Judge Steve Power has been over the hills and back, and survived every kind of attack.
"Grab a hollow branch, uncoil the road."—Michael Klausman
The Black Crowes are a band who have been around the block. Picked to be the darlings of the music scene in the very early hours of the '90s, heir apparent to the arena rock throne sat upon by the likes of The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, they would disappear within half a decade, made obsolete by the chaotic battles of Grunge and Alternative and the rise and fall of Heavy Metal. It was oh so easy to write these boys from Atlanta off as a stodgy '70s revival act—even Denis Leary took his swings in No Cure For Cancer—but the band would soldier on, even through dwindling record sales. While primarily remembered for their scorching cover of Otis Redding's "Hard To Handle," The Black Crowes had an amazing body of work steeped in Southern Blues, Rock, and barroom stomp.
After a seven year hiatus, the band returned with 2007's Warpaint, quite possibly the strongest album of their storied career. The Brothers Robinson were joined by slide-guitar virtuoso Luther Dickinson and, with a sound closer than ever to their roots, efforts would hand them more praise and critical acclaim than any previous albums (with the exception of one controversial Maxim magazine review, published one month before anyone outside the band had even heard the disc).
The Black Crowes: Warpaint Live, recorded in March 2008, presents the entirety of the album and every track is a winner. "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" is an awesome rocker and no better way to announce their return. "Oh Josephine" brings back memories of a long time ago, when myself and and old girlfriend discovered a Crowes ballad called "She Talks To Angels." While I still cherish that beautiful song, "Josephine" might just be a little better. "Locust Street" is another melancholy number, hitting on the hard times and poverty of the working class, easily carving a comfortable place next to similarly themed works by Dylan and Springsteen. "God's Got It," originally penned by Reverend Charlie Jackson, is a stomper, complete with standing bass drum. "Woah Mule" closes out the Warpaint portion of the show with its earthy jangle and chanting chorus. Beyond the fantastic album tracks, many of which are performed here with even more life and presence than what's on the original disc, The Crowes also give us an old favorite in the form of "Bad luck, Blue eyes, Goodbye," and a few covers, including a fantastic cover of The Stones' "Torn and Frayed" and Clapton's "Don't Know Why."
Would I recommend The Black Crowes: Warpaint Live to the uninitiated? Hell yes! While it may not contain much in the way of signature Black Crowes material, each and every song here is a fantastic offering, and fans of blues based rock with a slight tint of Southern country color would almost assuredly enjoy what's on offer. Freak and Roll…Into the Fog may give you a better overall cross-section of the Crowes' past material (itself an amazing concert), but this is just a wonderful piece of work, more cohesive as a whole than the typical style of concert playing, the band benefitting hugely from not having to drop in a greatest hit every few minutes.
Eagle Rock's treatment of the Blu-ray disc is every bit as good as this amazing concert. The 1080i High Definition image is pristine and clear, a simply beautiful image, perfectly capturing the colors of the stage and the fine details. Every hair of Chris Robinson's Jesus beard is visible. The audio is top notch as well. The LPCM stereo track is loud and the bass kicks like a mule, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 track suitably spreads the sound around the room without losing fidelity or oomph. The real star of the show is the immersive DTS-HD Master Audio track, which sounds about as good as it gets without being there. There are no extras present, outside of a nice little booklet, but I didn't really miss them either. The concert is the reason we're here.
I've gushed enough. The Black Crowes are one of the best American Rock 'N Roll bands still in the business. As a music lover, you owe it to yourself to have this Blu-ray in your collection.
There's gold in this disc! Not Guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
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