After nearly a decade of packing the bowls and taking hits from the bong, Cypress Hill deserves a live album. That doesn't make the new Live at the Fillmore
anything more than a quick cash-in or the performances on it anything but cheap re-creations of songs done much better in the studio. Still, it seems like a good time for a live album, even if hip-hop doesn't quite lend itself to the forum particularly well. Whatever. Since busting out of Los Angeles with its stunning self-titled debut album in 1991 and following it up two years later with the equally vicious Black Sunday
, the multiracial trio has preached the good word of weed over a sonic landscape that's both exhilarating and chilling. Subsequent albums have sunk into formula, with tales of perverts, maniacs, and society's bottom feeders dominating ("Insane in the Brain" is a genuinely good song; "Killafornia," from '95's Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom,
is not). Earlier this year, Cypress Hill released Skulls & Bones
, a two-CD set of rap- and rock-influenced jams. The group has lightened up a bit, but the concept -- one part hip-hop, one part metal -- is a played-out one and, frankly, sounds pretty tame compared to the competition. The live show, however, should prove a fine assessment of the past 10 years. So fire one up and rejoice.