Few bands give their fans the proper send-off. If you're Bleach, Five Iron Frenzy, or The
Supertones, however, you stand out from the pack. Even in the midst of the legendary rock group Petra calling
it a day, the band has gone out of their way to present some truly thoughtful material for their
devoted fans to be left with.
Bleach said goodbye officially on August 29th, 2004, playing their final show at Rctwn in Nashville.
Since the band's demise, Bleach has released a final all-new studio project earlier this year entitled
Farewell Old Friends, have reunited for a benefit show for a friend who passed on, and reunited
once more earlier this month for The Supertones' final show. In Fall, 2005, the band has released what
will most likely be the last project to bear the band's name, Audio / Visual.
Audio / Visual is a two-disc project that offers 15 of the band's most popular tunes plus
three new ones and a live DVD of the band's final show. The eighteen-song first disc is an impressive
collection of some of the best the band has to offer. Opening with two decent new tracks, "Good To
Be Alive" and "Must Be Divine," the album has a fresh feel that blends surprisingly well with the follow-up
tracks from their 1996 debut record Space, "Epidermis Girl" and "Perfect Family." "Super Good
Feeling" is the only track from 1998's Static to make it to the record, fitting appropriately
among the hits, with "All To You," "Sun Stands Still," and "What Will Your Anthem Be" from 2000's
Bleach trailing close behind. I liked the way the songs are ordered on the record, primarily from
debut album on through down to cuts from the most recent record. From probably the band's tightest album,
Again, For The First Time (2001), is plucked the anthemic "We Are Tomorrow," the worshipful fan favorite
"Knocked Out," and "Baseline." "Get Up," "December," and "Jaded Now," all from 2003's Astronomy
are followed by the band's cover of The Smiths' "Girlfriend In A Coma," which was previously only available
on a rare collection of demos the band put together. The audio portion of Audio / Visual appropriately
closes with "Condition," "Clear The Air," and the title cut from their finale record, Farewell Old Friends.
The song selections are pretty well-picked, but, as with every "best of" project, there will always be songs
that don't make the cut. In this case, some may wonder why songs like "Jaded Now," and "All To You"
might find their way to the album while songs like "Once Again Here We Are," "Child Of Sod," "Found You Out," or "Land Of The Lost"
are nowhere to be found. Regardless, it's a solid collection and one of the best collections for a band, so
I really can't complain much.
The DVD portion of Audio / Visual, sadly, doesn't fair quite as well. Since I had the blessing
of attending the band's final show last August, I've been
anticipating such a release ever since the final chords of "What Will Your Anthem Be" were strummed that
night. But the DVD I watched unfold before me was bittersweet if anything. On the one hand, it's so great to have a recording
of these moments to keep for myself, despite the fact that it's recorded from a different perspective than
the one I had personally experienced. On the other hand, the DVD contains a slim twelve songs from the final show. And all who
attended the finale will most likely remember a different concert experience. While twelve songs is a decent
length, it's merely half of the more than generous twenty four song set that they performed that night. The
songs they left out are painful to consider as well. While "Good," "Rundown Town," and "Land Of The Lost"
were all included, a string of favorites, "Plan To Pull Through," "Knocked Out," "Child Of Sod," "December,"
"Broke In The Head," "Once Again Here We Are," "Race," and "Living," were completely omitted from the core of the show.
"Rundown Town" and "Good" are then included while "Jaded Now," "All To You," and "Breathe" are then left out.
Finally, the first song of the band's memorable encore, "Epidermis Girl," also feels the blade of the axe.
What's left is a lean and highlighted glimpse at the band's final show, not the show itself.
However, overall, it's still a disc for fans to treasure, even if it is only a partial
setlist. The video quality varies from that of a fuzzy handheld camcorder to a clear, vibrant image. It's
raw all-around, and it represents the garage band feel of Bleach quite well. The DVD also offers quite a few
bonus features, including the video for "We Are Tomorrow" (adding "Epidermis Girl" and "Child Of Sod"
too would have been nice, though), a photo gallery, and interviews with the band and fans after the final
show, filmed by Audio Adrenaline drummer Ben Cissell. The extras are a fun companion to the live footage.
As a whole, Audio / Visual is a fan's must-have project, even if it does have some serious flaws.
The "best of" tracklisting is almost perfect (lacking "Once Again Here We Are" may be its biggest problem),
while the DVD's sorely abbreviated presentation is painful when you know what is missing. Regardless,
Audio / Visual serves as a worthy summary of Bleach's impressive catalog of music, and a project
that shouldn't be missed!
- Review date: 10/26/05, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com