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And All That Could Have Been...Live
And All That Could Have Been...Still

Nothing/Interscope Records

     Following the rejection of his magnum opus The Fragile while audience tastes leaned toward the Limp Bizkits and Marilyn Mansons of the world, Trent Reznor has decided to release a document of his brilliant Fragility 2.0 tour of 2000 to show the world what they missed while they rotted their teeth on metallic candy. And All That Could Have Been...Live is close to being a greatest hits album. From the jagged, profane funk of "Closer" to the tortured artist cries of "Hurt," to the intensities of "Head Like A Hole," "Wish," and "Starfuckers, Inc.," this record captures crowd baiting versions of the pop chart blisters that Reznor unleashed on first the hair-metal world and then the grunge era. Unfortunately, the recording doesn't do the shows justice. Anyone who's seen a Nine Inch Nails show knows that the really effective parts of the show are in the understated bits. In person, there's a post-World War II German artsiness added to the violent decadence. The punches in the chest are surrounded by soothing waters on which the listener drifts to peace before being yanked out by the hair and bludgeoned some more. That doesn't really translate to the live recording which comes across as more one-sided than the event actually is. Fortunately, the companion piece And All That Could Have Been...Still rises above that problem. This second disc is a dark, blurry greenish-grey dream. Apparently re-constructed bits of live recordings enhanced and re-imagined in the studio form the basis for this disc and ironically, it has more of the feel of the live show than the actual live record. Still is a hung-over, slow building, sparse, piano based collection that reflects the resolve that follows a lingering sadness. Just look at the names of the songs. "Something I Can Never Have," "The Persistence Of Loss," and "Leaving Hope" say more with titles than I can say in a short review. One dirge appears on both discs. Check out The Fragile's "Day The World Went Away" in both forms. While the live album sounds like it does in person, the Still version feels like it does in person. Before this, Nine Inch Nails was always on the verge of a breakdown. Still is post-breakdown and pre-dawn. However, it is also the catharsis that leads to survival. The title "Leaving Hope" is not as hopeless as it may sound. To leave implies moving on. I believe Trent Reznor has done just that. A chapter has now closed for Nine Inch Nails. Winter is over. (2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404)

 Chris McKay/concertshots.com