Bad Kitty Board Mix is a two-CD live performance recording of Sophie B Hawkins’ shows at the Triple Door in Seattle and the Basement in Sydney. She states clearly in the CD sleeve that the recordings are not polished live recordings refined in a studio but actual stereo board mixes straight from the soundboard. The only touching up done is the muting of the sounds of the audience during a song. In short, this is not exactly the state of art recording of Ms Hawkins’s two shows. This shouldn’t be a surprise to fans that still follow her career, since she’s now releasing her music on her own label. Budget is always tight.
Indeed, Bad Kitty Board Mix isn’t a CD to introduce people to her music as much as a souvenir for fans who want to gain a peek into Ms Hawkins’s world on the road. Her attempts at establishing rapport as well as her manager Gigi Gaston’s are all here on the two CDs and I am especially amused in a good way by Ms Hawkins telling the audience at the end of Feelin’ Good to buy some stuff placed by the door of the venue. She promises to sign everything that is bought. “Not that that will make it better; it is what it is,” she says in a self-effacing manner about those no-doubt self-made T-shirts and what-not on sale, “but at least we can talk!”
The songs are mostly taken from the CDs Tongues & Tails and Whaler with a song here and there from her subsequent CDs. There aren’t much drastic changes made to these songs. They are still very recognizable. I am surprised at how fast Ms Hawkins is singing on many of these songs, as if she wants to finish them quickly so that she can move on to the next set, but her rapidfire delivery actually improves songs like Before I Walk on Fire, Savior Childe, Did We Not Choose Each Other, and As I Lay Me Down. I especially love the trumpets in Before I Walk on Fire and the amazing piano running crazy in Did We Not Choose Each Other.
What strikes me in this CD is how in her studio recordings Ms Hawkins sometimes choose to tell a story via her songs by introducing melodramatic nuances in her singing or equally dramatic changes of chords and other stuff, but in this live recording she’s just letting her hair down and having a good time. The feel of Bad Kitty Board Mix is reminiscent of a relaxed weekend at some pub where there’s a manic woman banging away at the piano and singing in an eccentric manner that is at same time quite captivating. Compare the dramatic studio recording of Did We Not Choose Each Other to the “hey, it’s happy hour, guys, cheer up and sing along with me!” live version and you’ll see what I mean. I like this. I’ve never had the chance to watch Sophie B Hawkins perform live so Bad Kitty Board Mix is showing me a new fun aspect of her.
I won’t recommend buying this CD to anyone not familiar with Sophie B Hawkins because it is a pretty raw live recording with warts and all on full display. This CD is meant for fans who already know and love her music and want a peek into Ms Hawkins’s life on the road. If you are a fan and haven’t purchased this baby, hey, think about it. Ms Hawkins’s always on the road hopping from one small venue to the next small venue as she tries to make music and make ends meet at the same time. It’s amusing as well as eye-opening how her manager and three other band members all multitask for each show. Considering how hectic their schedule is as they hit the road from place to place, it seems right that the only reason they are running up and down like this is because they like what they are doing. It seems right that I give a little something back for all the music that she has given me by purchasing this double-CD collection, even more so when I get back in return fun and enjoyable moments in return from Bad Kitty Board Mix.