Deep Cuts: Dave Matthews Band
If your exposure to the Dave Matthews Band consists of the 40,000 times your girlfriend forces you to listen to "Satellite," you probably can't stand them. That's fine. But if you've gone to one DMB show, you know that Dave is anything but some lone crooner softly singing sweet nothings.
Dave's a man possessed on stage. Every photograph of Dave in front of a microphone shows him either coiled like a snake at the ready, or the moment immediately after, where he's literally attacking it, leaning into the crowd like a thrill seeker on a beach in a hurricane leaning into the wind, almost held upright by the energy of the crowd which leans in equal dependence forward onto him. He is an aggressive front man, shouting out his music as if to shout harder would kill him.
It's in that spirit that Deep Cuts DMB features a lot of live recordings. There are some studio cuts…most notably from 2002's Busted Stuff, regularly cited as DMB's best studio album. But to appreciate DMB, you must listen to them live, on stage, creating an incredible place that is, to paraphrase Dave, "better than this" to find "the best of what's around."
Founded in 1991 in Charlottesville, VA, DMB takes its spiritual lead from Dave, born in South Africa, a musical influence evident throughout the music. The best musician in the band, by far, is drummer Carter Beauford, who is regularly named as one of the greatest drummers who have ever lived. A musician friend of mine, asked to compare Carter to guys like John Bonham, Keith Moon or Stewart Copeland, once said that Carter is capable of executing riffs that none of those guys ever even attempted. At one show, I watched in amazement as he blasted out a solo more complicated than I could imagine, all the while smiling like this was the most fun he'd ever had…oh, and he was also chewing on bubble gum, and blowing bubbles. With violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard, keyboardist Peter Griesar, and saxman Leroi Moore, DMB creates a unique sound as identifiable as any rock band of our time.
So here are my DMB Deep Cuts. Be prepared: if you put all this on one CD (it'll probably require two), you may be listening to it for months
"Don't Drink the Water" –
Concert at Central Park
DMB often starts shows with this rocker, and you can hear the awe in Dave's voice at seeing Central Park filled with humanity as far as the eye can see. His vocals are a tour de force.
"#41" / "Say Goodbye" –
Two studio cuts to give you a breather after listening to "Don't Drink the Water." Rarely performed together on stage, but they work together incredibly well on Crash.
"You Never Know" – Busted Stuff
Not often played live. If you're feeling down, listen to this cut. You'll feel better. Dave has a way of making you feel better.
"Bartender" – Busted Stuff
Another vocal masterpiece, from their best studio album to date. Have some Jack Daniels around. You'll want to hear it again after a shot or two.
"When the World Ends" –
Phunky with a P-H. Studio version is just as good as live versions, although I may get some flak for that.
"What You Are" – Concert at Central Park
Opens with Dave singing "Alleluia," as if in prayer. Proceeds to rock out.
"Dancing Nancies" –
Live At Red Rocks 8.15.95
Usually performed before "Warehouse," which is the next song on this list but from a different show. Sing and dance. The thrill of it all.
I saw DMB at the Gorge in WA last year, and it's easily the coolest venue they play. They certainly seem to prefer it, as well. It comes through in this fan favorite.
"Two Step" – The Gorge
Great bass intro, which has become the prompt to the crowd that this super favorite is on the way. Put on your dancin' shoes.
"Best of What's Around" – Live At Red Rocks 8.15.95
Might be the definitive performance of this definitive song.
"One Sweet World" –
Live At Luther College (with Tim Reynolds)
Mellow out with this one, you'll need a break. The entire album is sublime, but this song captures the mood of a small venue perfectly.
"Typical Situation" – Live at Luther College (with Tim Reynolds)
Another mellow cut, this song seems best performed in a duet. I've heard it at shows with the whole band, and believe that this version is the best.
"Tripping Billies" –
Remember Two Things
A must-have in any DMB song list. Not the most performed song in their songlist, and the studio version works well.
"Jimi Thing" – Concert at Central Park
Great guitar solo by guest Warren Haynes, and like all the other cuts on the Central Park recording, it benefits from the atmosphere.
"Pantala Naga Pampa" –
Another must-have, from what many consider to be the most important live recording. Great way to end any Dave CD.