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Live rose to chart success on the strength of its anthemic music and idealistic, overtly spiritual songwriting, two hallmarks which earned the group frequent comparisons to U2. Live first formed in the early '80s in their hometown of York, Pennsylvania, when future members Chad Taylor (guitar), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums) began playing together under the name First Aid while attending middle school. After losing an area talent contest, they decided to enlist singer Ed Kowalczyk, and as a foursome the group played under a series of names before settling on Public Affection. After earning a rabid local following, in 1989 Public Affection released a cassette, The Death of a Dictionary, on their own Action Front label. After graduating to CBGB and other famed New York clubs, they earned a demo deal with Giant Records which proved unsuccessful; the completed demo earned them a deal with Radioactive, however, and before drawing their new name out of a hat, Live recruited Talking Head Jerry Harrison to produce their 1991 debut, Mental Jewelry. A collection of songs based on the writings of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, the record made Live one of the key players in the post-Nirvana alternative music scene thanks to singles like "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)" and "Pain Lies on the Riverside." Three years later, Live returned with the muscular Throwing Copper, which lingered a number of months on the charts before pushing the group into the rock mainstream; after a series of popular singles like "Selling the Drama" and "I Alone," the album's slow build climaxed with the funereal "Lightning Crashes," which propelled the album to the top of the charts and paved the way for the hits "White, Discussion" and "All Over You." Secret Samadhi, the third Live LP, followed in early 1997, but failed to match either the commercial or critical success of previous efforts. The band resurfaced two years later with The Distance to Here. Jason Ankeny

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