Live @ Luther College Album reviews.
Release Date: 01.19.99
Record label: Bama Rags / RCA
Better Than Anything Else Around
by: bill aicher
1998 was a great year to Dave Matthews, he and his band released their third album, Before These Crowded Streets and sold out venues across the nation. Their massive ticket sales are to be expected, as they have been hailed by many as one of the best live bands of all time. Now, the question to be asked was what to give the fans next... it was too soon to release a new studio album, and they have already released a live concert (Live @ Red Rocks). What better thing to do than to release something totally new, yet familiar?
This is where we get Live at Luther College. It is something the general populous has not been able to get their hands on, unless they bootlegged. Recorded on February 6, 1996, this is a complete concert of just Dave and Tim on acoustic guitars. No drums, no bass, no sax, no fiddle - just guitar.
You may be wondering why you would want another live Dave album. The answer is simple - this is like nothing Dave has ever released before. The vocals truly shine through in a work like this. There is no outside influence from the band in the songs' compositions - these are the songs as they were meant to be heard. It is a professional recording, so there is not as much fuzz or loss of quality as is found in a bootleg. However, the biggest difference lies in the concert date itself.
This concert was from before the days when Dave reigned supreme. As of February of '96, Crash and Before These Crowded Streets had not yet been released. Hence, the lack of off-key fans singing along to their favorite tunes. Songs like "Crash Into Me" and "Two Step" are played, and you can actually hear Dave.
Dave acoustic is unlike anything you have ever heard before. The bare essentials are there, giving the vocals more control than ever. "Warehouse," "Typical Situation," "Jimi Thing," and "Seek Up" are some of the more impressive tracks on the album. The haunting moans and wails of Matthews in the intro to "Warehouse" draw the listener into his world. "Two Step" still retains its driving force, even without the driving drum beats - which are prominent on the album versions.
Any Dave fan will consider this album a necessity. I think this album has the potentiality to draw in some people who do not consider themselves fans. There is no denying the raw talent displayed on this album. Reynolds is a superb guitarist (one listen to "Stream" - his solo track, will prove that). Matthews is superb as well, but he truly shines on the vocals.