Release Date: September 30, 2008
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska
With almost 2 million albums sold over their time together, Unwritten Law has taken that next step in a long-term music career, the live album. Live and Lawless was recorded in March at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip and is a mix of some older hits and newer tracks. For longtime fans, the live recording will be a good addition to an already existing catalogue. For newer fans, Live and Lawless might not be the ideal place to start, as live albums tend to be best for die-hard fans.
Despite the numerous lineup changes over the years, Unwritten Law still has a strong sound and puts on a good live show. Tracks such as the opening “Underground,” “Rescue Me,” “Shoulda Known Better” and “Celebration Song” keep the energy high over the 17-song setlist. However, some songs that move away from the more “traditional” Unwritten Law sound such as “Cailin” are excellent as part of the collection as well. The easy tempo of “Cailin” along with the sentimental message and sound almost akin to that of Soul Coughing makes the track a standout among the rest.
That said, it is the rock songs that Unwritten Law seem most comfortable with and their choices tend to come from more recent albums with only “CPK” coming from an album prior to 1998, but with seven full-length albums to choose from, it isn’t too surprising that the band had to be selective in what to include on Live and Lawless. The album is a strong collection, but, as with most live albums, the sound occasionally is tinny and the audience participation may be bothersome to some listeners. If that is the case, it might be best to go with a different album, but for the Unwritten Law fan, that has all their other albums, this will be a worthwhile addition to the collection.