Live at the Greek Album reviews.
Release Date: 07.04.00 Web www.blackcrowes.com
Record label: TVT Records
A Chance of a Lifetime
by: steven jacobetz
*Editor's Note: the following review refers to the Internet-only release originally made available at musicmaker.com. Steve, the critic, believes the current retail release is much better.
With former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant in one of his anti-Zep mood cycles, Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has teamed up with Atlanta's The Black Crowes for a full-scale American tour this summer beginning June 24th in Chicago and continuing through October. Page and the Crowes first tested the waters by playing a week's worth of gigs together last October. This 2-CD live compilation was culled from the last two shows of that week, Oct. 18-19, 1999, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.
Live at the Greek showcases Page and the Crowes in fine form, but the release itself is not without its flaws. Most notably, a legal dispute with the Crowes former record company, the label formerly known as Def American, prevented any of the Crowes recorded songs from being included on this compilation. So, although several well-known Crowes hits, such as "Hard To Handle" and "Remedy" were performed at the actual concerts, they are not included on these discs. What is left is a collection of Zep classics, and five cover songs of blues standards and classic rock hits, such as "Shake Your Money Maker" the old blues number which lent its title to the Crowes' classic 1990 debut album. Another blistering cover is "Oh Well" a song written by Peter Green, a guitarist in the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in the 1960s when the band was blues-centered. "Oh Well" partly inspired the Zeppelin staple "Black Dog."
Another flaw with this release is that the crowd noise fades out at the end of each number, ruining any sense of continuity. The reason the set is this way is that Musicmaker.com has given customers the option of customizing their own CDs by picking and choosing only the songs you want if you are so inclined. Thus, each selection is treated as an individual item. Be warned though that if you choose to customize your CDs, and/or you live outside of the United States, it may take you considerably longer to receive your discs from Musicmaker than it would if you just get the entire set as is.
The music itself is exceptional for the most part (when it is not marred by the very annoying constant ecstatic screams of a certain female fan.) It is great to hear Page and the Crowes attempt several Zeppelin songs that Zep itself rarely or never played live, such as "Custard Pie," "Hey, Hey What Can I Do" and a very good rendition of "Your Time Is Gonna Come." By the same token, they respectfully avoided such Zeppelin signature tunes as "Black Dog," "Kashmir," "Over The Hills And Far Away," "Rock and Roll," "Since I've Been Loving You" and especially "Stairway To Heaven," although they did indulge in "Whole Lotta Love." The arrangements are very faithful to the studio versions of the Zep tunes and for the most part lack the brilliant improvisations which made Zeppelin one of the best live bands ever, but that is to be expected since the Crowes were just learning the songs in most cases. It is nice to hear such songs as "Heartbreaker" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" enriched with a second guitar, provided by the Crowes' Rich Robinson. This arrangement allows these songs to recreate the fullness of sound provided by Page's overdubs in the studio.
Crowes' vocalist Chris Robinson is no Robert Plant. Drummer Steve Gorman is no John Bonham, and it takes two people, one on bass and one on keyboards, to try and fill the shoes of John Paul Jones, but everybody does an admirable job of it. I'd recommend you get any Zeppelin release before getting this "southern-fried" version of the band's music, but if you love blues-based rock, you should buy this sometime soon. This release only goes to prove that great music is eternal. For the most part, the song does indeed remain the same.
It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime for a 90s band like The Black Crowes to get to jam with Jimmy Page for an extended amount of time. I hope they realize how fortunate they are and thank Jimmy every day. We fans sure do.