City Limits [1985]

The tagline is "Live music. Pure and simple." A mainstay on PBS since 1976, Austin City Limits showcases the finest in modern music. This two-CD set captures highlights from the fest's fourth year, opening with a rocker from Australia's Jet ("Cold Heart Bitch") and ending with a raver from Widespread Panic ("Love Tractor"). Twenty-four acts strut their stuff on the first disc, including a bonus selection from the John Butler Trio ("Treat Yo Mama"), and each is represented by one song. Some performances take place in the sunshine (it was 108 degrees on Sunday), some after dark. The heat means bare-chested bass players (the Bravery), drummers (Bloc Party), and vocalists (Thievery Corporation), and more than enough sweat to go around—most of it stuck to Britain's Kaiser Chiefs ("I Predict a Riot"). The second disc consists of extras, including 14 short interviews and four mini-documentaries. Although it's fair to say there's something for everyone here, the emphasis is on alternative rock and there are few female-fronted combos, with the exception of Texas quartet Eisley ("Golly Sandra") and Illinois singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata ("Be Be Your Love"), who also duets with Jason Mraz ("Did You Get My Message?"). Standouts include Washington DC's Thievery Corporation with the dubbed-out "Warning Shots" and Ohio duo the Black Keys with the smoking "Set You Free." Some of the notable 2005 participants not featured on this collection include Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, the Black Crowes, Wilco, and Spoon—let's hear it for a sequel! --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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