In Concert, vol. 1 – The Sadies
Yep Roc 2122
It must have been some oddball rock’n roll godfather’s decree to have one alt-country live double CD per year. Last year’s model from the Old 97’s was an efficient greatest-hits-live affair: four guys, no guests, no new tunes, only one cover.
This year, the Sadies have put together an entirely different sort of shebang. The presence of Garth Hudson and two Robbie Robertson songs might get the attention of some Band fans, so they can think of this as Rock Of Ages with a Last Waltz-sized guest list. The surf-country Canadians (guitarist/vocalist brothers Dallas and Travis Good plus bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky) double as a self-contained accompaniment unit and dabble in psychedelia, and each style shows up here, along with most of the guys and gals who’ve shared the stage and studio with this quartet.
The first CD plays things relatively straight: Sadies originals plus a mini-set featuring the Good brothers’ parents and uncles and a few conservative cameos from Hudson and Kelly Hogan. Musicians first and writers second, the Sadies benefit from being able to string together old and new songs without much concern for making a thematic statement or getting on the radio. And they get to have some fun on the second disc as guests predominate and all caution goes to the wind an incomplete list of the attractions includes Jon Spencer’s psycho rockabilly, Andre Ethier’s Beefheart-meets-’65-Dylan stylings, Jon Langford’s Brit working class poet act and a Floydian interlude featuring side project the Unintended, with Neko Case’s songs about as sane as it gets.
With Steve Albini recording (possibly aided by the mixing decisions of Dallas Good and collaborators), this CD set packs the feeling of a night which many might only partly remember the next day. A haze of crowd noise hangs over every second, amps sometimes act up and an occasional drum fill is more exuberant than accurate, but a good time is had by all. The Sadies appear to be enjoying life in their indie-bound but well-populated niche.
P.S. Volume One? Perhaps the Sadies are staking their claim to next year’s double-CD slot.