I've written extensively about how much time I have for Chuck Ragan many times before and how I can't get enough of his music. Luckily, he's also put out a bunch of live albums over the years and this is the first one I picked up.
On the 11th of October 2007 I had just seen Chuck Ragan for the first time, playing a solo show in Le Pub in Newport and it remains to be one of the best concerts I've ever seen. At the end I headed to the merch stand to pick up as much music of his that I could afford (which was only one cd at the time - a few days later I'd get my job and solve my money woes for a couple of years). I was tempted to buy Los Feliz on the basis that even if it was only half as good as the show that I just saw, then it would be amazing. My friend Hugh however recommended I get the album Feast or Famine, and given that it's one of my all-time favourite albums I think his recommendation was a wise one. I was £1 short of the £12 needed for the cd, but my friend Jon's friend who I'd only met a few hours earlier gave me the missing change. Either he was a very generous guy or perhaps that's the effect Chuck's music has on people (despite Cardiff being a very small city, I only bumped into that guy once more, but needless to say I'm still very grateful for that £1).
Anyway, I picked up Los Feliz when doing an online order from Revelation Records a few months afterwards. I'm reasonably sure the vinyl is the "gray mix" second pressing, but I'm colour-blind so it really be from any of the pressings. It looks nice either way. Musically, it's awesome, but we all knew I was going to say that. There are so many highlights it's hard to think where to begin, but Open Up and Wail deserves special mention for being absolutely incredible. I don't have a studio version of that song, but this one never fails to send a shiver down my spine. There's a moment in the last verse when a weaker voice would simply crack and the crowd cheer because they know only Chuck can pull it off with that much energy. What an incredible opener. The Boat and California Burritos are every bit as good as you'd expect them to be, the clap-alongs on For Broken Ears are great, and the Hot Water Music cover God Deciding is worth mentioning too.
I knew it would be impossible for a record to top my experience that night in Newport (because being there in person is a huge factor), but this album is certainly more than the half-as-good I was hoping for.
Format: 12", a4 insert
Cost: £9.50 new
Bought: Revelation Records website
Colour: Gray mix
Etching: Side A: "¡Una noche a recordar" Side B: "Con todos mis amigos!" (A night to remember with all my firends!)