Love Is Red
A live studio recording made in Berlin. Sim Cain, drums; John Abbey, bass. Features So Beautiful, Wilderness, Love Is Red.
For reasons never explained nor questioned, David's music proved more popular in Europe than in the US for some years. After the release of his second effort The Late Album, he toured relentlessly on his own and in support of Tori Amos, Beth Orton, The Jayhawks, Joan Baez, Chris Whitley, Glenn Tilbrook, Vanessa Carlton, Lloyd Cole, Golden Smog and many more.
So it was that the decision was made to record a live album. The trio of Poe, Cain and Abbey tended to kick the shit out of the songs in a way that studio recordings failed to capture.
When a European tour that was to be recorded for posterity didn't materialize, the band decamped to Berlin, set up in a heavy metal band's rehearsal space pocked with WWII-era bulletholes and played its current set into ancient microphones that had been liberated, around the time The Berlin Wall was falling, from an East Berlin radio station.
Caught between traditional conceits of the live album and David's insistence on recording some new material, these sessions didn't quite capture the arc of the band's typical live set, but they did render a few gems: Doxology and So Beautiful indicated more confidence in traditional song forms, re-workings of older work like Settlement proved what the songs could be, and the words of new work Love Is Red and Wilderness (the latter reinforced with incendiary performances by drummer Sim Cain and bassist John Abbey) showed that Poe had advanced as a lyricist: "if the trees are the lungs of the world, the city is her cigarette ... you are clean, quiet as snow, darker than a forest ... you are my wilderness."
Harp Magazine called Love Is Red "the make-out record of the year." The Washington Post said it was "like visiting a sex museum." The Village Voice christened David "the major domo of songwriters" and Time Out! New York called him "the perfect man."