The Black Crowes

Music Review – Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes: Live at the Greek

Listening to Chris Robinson attempt to croon “In My Time of Dying” made me wish it was my time of dying. His effort to sing the “Woke Up This Morning” made me wish I hadn’t woke up this morning. This album was but should never have been. As one can guess, I won’t share a “Whole Lotta Love” in this review.

The concept struck me as ill-advised. I’ve never heard of a lead guitarist touring with a separate band and 99% of the set list being songs from his previous band. When this album came out in 1999, the Black Crowes had a pretty extensive musical catalog. While talented, they were no Led Zeppelin. Why then play primarily Zeppelin tunes? I don’t get this one.

And what was going on with Jimmy Page? In the late 1960’s, he took over the Yardbirds after joining. Thirty years later he felt the need to take over yet another band. In addition, he got the top billing. I’m sorry. If Eric Clapton felt comfortable with The Delaney and Bonnie on Tour with Eric Clapton title just two years after leaving Cream, Jimmy should’ve had the same sentiment 19 years after Zeppelin’s split.

At times I think Chris Robinson deserved credit for taking on Robert Plant’s songs. Then I listen to the result of his doing so. These cuts seem totally unsuited for his vocal style. He sounded like he strained to hit the high notes on every song. Even on the more tenor-based Yardbirds track “Shapes of Things to Come” he struggled to maintain the melody. Keith Relf sang the original on that one. To put it as politely as I can, Relf was no Robert Plant.

Some of the arrangements were painful to listen to. “Hey, Hey What Can I Do?” and “You’re Time is Gonna Come” are acoustic classics. Why plug in and crank them up? At least they did keep a mandolin in the former. The later just sounded silly. How silly? Think Metallica pounding out “Can’t Find My Way Home” or Megadeth breaking into “Dust in the Wind”. Still, they played them better than “The Lemon Song”.

I did like the band’s rendition of Peter Green’s “Oh, Well”. It reminded me of the rave-up style of early Yardbirds tracks, such as “Smokestack Lightning”. I’ve never heard the original version of that song, though. Judging from the rest of this review that could be the reason I enjoyed it.

I’d suggest Led Zeppelin fans pass on this one. Go back and listen to the originals of these songs. For Black Crowes fans, delete this one from your catalog. Even Jimmy Page’s presence can’t improve a bad concept. What a “Heartbreaker”.