Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes Live at the Greek

Definitely only for fans of Led Zeppelin but I was impressed by the quality of this concept and this 1999 recording. The Black Crowes do an exceptional job backing up Jimmy and his playing is top notch throughout. Before listening, I didn’t think that singer Chris Robinson would be able to compete with Robert Plant, but he is excellent – very similar without directly copying. The versions of the songs are closer to the studio takes than Zeppelin ever did and the expanded instrumental background really fills out the sound while not detracting from Jimmy’s wild soloing.

The Zep tunes encompass pretty much their entire career and added to that is a great collection of cool covers. One funny stand-out is “Shapes of Things to Come”, which uses the Jeff Beck Group arrangement from the Truth album as opposed to the way the Yardbirds played it during Jimmy’s tenure with the band. A great homage to another superb guitarist whose band some say was the template for Led Zeppelin.

Funnily enough, of all of the Zep tunes included on here, “Stairway to Heaven” is not one of them, which I, for one, did not miss and in fact, did not even notice until thinking about it!

Don’t look for any Black Crowes songs here – I believe that I read that there was some sort of record company restriction that stopped those from appearing – but besides the Zep, there are some nice blues covers, such as “Mellow Down Easy”, “Shake Your Money Maker” and a super version of Fleetwood Mac’s (from when they were a blues band, not from their wimpy-pop era) “Oh Well”.

Again, don’t buy this if you don’t like LZ, but for those who do, these are some of the most faithful live renditions ever recorded and some terrific extras, as well!