Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes - Live At The Greek

Previously available only the internet, now provided for general consumption, Live At The Greek marks a historic meeting of blues rock minds. The Crowes are a friggin' fantastic band for Jimmy to sidekick with, a mysterious, maligned juggernaut of their own, cocky, uncompromising, dark, morose, angry, and esteemed through their own Zep-like and Zep-worthy catalogue. Man, where to begin? First cool thing is that outside of four tracks on disc 2 (find and discard), there are no big obvious, tired and trampled Zep hits. These are all deep album tracks, if indeed there are any left, given radio's methodical exhaustion of the catalogue over the last 20 years. Ten Years Gone, Celebration Day (man, this explodes open), Out On The Tiles, Sick Again and man-o-war of magnificence In My Time Of Dying all get a welcome workout. One minor complaint: a few of these seem to be outside of Chris Robinson's range, causing a close creep to out of tune status on tunes like Celebration Day, Custard Pie and What Is And What Should Never Be. Not his fault: great vocalist, killer blues stylist, just often stuck in a spot he doesn't belong, not like Plant could even get close these days. The blues covers are also a treat, especially the rhythmic cathedrals built for Shapes Of Things and Oh Well, the latter being one of the great unsung (and exhilaratingly complicated) hard rock classics of all time. Kinda lame the band meekly couldn't stick out something the Crowes wrote. They should be proud of their canon, and it would have elevated their place in this nifty gadget of a thing to a level they've earned. I'm sorry, but in many ways, I simply see this as the Crowes playing oddball Zeppelin and similarly literary and learned blues, lubricated well, Jimmy there but heck, so are two other guys. In any event, you just feel the humming presence of the master, and like I say, the Crowes have their own myth and magic, the two creating a synergy that turns this from a mere blind date into a rarified sparkly event. Oh and by the way, idiot here couldn't get the CDROM to work. Yeah, I'm goo for grey, but these things should be idiot-proof; and where's the tiny instruction text? Imagine me trying to download the album off the net. And while we're at it, the liner notes are pretty much crap. A little play-by-play or background commentary would have been nice.
Rating 8.5

Various Artists - Covered Like The Scorpions: A Tribute To Scorpions

These things actually become extra high relief welcome now due to the fact that Deadline is pumping a steady supply of their electronica-based tributes (Cheap Trick being the latest to get the cyber-carve). But the presents spin is a pretty straight retelling of a bunch of awesome songs, George Lynch being the lead guitarist on the whole thing, pounding his way through within his old Dokken guise. As is Deadline's modus operandi, each gets a "where are they now?" vocalist icing the cake. So Joe LeSte does his usual out of tune butcher job on The Zoo, Kevin Dubrow snags the short straw and gets the albums only techno remix for Big City Nights, already a song handicapped by its watery, mid-fence composition. Propping up the proposal: Warrior Soul's Kory Clarke back from his survivalist bunker for In Trance, John Corabi smoke-vocalling a slippery He's A Woman, She's A Man, and an absolutely frightly Taime Downe turning Lovedrive into a deathdrag. Good stuff one third of the time, crap a third, and the last third, well, the kind of sonic pleasantry that might cause you to play this instead of one of your tragically trampled Scorps originals just for the slight stepside out of familiarity. It's worth the trip though, 'cos as a secret weapon, Lynch sporadically unleashes, reminding us of a time when shred had soul.
Rating 6.5

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