Scabdates

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Scabdates
Live album by The Mars Volta
Released November 8, 2005
Recorded May 2004–May 2005, Various live performances
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock
Length 72:54
Label Gold Standard Laboratories
Universal Records
Strummer
Producer Omar Rodríguez-López
The Mars Volta chronology
Frances the Mute
(2005)
Scabdates
(2005)
Amputechture
(2006)

Scabdates is the second official live recording from the band The Mars Volta. It was released on November 8, 2005 and features music recorded between May 2004 and May 2005 during the tours in support of De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute. In 2011, NME magazine named it one of the 50 greatest live albums of all time.[1] The "And Ghosted Pouts" section of "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" was used in the film Get Him to the Greek.

Overview[edit]

Scabdates is peculiar as only three of the band's songs are represented, consisting mostly of expansions on musical themes which appear elsewhere in their work, or entirely new segments altogether. For example, the lengthy exposition on "Cicatriz", when combined with its introduction "Haruspex", comprises over 48 minutes of the disc; its lengthy jam incorporating themes which would later be used in "Cassandra Gemini" (the performance excerpted here was recorded on May 12, 2004, almost a year before Frances the Mute was released). Oddly enough, the Scabdates version of "Concertina" is shorter than its studio counterpart released on the Tremulant EP. The album ends with Cedric thanking the audience by telling them to "go home and take a bath."

Portions of the album include overdubbing and tape effects that were not part of the original live recordings. "Abrasions Mount the Timpani" features field recordings of mewling babies and airliner announcements that Omar recorded on the road, while "Cicatriz" incorporates an eight-minute psychedelic sound collage of other Mars Volta live performances (notably, performances of "Eunuch Provocateur" and "Cassandra Gemini"), alongside field recordings of the band and others talking and laughing. The album, like many live albums before it, was also mixed to sound as if it came from one performance.

A few years after the release of Scabdates, Rodriguez commented on the compilation of the album:

I listened to my favorite live records, and said, "Okay, that's nice. What would I want as a fan?" When I was a kid, I always wanted little moments about the band on tour, so I could imagine them in my head. You hear our live record, and it starts with sound check and our technicians speaking about what's wrong with the microphone. And then there's us backstage, and then it goes into the concert, and then in the middle of a song, I put in some conversations we had on the tour bus. All these things are really appealing to me. A lot of people who were upset said, "This is not a live album. It includes all this other bullshit. And it has overdubs!" It has no overdubs, it was just mixed in a creative way.[2]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (58/100) [3]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [4]
Entertainment Weekly B [5]
IGN (5/10) [6]
Paste (4/10) [3]
Pitchfork Media (3.5/10) [7]
PopMatters 6/10 stars [8]
Punknews.org 3.5/5 stars [9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [10]
Sputnikmusic (2/5) [11]
Tiny Mix Tapes 0.5/5 stars [12]
Ultimate Guitar (8.4/10) [13]

The Mars Volta have freely encouraged the trading of bootlegged live performances, but Scabdates was lauded by many fans for its superior sound quality and for being the first official recording that captured the Volta's lengthy experimental workouts during live performances. Some critics were not impressed with the band's jam sessions, with IGN describing the album as "sonic meandering which some regard as genius and others find to be a futile exercise in pretentious instrumental masturbation."[6]

The album scored a 58/100 on Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews".[3] Some reviews are positive: Under the Radar gave it a score of seven stars out of ten and called it "One of those rare live offerings: a document that actually complements the band's catalog."[3] NME gave it a score of seven out of ten and called it "marvelous".[3]

Other reviews were pretty average, mixed or negative: The Austin Chronicle gave it three stars out of five and said: "Seventy-three crack-in-the-earth's-crust minutes liquefy into the same basic miasma as the sophomore LP that inspired them, yet more streamlined, less apt to wander into the ambient dead zones like 'Caviglia,' a problematic disconnection of the disc's overall forward thrust."[14] Uncut also gave it three stars and said, "Your appreciation of Scab Dates will be predicated on a high tolerance to long bongo solos and songs called things like 'Abrasions Mount The Timpani'."[3] Prefix Magazine gave it an average review and said the album "does an adequate job of capturing what is best experienced in the flesh."[15] Blender gave it two stars out of five and said, "The songs get lost in waves of wah-wah long before a long, slow fade into random-noise oblivion."[3] Pitchfork Media gave it a score of 3.5 out of ten and said it was "neither a concession nor a step forward, revealing inclinations that feel half as indulgent as they should when following a record like Frances the Mute, and about half as interesting to listen to."[7]

Track listing[edit]

Like Frances the Mute, portions of Scabdates were arbitrarily cut into separate sections for the CD pressing. "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" was spread along three tracks, while "Cicatriz" was spread across five; the fifth section, "Part IV", begins with the sound collage mentioned above. On vinyl, "Cicatriz" was split along the third and fourth sides, with "Part IV" taking up the entirety of the latter side.

Finalized track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Abrasions Mount the Timpani"   4:07
2. "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" (Gust of Mutts - And Ghosted Pouts) 13:23
3. "Caviglia"   2:46
4. "Concertina"   4:17
5. "Haruspex"   5:24
6. "Cicatriz" (Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV) 42:58

CD pressing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Abrasions Mount the Timpani"   4:07
2. "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt"   5:57
3. "A. Gust of Mutts"   2:34
4. "B. And Ghosted Pouts"   4:52
5. "Caviglia"   2:46
6. "Concertina"   4:17
7. "Haruspex"   5:24
8. "Cicatriz"   8:16
9. "A. Part I"   2:34
10. "B. Part II"   7:39
11. "C. Part III"   4:29
12. "D. Part IV"   20:01

Source of recordings[edit]

05/12/2004 – Wiltern Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
  • "Haruspex"
  • "Cicatriz"
05/13/2004 – Wiltern Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
  • "Caviglia"
05/05/2005 – Roseland Ballroom – New York City, NY
  • "Abrasions Mount the Timpani"
  • "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt"
05/06/2005 – Roseland Ballroom – New York City, NY
  • "Gust of Mutts / And Ghosted Pouts"
Unknown
  • "Concertina" (most likely from a 2005 show, as Adrián Terrazas-González, who began performing live with the band in 2005, can be heard playing saxophone)

Personnel[edit]

The Mars Volta[edit]

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Jonathan Debaun - recording, engineer
  • Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - mixing
  • Howie Weinberg - mastering
  • Roger Liam - mastering assistant

Artwork[edit]

  • Danielle Van Ark - photographs
  • Sonny Kay - design, layout
  • Omar Rodríguez-López - art direction
  • Cedric Bixler-Zavala - art direction

References[edit]

External links[edit]