By calling this series of live recordings "authorized bootlegs," the folks at Kufala Records wisely keep the aural expectations nice and low, and therefore likely to be exceeded. And indeed, the sound quality is better than you might expect: these recordings were all made at the mixing board, and if the sound on this particular set (the Berlin disc mainly) is just a little bit dry and distant and the bass is mixed just a bit too low, it does sound really quite good at high volume. The performances are generally top-notch as well. Soul Coughing
's unique brand of jazzy, snotty, scratchy funk poetry didn't always translate well live, but on these two 1997 recordings the bandmembers are all in top form. "Disseminated" and "Lazy Bones" are the class of the Berlin disc, and the sly insertions of excerpts from Black Sabbath
's "War Pigs" are a nice addition to a sharp and snarling rendition of "Down to This." But the (disappointingly brief) Amsterdam set is even better, with an excellent version of "The Incumbent" and a hard-driving instrumental take on "Miss the Girl" leading into a snaky rendition of "4 Out of 5." None of these performances supplant the studio versions, but most are well worth hearing and will be welcomed by fans.