I’ve always thought the best way to judge a rock music album is to hear the songs played live. Most bands, however, are hesitant to play a new record in its entirety, as some fans want to hear the established Top 40 hits and nothing more. Well, The Black Crowes haven’t really had a radio hit since 1992’s “Remedy,” from The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion, even though they’ve released several great records since. The latest, Warpaint, came after a seven-year absence of new material and represents something of a rebirth for the band. As such, Warpaint Live is an energized take on the complete Warpaint album – all played here close to the cuff, but very convincing. Vocalist Chris Robinson sounds as into the material as he’s ever been, and new guitarist Luther Dickinson is the perfect foil to Rich Robinson’s rhythm chops. In all, it’s a stirring set: Whether the bump-and-grind heaviness of “Walk Believer Walk,” the gentle pleas of “Oh Josephine” or the gospel shake of “God’s Got It,” the Crowes make a strong case that the best Warpaint is live Warpaint.
Disc 2 is a six-song set, consisting of four excellent covers and two Crowes’ originals. The Crowes have an excellent sense of classic rock history and revive J. Ford and Delaney Bramlett‘s “Poor Elijah/Tribute To Johnson”; Eric Clapton and Bonnie Bramlett‘s “Don’t Know Why”; the Rolling Stones’ “Torn And Frayed”; and finish with Moby Grape’s “Hey Grandma.” And no other band can put their stamp on these classics like the Crowes. Of the two Crowes’ tunes – “Darling Of The Underground Press” and “Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye” – it’s the latter that brings the house down. Chris Robinson’s primal scream near the song’s end is the best.