A Certain Ratio Live America 1985

One of the more criminally undervalued bands of the post-punk movement, Manchester’s A Certain Ratio were an exotic amalgam of funk, punk, electronic and disco who never really tasted the success of other Factory bands like New Order and Happy Mondays, despite their 20-year career. They did, however, have their share of classic cuts in the ’80s, which have been captured nicely in a series of reissues over the past few years. Live America 1985 is certainly no exception, and despite its undeniable "live” feel — it was recorded by hand on cassette during their tour with New Order — it holds up extraordinarily well. In fact, Live has been so well preserved that for most of the album, you lose yourself in the band’s constant groove and forget all about the audience in their presence. By 1985, they had recorded all of their seminal material, so the song selection here is what any fan would want (bar "Do the Du,” which is shockingly absent). A vigorous version of "Shack Up” sounds like it was cut in a Peel Session, while a spirited and abridged take on "Knife Slits Water” finds its proper legs here. Only their stab at debut single "Wild Party,” loses some lustre with feedback killing the flow. Live is a highly recommended collection that gains even more pull over the poster inside the sleeve advertising Madonna as their opening act. (Melodic)