Vasco Rossi may have long ceased to be an epoch-defining rock icon, but he can still be a lot of fun. Vivere o Niente is one of his strongest releases in recent years, precisely because he does not seem to try too hard to be up to date, or particularly ambitious lyrically or production-wise. Rather, he simply sticks with what he does best, and delivers a dozen trademark Vasco songs, split between earnest, bittersweet ballads ("Vivere non é Facile," "Stammi Vicino") and rowdy, ironic rockers ( "Prendi la Strada," "Non Sei Quella Che Eri"). True, there is a throwaway feel to most of this material, and Vasco is definitely unafraid to repeat himself, but then again, what's the big deal? The man has a shtick: he knows it, his audience knows it, his detractors certainly know it, and it still works just fine. Not only that, it occasionally gets pretty great: "Eh... Già" and "Vivere o Niente" boast shout-along choruses that forecast Vasco classics waiting to happen, while "L'aquilone" is ironbound to become a concert favorite, with a coda that jokingly misquotes "Vado al Massimo." At least for Vasco fans, it is the album's greatest moment, and the one that pretty much sums up what Vivere o Niente is all about: an album that Vasco fans will love, and that will sound great live. After 33 years and 24 albums, you could not conceivably ask Vasco Rossi for more. ~ Mariano Prunes, Rovi

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