If fans could vote for a band to never go back to studio recordings, the Old 97’s would be one of the few that would be placed into this distinguished group. Whether fueled by beer or copious passion, their contagious spirit and enlivening dive bar sound are exuded best when on stage.

Although they claim to never rehearse their act, the Old 97’s are heralded as one of the great live bands of their time. Their newest release, Alive & Wired, is an excellent example of this talent, catching the band in prime form in two nights at Gruene Hall near San Antonio, Tx.

The part pop, part country, part rock ‘n’ roll double CD set provides a pretty complete look back at their 12-year career. It’s jam-packed with hits including "Murder (Or A Heart Attack)," one of Blender magazine’s "Top 500 Songs Since You Were Born." Diehards will enjoy rarely heard songs like "Stoned" and "If my Heart Were a Car."

This album verifies that some of the best recorded songs are much improved after being roughed up and drenched in alcohol on stage. The Old 97’s provide proof that there are bands currently out there that could survive on live albums alone. It’s in Alive & Wired.

Grade: A