Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 11, 2004
Alejandro EscovedoPor Vida (More Miles Than Money)
One prays Alejandro Escovedo heals quickly. If nothing else, Austin's rock & roll Garcia Lorca poet, dramatist owes all those he's touched a follow-up to 2001's A Man Under the Influence, his indie breakthrough. Not to be confused with an upcoming tribute album in Escovedo's name, this Por Vida is a limited-edition local fundraiser disc piñata-ed from his Man Under the Influence live adventures. Don't be fooled by the label imprint either, found titling one of Escovedo's other Bloodshot Records ripostes, More Miles Than Money: Live 1994-96. Both live discs document career high releases (With These Hands previously), but Por Vida has the edge in its single tour snapshot, and maybe material, too. Sad-eyed opener "Wave," plus KGSR high-rotations "Castanets" and "Velvet Guitar," all Under the Influence, anchor 72 minutes of Escovedo and band, proving why we love them. Similar to Live 1994-96, the best cuts here come courtesy of the Cactus Cafe, including the streetwalkin' swagger of "Everybody Loves Me" and the street hassle of "Sacramento & Polk." Asheville, N.C., is gifted a tender, acoustic version of "Follow You Down," though the version they get of "I Was Drunk" is watered down. The Por Vida prize is two versions of "Sad & Dreamy (The Big 10)," rocked in St. Paul, Minn., and quoting Bob Marley (!) and the Velvet Underground, and another one sold at Austin's Zilker Elementary with a chorus by and for whom it was originally penned: anyone who was ever disillusioned.