The Mars Volta Scabdates

As anyone who has ever seen the Mars Volta live knows, no two shows are alike. As a result of the band’s penchant for veering into random free-form jam sessions in the middle of their already epic songs, they openly encourage live recording and tape trading à la the Grateful Dead. It almost makes you wonder why they would release an official live album at all. Well, this is not a typical "live” album. It’s a 74-minute collection of the highlights of the last two years on the road remixed and remastered to maximise sound quality. Most of the stuff here is material unavailable in one place with the bonus of being handpicked by the band as particularly noteworthy. So is it a betrayal of the live album tradition? Maybe, but when a band is as adventurous and unpredictable as this live, no one show would define what a Mars Volta performance is all about. This is as close to capturing the audio portion of a show as you’re likely to get in one sitting. (Universal)