Since they burst onto the MTV scene in 1990 with a robust remake of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” and an electrifying debut (Shake Your Money Maker), the Black Crowes have mastered the art of insta-classic rock, churning out album after album of old-school boogie inspired by the Stones and the Allman Brothers. Now teetering on the verge of collapse, the Crowes have produced their second live effort, recorded during a 2001 “farewell” tour.
Following in the excessive footsteps of their classic-rock antecedents, the boys have bid adieu with a blistering, 19-track double album, complete with fan favorites (“High Head Blues,” “Sting Me”) and rollicking renditions of their biggest hits (“Remedy,” “Twice as Hard”). Clocking in at more than 100 minutes, it’s an essential collectible for even casual Crowes fans, proving that the band, which flamed out creatively after the 1996 release of Three Snakes and One Charm, never lost its formidable edge as a live act. What’s more, Robinson sounds perfectly self-possessed with a voice wonderfully on the edge of collapse, one that is equal parts scruff, weed, sweat and salt. And the tube-warm guitars are as loud as humanly possible, barely allowing Eddie Harsch’s comely Southern key-clinks to flicker through. A classic rock ’n’ roll record, then, even without “Hard to Handle.”
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