Judge Gordon Sullivan has a crow that not only counts, but does calculus.
Live in its entirety for the first time.
Though there are origins in Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely" and the miserabilist pop of The Smiths, the early Nineties made self-loathing into the stuff of pop on a scale that dwarfs previous generations. Whether it's Radiohead with "Creep" or Beck with "Loser," bands were selling millions of copies on the back of songs about how much the singer wasn't worthy. "Mr. Jones" was a more subtle entry into the genre, with the loathing buried in lines like "Man, I wish I was beautiful," but the single propelled the album to No. 4 on the Billboard charts. Though they would have other well-charting singles (and a sophomore album with its own chart success), "Mr. Jones" became the signature song of The Counting Crows. Counting Crows: August and Everything After (Blu-ray) documents a 2007 concert where the band played their first album in its entirety. It's a solid document of a trip down memory lane for fans of the band.
In the heady days of so-called "classic rock," a band would only play a whole album if it was recent, and a concept album. Think Pink Floyd's The Wall. However, the past few years have seen numerous bands get together to play one of their classic albums in its entirety, sometimes reforming specifically to do so. This is a bummer for fans looking for new material, but for those who grew up with a particular album (especially if they heard it when too young to go see a show), this recent trend is a serious boon. Fans with a nostalgic view of 1993 can now enjoy a 2007 live performance of all eleven of the tracks on August and Everything After:
• "Round Here/Raining in Baltimore"
This is a release aimed squarely at the fans, a complete run through of a well-loved album by a band who've been road-testing this material for fifteen years. That means that this is an excellent combination of technical chops (since they've played these songs so often) mixed with little surprises (as the arrangements have morphed a little over the years). I'm not a huge fan of the band, nor have I seen them live. However, I can say that this is a band who seems to care about these songs giving them the kind of attention their fans think they're worthy of. Adam Duritz is in fine voice, able to switch from intimate, hushed tones to a full-on belt. The rhythm section keeps things tight, while the guitar work on display is appropriately pyrotechnic.
Counting Crows: August and Everything After (Blu-ray) looks like an accomplished, contemporary concert film. The AVC encoded transfer has a bright sheen to it, with strong detail throughout and solid black levels on the sometimes dark stage. Noise crops up here and there, but overall this is as good looking a concert as one could hope to get from a band with less of a stage show than U2. The audio options are similarly impressive. For those looking for the full surround experience, this disc includes both a DTS-HD and a Dolby 5.1 track. For those kicking it old-school, there's also an LPCM stereo track. All three sound excellent, with strong fidelity and no serious distortion. The mix is itself is impressive, with just enough crowd noise to keep the live feel without overwhelming the music, and the surround tracks do a good job of putting the instruments in the sound field. The lone extra is called "In Depth with Adam Duritz and Charlie GIllingham," and that pretty much describes it. We get a bit of interview with the pair talking about the band, its history, and the August and Everything After album.
This is the band's first live film. After their first two albums they released a double disc live set, which covered all of the August and Everything After album as well as their sophomore set Recovering the Satellites. So, fans have heard (or at least had the chance to hear) these songs before in a live context. I can totally see how this would be a popular release, trading in on the nostalgia for that first album, but longtime fans of the band could benefit from a release that treats more of the band's catalog. An video that included an entire set, not just a single album, of a recent show would be appreciated.
Fans of The Counting Crows—and especially their first album—will appreciate this Blu-ray release. It includes the entire album, almost in its original running order, played by a band that combines the experience of years on the road with the passion of those for whom the material still matters. The technical specs are up to snuff, and the set's extra gives a nice peek behind the scenes.
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