The rather late first review from Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013!
I somehow missed this when it first came out! This double live album (acquired at Sonic Boom Music for the awesome price of $7.99), recorded in 2005, reunited the Robinson brothers with members from the classic era. Returning are Marc Ford (guitar), Ed Hawrysch (keyboards, from Toronto Ontario), Sven Pipien (bass) and original drummer Steve Gorham. I believe the original bassist, Johnny Colt, was busy with Rock Star Supernova at the time…
Anyway, with a set concentrated on classic Crowes tunes from the earlier albums with a few other gems, this is an awesome collection. There are a few later songs, such as a mind-blowing psychedelic version of “Soul Singing” (Lions). Many of the songs, “Soul Singing” included, turn into long extended jams. I wouldn’t call them meandering jams; they are spellbinding and with purpose at every moment.
The Crowes are backed by guests: the Left Coast Horns and backup singers. The horns kick ass on the extended “(Only) Halfway to Everywhere”. They transform “Welcome to the Goodtimes” into something a little more sassy, likewise with “Let Me Share the Ride”, and “Seeing Things” from the first LP. They also help stretch “Non Fiction” into 10 minutes of exploratory rock. The backup singers really compliment “My Morning Song” transforming it into an ecstatic moment.
I have always taken a bit of flak from other Crowes fans over my favourite album. Mine is Amorica, and most people I knew favoured Southern Harmony. Regardless, it’s a delight to hear “Wiser Time” from Amorica on this album. Songs like this are really special, and with most of the original players on it, “Wiser Time” shines.
I enjoy that the Crowes threw some rarities, covers and B-sides on Freak ‘n’ Roll. “Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz” and “Mellow Down Easy” are among the highlights of these tracks, but I was most excited about “The Night they Drove Ol’ Dixie Down”. The original is a favourite of mine so I couldn’t wait to hear the Crowes’ interpretation. And guess what? It’s awesome. It would be ludicrous to compare it to the original by The Band. All that matters is that the Crowes wring more soul out of the song than you’ll hear in modern rock on any given day.
The Walmart version of the CD came with a download code for a bonus track, the Stones’ “Loving Cup”. I obtained it via the seedy underbelly of the internets. On the DVD this was played after “Welcome to the Goodtimes”. I’m glad to have this song because the horns really fatten it up nicely, and it’s also a great tune!
Record Store Excursion 2013!