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Rollins Band The Only Way To Know For Sure

By Vinnie Apicella, Contributor
Sunday, July 21, 2002 @ 1:28 PM


(Sanctuary)

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The only way to know for sure is to just dive right in, absorb the full volume, the intensified vibe that radiates and reverberates across the hall and reflects off of the beer-stained participants crying in unison over gut-wrenching anthems of self-deprecation and social unrest from weary travelers who've long since taken the high road from radio lowlights… And The Rollins Band, who've taken many shapes and forms and yet manage to evoke and provoke the rock n' roll spirit as channeled and delivered from the one named Henry, a diminutive, flat-topped, ink-smeared poetic avenger with a stealthy attitude and sneer to go with it. The Only Way To Know For Sure, a two-disc live set authenticated from a two-day appearance at Chicago's Metro, in fully penetrable analog sound, is an essence of purity and outspokenness that carries the weight of a twenty-year world of inner torment and hard to the core strategies bent of a lifetime of preachy enthusiasm.

While the Rollins Band has gone through a changing identity during the years, the music moving accordingly from a defiantly punk tone to a blues-heavy idol-rock blend of '70s and modern day angst, there's little denying the current lineup, including the rhythm crew of L.A.'s club faves Mother Superior, is their strongest ever. 28 tracks in all, in their perfunctory, primitive glory, Rollins' Band cuts through fan faves like "Disconnect," "What's The Matter Man," "Illumination," "Get Some Go," and "Your Number Is One…" and that only covers disc one.

Enter disc two, eight songs less than its predecessor, and featuring the bombastic exploits of "Gone Inside The Zero" after a crowd softening set-up, "Are You Ready?" again reverting back to their stellar Get Some Go Again benchmark release that signaled the MS entrance, and of course their End Of Silence classic "Low SO."

Some might wonder about the exclusion of "Liar," their camera-ready heyday hit that momentarily brought a red-faced Rollins to the surface, or "Icon" from the same record… of course considering the history, 28 strong's still no assurance of full coverage. Rollins, known as much for his between-album spoken word jaunts as for the ability to melt a photo lens with his onstage histrionics, let's the music do the talking here, save for a few well-placed screams and title speak outs! HR went so far as to write his own (surprise?) press release, and while originally scoffing the live deal, decided to go with it, and the results will impress upon your skull as it does your skepticism -- never before has a bands' true power from studio to stage been clearly executed than on this record, which for that reason alone makes it the next best thing to being there.

****1/2


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