Good luck finding this one. The Sho’ Nuff Live EP came originally as part of the Sho’ Nuff box set released in the late 1990’s, no doubt as an extra incentive for hard core fans to re-buy the band’s first four albums, each of which were remastered with bonus tracks. Because, believe it or not, for a group who toured so prodigiously and were well known for their powerful performances, The Crowes were yet to issue an official live LP. Nowadays Crowes concerts are a dime a dozen, well, 15 dollars each in fact, and easily downloadable. But in 1998 things were a little different. In those bygone days people relied on what were known as record stores to sate their insatiable thirst, and actually had to get off their arses and leave the house to procure the products they wanted.
Recorded at The Beacon Theatre in New York, these five tracks were culled from performances made on 18th March and 22nd March 1995, respectively, and what performances they are. So good in fact that it is bewildering as to why the entireties of these shows have never seen the light of day, officially speaking.
First up is an uncompromisingly energetic version of “No Speak, No Slave”, from their second LP, the glorious The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, where the band is clearly determined to blow away their listeners and take no prisoners in the process. Marc Ford’s guitar solos are simply outstanding as always, full of fire and passion, while the other members sound just as equally possessed and ‘in the moment’.
“Sometimes Salvation”, also from Southern Harmony, is another blues-rock behemoth, where singer Chris Robinson belts it out in his own unique and raspy fashion. Things quiet down on the all acoustic “Cursed Diamond”, but are no less authoritative because of it. And when Robinson lets out a scream before singing “I want to shine for you/I want to sparkle too” one gets the impression that the man has clearly been round the block more than just once or twice.
On Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle”, The Crowes are joined on stage by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and perform a far grittier, more authentic interpretation than the one that appeared on their debut.
The CD concludes with one of the best versions of “Remedy” I’ve ever heard. Here The Crowes simply take flight in a manner that would give the early Rolling Stones a run for their money. However such comparisons are really neither here nor there, because The Black Crowes were their own beast, blasting out authentic rock in a way that was both traditional as well as inspiring.
For devotees of what is in my opinion the group’s ultimate line-up, this is an indispensable document of the boys in their entire drunk and drugged out heyday; and whether the complete concerts will ever find their way into the shops or on the internet in the near or distant future who can say. Although let us hope it is sooner rather than later, for the sake of the fans at least – because entropy isn’t making us any younger.