CD Review of Warpaint Live by The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes: Warpaint Live
Recommended if you like
Gov't Mule,
The Allman Brothers Band,
Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones
Label
Eagle Records
The Black Crowes:
Warpaint Live

Reviewed by Ed Murray

R
ecorded on March 20, 2008 at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, CA, Warpaint Live is a two-disc set that captures the band at the height of their reborn powers, three years after coming back very strong after their self-imposed five-year hiatus (a.k.a. the Robinson-Hudson Nesting Years).

Disc One finds the band performing the excellent Warpaint album (from 2008) in its entirety, albeit with some extended versions of some tunes, natch. The Crowes have suffered in the past from their, er, bandmember retention issues. But this lineup has been in place for a couple of years now, including recording the studio album together. The brothers Robinson (singer Chris, guitarist Rich) are joined by Luther Dickinson, guitarist from North Mississippi Allstars (while his drummer brother Cody is busy with Hill Country Revue, just releasing their first album), founding member Steve Gorman is still on drums (he left in '02, but was back in the post-hiatus Crowes nest), Sven Pipien is still on bass (he recorded the great By Your Side album with 'em in '99, was replaced in '00, but rejoined the group in '05), and Adam Macdougall is still the Crowes' keyboardist, having joined in '07 prior to the Warpaint studio sessions.

Disc Two consists of classics and covers. "Darling of the Underground Press" and "Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye" are both Southern Harmony and Musical Companion-era tracks (the latter on the album itself, the former a "Remedy" B-side released in '92). "Poor Elijah/Tribute to Johnson (Medley)" is by Delaney, Bonnie & Friends (featuring a post-Blind Faith Eric Clapton), featured on the classic live album ...On Tour with Eric Clapton. "Don't Know Why" is from Eric Clapton's self-titled debut album, with songwriter credits going to Clapton and both Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. So, it's a nice little blast of mid-period Clapton. The Crowes then bust out the Exile on Main Street classic "Torn and Frayed" before launching into show-closer "Hey Grandma," the Moby Grape chestnut from the Grape's first album.

Disc Two clocks in at only 33 minutes, though. Simply put, that just plain sucks. After the more than hour-long set of Disc One, it's decidedly a letdown. At first it seemed a little perturbing. Don't the Crowes play longer shows than that? But a quick check of CrowesBase backs up the running order and time. An hour-plus for the first set, the Warpaint album in its entirety, though they stretch a few of the tunes out, taking "Oh Josephine" and "Wee Who See the Deep" and "Movin' On Down the Line" and "Whoa Mule" out for long jammy walks around the block. Then intermission. Then the second set, 23+ minutes, four tunes. Then back on stage for the two-song encore. Done and done.

Given that the next night they were appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," the day after which they hopped a plane for Australia for a two-week tour of that country (before touching down in London, then Amsterdam, before jetting back to the U.S.), perhaps the short show was an anomaly? Not according to the set lists online. You have to back pretty far to find a Crowes show that clocks in at anything significantly more than 90 minutes.

You could even make the argument that a 90-minute show is just fine...it's not like they're the Dead or Springsteen, fer chrissakes. Fine. Point conceded. But does that mean the CD has to be that short? There had to be plenty of other live recorded material from the same tour, maybe even a couple of their monster hits ("She Talks to Angels," perhaps? Or "Jealous Again")? Give the fans that still actually purchase music their money's worth, especially in this easily BitTorrented day and age. Jeez.

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