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CD Reviews:  Black Crowes: Live

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Following a new studio album in the spring of 2001 (Lions), a sold-out tour with Oasis and six months of headlining arena dates, the Black Crowes posted a message on their Website this past January that declared drummer Steve Gorman was out of the band and the Robinson brothers were officially on "hiatus" to pursue, among other things, solo interests. Instantly, the industry speculation was that this all-too-briefly legendary band from Atlanta, who stormed through a brilliant string of six albums in 11 years, was breaking up for good. While I don't necessarily believe this new double live collection, The Black Crowes: Live, is their farewell offering, it certainly plays out like a perfect career retrospective.

Cleaner than any bootleg recording and yet just as authentic, Live captures the Black Crowes the way they were always meant to be experienced…on stage! Recorded during two nights at The Orpheum Theater in Boston last October, these songs revisit a nearly complete history of each album (unfortunately, with the exception of 1998's By Your Side). Old concert staples like "Black Moon Creeping" and "Wiser Time" sound as fresh and inspired as they did during their first tours, while crowd favorites "Sting Me" and the smash "Hard To Handle" are revved up to a more torrid pace than their album originals. The bitch of any live project lies in the details, but this 19-song masterpiece succeeds because the careful and critical ears of Rich Robinson are responsible for both mixing and producing. He does a flawless job of keeping crowd noise to a minimum, maintaining the crashing drums of Gorman, and not cheating any of his own guitar parts. The extended Allman Brothers-like jam during songs like "High Head Blues" provides a good example of what to expect if you've never had the privilege of taking in a Crowes show for yourself. 

Never short on the gospel preaching of frontman Chris Robinson, the Black Crowes manage to grind along through beautiful live ballads ("Miracle to Me" and "She Talks to Angels") while consistently delivering the over-the-top guitar rock ("Remedy" and "Twice as Hard") that transcends time and musical category. It's this indefinable quality that has their legion of fans hoping this new live release merely marks the end of a chapter and not a career.

~Red Rocker

Other Black Crowes reviews:
Lions (2001)
Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992) : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

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