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Published: 2009/08/10
by Brian Ferdman

The Black Crowes Warpaint Live

Eagle Vision
In 2005, after a five year hiatus, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson re-kindled their often caustic but typically productive relationship with The Black Crowes. Since that time, the band has been on a creative streak, writing plenty of original material and releasing critically acclaimed albums. Of course, this rebirth has not been without its share of feuding and controversy, as a few key band members have quit or have been summarily dismissed and replaced. The latest addition has been North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson, and on The Black Crowes new DVD, Warpaint Live, he more than proves that he belongs in this band.
Opening with a track-by-track rundown of their latest album, Warpaint, The Black Crowes deliver with their signature, raunchy Southern rock sound. Dickinsons searing slide fits perfectly and leads the charge with gusto. There is no fear in his playing, and he unleashes nasty lines and solos with a fury that is only matched by Chris Robinsons growling voice. However, as tenacious as these fist-pumping numbers may be, this is nothing more than familiar territory. Then something interesting happens when drummer Steve Gorman dons a marching band outfit and comes center stage to play the bass drum on every downbeat by using a tambourine as a mallet on Gods Got It. Suddenly, the band is tearing into a viciously primal blues rundown, grinding and pulsating with fire and brimstone. The partially acoustic Whoa Mule adds nice textures with Gorman scaling down to a mere dumbek drum and Chris Robinson contributing harmonica in between pathos-laden vocals that seem to marry the troubadour ethos of Bob Dylan with the Western storytelling of Marty Robbins. Poor Elijah/Tribute To Johnson (Medley) spins some soulful blues that gives Dickinson plenty of room to cut loose with a funky solo. The Rolling Stones Torn and Frayed serves as a fine country-soul vehicle to be re-cast in the Crowes image, and Moby Grapes Hey Grandma is a fun and rollicking finale.
It really is remarkable how well Dickinson has integrated himself into the band, and his guitar work is constantly shining throughout this March 20, 2008 performance from Los Angeles Wiltern Theater. In fact, integrated really doesnt do him justice because he has truly elevated this unit to another level, and through a variety of impressive camera angles and remarkably crisp sound, Warpaint Live is a testament to Luther Dickinsons tremendous impact on The Black Crowes, an enhancement that has seemingly invigorated this group and prepared them for a nice runfor as long as he remains in the band.

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