|Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes - Live at the Greek|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Friday, 27 October 2000|
Led Zeppelin, originally panned by critics, is now the one of the most legendary and influential acts that has ever graced a concert stage or recording studio. Bands such as Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and The Black Crowes might not exist today if it weren’t for four lads from Birmingham, England, who ripped off American blues standards with a hard rock flair, which resulted in music that was as powerful and gritty as it was epic and experimental. As prolific as the band was, the only live albums that Led Zeppelin has released are the soundtrack to the film ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and 1998’s BBC sessions. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant toured as Page & Plant in 1995 and released the albums ‘No Quarter’ and 1998’s ‘Walking into Clarksdale,’ but these weren’t enough for either Jimmy or true Zep fans. Last year, Page hooked up with the Black Crowes for a six-date, sold-out tour. The result is ‘Jimmy Page and Black Crowes - Live at the Greek.’
Disciples of the church of Zeppelin, The Black Crowes pull of the task of "filling in" for the rest of Jimmy Page’s Zeppelin cronies as though they were born to do the job. I had this CD in my multi-disc changer and when "Celebration Day" started playing, I thought that I had accidentally left ‘The Song Remains the Same’ spinning. The Black Crowes’ vocalist Chris Robinson has nearly the vocal range of the vintage Robert Plant and, although he’s not the young sorcerer that he once was, Jimmy Page still plays with the same energy and power that defined the Led Zeppelin sound. The fact that Jimmy Page is still rocking like it is 1978, even though he’s now well into his 50s, proves that AC/DC was right: "Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution, rock and roll ain’t gonna die."
Recorded live in the summer of 1999 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles during two different performances, ‘Live at the Greek’ is a double CD that features 20 songs. Most of these are Led Zeppelin covers, along with several blues numbers such as "Shake Your Money Maker," "Woke Up This Morning" and "Sloppy Drunk." As an added value, TVT Records has included enhanced material, such as rare video footage from the concert and an exclusive photo gallery that can be viewed on a PC or a Macontosh with a CD rom. The video footage is a very nice touch, despite a bit of choppy editing and the fact that it plays on a small window. Most people were not lucky enough to be at the actual concert, but they can get a little taste of Jimmy and the Crowes with this live video montage. Jimmy Page looks as if he’s having more fun now than he ever did back in Zeppelin’s heyday. This is a music collaboration that just plain works. The blues songs are the only downside to this record, but they are few and far between and give the band a little chance to relax and just jam, rather than be forced to imitate Led Zeppelin for over two hours straight.
All of the Zeppelin songs on this album are strong, but a few of them stand out above the rest. "In My Time of Dying" takes the original song and kicks it up a notch, with three guitars blazing. Chris Robinson’s vocals are powerful and so close to Robert Plant’s rendition that it is uncanny. The Black Crowes guitarists Rich Robinson and Audley Freed add a new dimension to the songs, but they never overshadow Jimmy Page.
"Out on the Tiles" is another Zep jam that the Crowes and Page perform so well that you’ll be thinking that Robert and John Paul snuck up on stage to sit in. The crowd favorite "Whole Lotta Love," which fittingly enough is the final track on the album, takes the most liberties with the original. The guitar solo that Jimmy Page plays is so indulgent it’s almost ridiculous if taken out of context, but this tour was about having fun and that is made apparent on this track.
The sound quality of this album isn’t good enough to wow people with your sound system, but it doesn’t sound like a bootleg either. It gets the point across well and producer Kevin Shirley, with the help of LeMobile Recording Facilities, has captured two magical evenings on tape, hand-picking the best-sounding songs for this album. The drums aren’t quite as big and funky as Bohnam played them, the bass lines don’t move with the precision of John Paul Jones and Page’s guitar work doesn’t conjure up spirits like it used to, but Led Zeppelin fans, Black Crowes fans and rock and roll fans will want to pick up this disc and pretend that it’s 1978 all over again.