CD Review of In Concert, Vol. 1 by The Sadies

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In Concert, Vol. 1
starstarstarstarno star Label: Yep Roc
Released: 2006
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Dallas and Travis Good are brothers. Their father, Bruce Good, is a founding member of the Good Brothers, a band firmly ensconced in Canadian musical royalty. Together, Dallas and Travis front the Sadies, an act that – if it hasn’t yet earned the lofty status of their dad’s outfit – has earned a solid reputation over the course of its eight-year existence.

All of this should help explain, a little, why a band you’ve most likely never heard of is releasing a two-disc, 41-song live set, and why it’s literally packed with guest stars you have heard of, including (but not limited to): Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, Neko Case, Garth Hudson, Jon Spencer, and members of Blue Rodeo and the Mekons. And why it works.

Records like this don’t come along very often; most bands have neither the chops nor the testicular fortitude to throw 27 musicians on a stage, throw a big, sweaty party, and trust things to work themselves out. The Sadies are lacking in neither department, and more importantly, they’ve also got the frantic eclecticism of true music lovers. Minus this last ingredient, In Concert would be a chore to tackle in a single sitting, no matter how many special guests they invited, no matter how good the songs are, and no matter how cleanly producer Steve Albini managed to capture the whole affair. Whichever way you do the math, 41 songs is a lot to digest.

Thankfully, the Goods and crew keep things moving with a steady flow of stylistic twists. If you’ve been keeping track of the band throughout its five-album existence, there aren’t really any surprises here; The Sadies have always demonstrated an uncommon grasp of the threads that bind roots rock across the continent and through the border, and the live setting throws this into full relief.

If you’re new to the group, the prospect of an album as big and messy as In Concert is probably daunting, or even a little ridiculous. But give it a try – as this set proves, a little adventurousness can have its own rewards.

~Jeff Giles