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Lay Down & Love It Live ()

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Live recordings can have a way of separating the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Bands that are short on talent, chops, or substance might be able to hide behind technology when they're in the studio, but when they take it to the stage, their weaknesses become painfully obvious. But if a band is as substantial and as meaty as Sonia Dada, it doesn't need studio gloss to sound great -- and make no mistake, Sonia Dada sounds great on Lay Down & Love It Live, the Chicagoans' first live album and fourth album overall. True, an artist can use studio technology to "improve" an inferior live recording, but Lay Down never sounds artificial. The band's vitality comes through loud and clear on this CD, which contains mostly post-Sam Hogan recordings from 1998 (including a sweaty cover of Sly Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher") but also boasts three 1996 performances that were made before the singer's departure: "Goodnight," "Never See Me Again," and "You Ain't Thinking (About Me)." Without or without Hogan, Sonia Dada sounds consistently focused and never comes across as superficial. Recalling such soul/rock groups as Ike & Tina Turner, Sly & the Family Stone, and the Neville Brothers, gems like "Anna Lee" and "Amazing Jane" take us back to a time when artists lived for the stage and went that extra mile for audiences. Lay Down & Love It Live may very well be Sonia Dada's most essential release of the '90s. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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