Erykah Badu recorded her first album, Baduizm when Badu dropped out of university and decided to pursue music full time. Live delivers songs from the debut, as well as some covers, in a reimagined format, featuring a smaller live band, of keys, bass, drums, and background vocalists. The new interpretation works to strip back the songs and highlight the talent of Badu in a much more minimal setting.

The album opens up with “Rimshot (Intro)” which starts out as a rendition of “So What” by Miles Davis. It eventually transitions out of this cover when Badu enters and goes into “Rimshot.” The next song, “Other Side of The Game” follows much of the same vibe, however, is a little more uptempo. The song highlights Badu's vocal style, which draws from aspects of spoken word, Her inspiration is evident in her other works like “Penitentiary Philosophy” from Mama’s Gun, and on other tracks from this album. “On and On” continues the vibe of the album, with its laid back feel and quiet dynamicism. “Reprise” is a small break, allowing the listener to refresh their ears for a moment. This really leans into spoken word, giving us a moment of crowd interaction and a slow down before speeding up into “Appletree.” This song is much more energetic, even though the drum tones still are the same as the start of the album with the rimshot on two and four. “Appletree” breaks abruptly and Badu takes a moment to speak to the audience.With the soft keyboard pad underneath, the song transitions into the next, “Ye Yo.”

“Searching,” a cover of the Roy Ayres track of the same name, is the next track, where Badu takes a step back and blends in closer with the background singers. This song also features the first prominent instrumental solo, played by Norman "Keys" Hurt. Following this is “Boogie Nights/All night,” which is a medley of three covers: “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave, “All Night Long” by The Mary Jane Girls, and “Funkin’ for Jamaica” by Tom Browne. This mash-up departs from the two-four of other songs at first but quickly goes back with much more drive and variation of tones in the keyboard. This song resembles a rendition of a piece from Off The Wall, and in the middle there is a break that sounds like conversation, which could be a nod to the intro of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” The song that follows, “Certainly,” adheres to much of the same formula as the rest of the album, albeit with a little more drive. “Stay,” which Erykah introduces as a song by one of her favorites, is a cover of the Chakra Khan song. It also is one of the more distinct tracks on the album, with its long intro, upbeat drums, and denser band parts. The keys break free from the usual washy Rhodes and trade it for a funky wah-wah clavinet part. The bass also trades its usually full sound for a much more percussive slap sound. Following this is another interlude, “Next Lifetime,” which presents itself with much less of the spoken word of “Reprise,” and breaks off instead, setting up the next song as one Badu has just written. This song is “Tyrone,” which matches the sonic elements of many of the songs before it, and closes the album out on an incredibly strong note. There were other two tracks listed after Tyrone; “Next Lifetime” and “Tyrone - Extended version.” However, they were not available to listen to at the time of this review, and as a result, were not considered.

In short, this album highlights the incredibly talented band and the power of intraband interaction to make each groove feel incredibly good, even if texturally the album may lack variation. This album definitely works well to refine and perfect a vibe, and explore the realms within that energy. Each song is stellar, but collectively as an album, it starts to feel monotonous. As an instrumental player, I tend not to pay attention to lyrics as much and for most of the album this was the case, but “Tyrone” and “Ye Yo” caught my ear with their lyrics. In short, this album highlights the immaculately crafted vibe that Erykah Badu brings to her music, her incredible technical ability, her appreciation for her inspirations, the interaction and fun of playing to an audience, and the dynamics and flexibility of her band in a relatively limiting format.