Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Album Review: The Black Crowes -Wiser For The Time

The Black Crowes
Wiser For The Time
** out of *****

Back in the late fall of 2010 The Black Crowes embarked on their Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys Tour as the band was looking at (another!) hiatus from playing live. The band was on a creative and performing high as the group and decided to make the shows 2 sets one acoustic, one electric that flex the bands musical muscles and satisfied long time fans as covers, deep cuts and favorites all were showcased.

The group has moved pretty heavy into the jamband world with each show being unique in playing and song selection. This has allowed the Crowes to work closely with nugs.net to release the majority of their live performances directly to the fan base via sound board recordings. However, after the bands elongated run at New York City's Best Buy Theater, the shows from that stand never were made available, with the rumor being an official live release would showcase those amazing nights of music. Wiser For The Time is that release and an odd one at that.

Being offered in a predominately vinyl format (also digital, but no CD's) the band made this a fan's focus rather then a widespread showcase of the nights. Also by combining the 4 night run into one release (granted a long one) the ebb/flow of a particular setlist and performance becomes altered.

This may have been the bands most diverse and strongest lineups, so the range on the album is excellent. On the first (acoustic) set of playing, "Downtown Money Waster", "Garden Gate" and "Better When Your Not Alone", all work in their own unique skins. The highlight of the first batch of tunes comes in the form of the Crowes covering "Hot Burrito #1" and "Hot Burrito #2" by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

When the band turns up the electricity the group energy bubbles up. "Tied Up and Swallowed" and "A Conspiracy" are both great, but the highlights here are the immaculate "Title Song" and "No Speak No Slave" whose intro sends chills up the spine. Closing with a cover of Little Feat's "Willin'" the band let it all hang out, but the energy doesn't seem exhausted.

There isn't a version of any song here that makes it a must own, or reinvents it in a way fans were dying for, yet all are professionally done. Quality wise things aren't crisper or alive then any of the downloads offered. The packaging also leaves a lot to be desired, which leads to the question of why this was released? 

Having seen one of the shows showcased here I can speak directly to the power the band brought to NYC and the dynamic playing Luther, Chris, Rich and the boys (and girls) displayed during this run, I just don't think that translates to this release unfortunately.
Wiser For The Time is Ok, but wouldn't it have been cooler to offer 4 shows in their entirety, even on vinyl, or keeping this special collection then just posting all the shows on Nugs.net after the fact? This mix/release cuts the overall vibe The Black Crowes achieved during this incarnation, I guess you just had to be there.  This reminded us of another release we felt the same way about.  Anyway...

Support the band here, buy the album here and peep some video from this run of shows here:     
"Title Song"

"Better When Your Not Alone"

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