"Homebrewed: Live

From the Pabst"

Back Porch

Between 1986 and 1993, over the course of five studio albums, the BoDeans made some of the finest mainstream rock 'n' roll of their era, often sounding like the Everly Brothers backed by the E Street Band. For their efforts, they never had an album rise higher than No. 86 on the Billboard charts and had one fluke hit single, 1993's "Closer to Free" (later the theme song for TV's "Party of Five") three years after they'd released the song. They were always giants, however, on their home turf of eastern Wisconsin, and that's where they recorded their new double-CD live album, "Homebrewed: Live From the Pabst."

On one hand, it's a pointless exercise. The new release recycles 10 songs from the BoDeans' earlier, better double-CD live album, 1995's "Joe Dirt Car," and seven songs from last year's studio album, "Resolution." There are no new songs, and the old songs often come with distracting audience singalongs.

On the other hand, the band sounds great. The give-and-take between Sammy Llanas's nasal tenor and Kurt Neumann's smooth baritone is as intoxicating as ever. Longtime bassist Bob Griffin and legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff keep the rhythm taut, and Neumann's lead guitar and Bukka Allen's accordion lend tasteful embellishment to Llanas and Neumann's hook-laden songs. If you can't be rich and famous, sounding good must provide some consolation.

-- Geoffrey Himes

Appearing Friday at the 9:30 club.

The BoDeans have always flown under the radar, but their live album shows why they have a loyal following.