Superb live show from one of Rock’s true survivors
Recorded live at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia on 8th April 1989, but not released officially on CD until 1996, The King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents was captured after what had been, for Crosby at least, an extremely difficult decade. After a period in prison in the early ‘80s, Crosby slowly began the long and no doubt arduous process of rebuilding his life. Oh Yes I Can, David’s first solo album since 1971’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, saw a sober and rejuvenated Crosby emerge finally from the darkness, proving that neither age nor drug addiction had diminished his remarkable talents.
King Biscuit Hour finds the singer/guitarist in excellent form. Backed by a group of seasoned professionals – Michael Finnigan (keyboards), Dan Dugmore (guitar), Jody Cortez (drums), and Davey Farragher (bass) – the show is as intimate as it is commanding, with Crosby and Co successfully blending new material with the old in masterful fashion.
The CD opens with the acoustic “Tracks In The Dust” (from Oh Yes I Can), and the classic “Guinnevere.” The former has Crosby in reflective mode reflection, commenting “And my friend said you’ve been watching TV too much/And all that hippie hopefulness is just a crutch,” while on the latter, David breathes new life into what remains one of his finest ever compositions.
The life-asserting “Compass” is given an emotive reading, so too the tender “In My Dreams,” before turning up the volume on “Drive My Car,” one of Crosby’s more recent tunes. “Lady Of The Harbor,” “Oh Yes I Can,” and the rocking “Monkey And The Underdog” are all open-journal examples of David’s new-found sense of self-belief and purpose.
However it’s his earlier tunes which will have many fans heading to eBay. David puts his all into a powerful “Déjà Vu,” despite the absence of Stills and Nash, polishes off political-rocker “Night Time For The Generals,” then concludes the evening by taking the crowd back to Woodstock, thanks to hippie chestnuts “Wooden Ships,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” and the immortal “Long Time Gone,” each performed with the kind of gusto and conviction not heard since the ‘70s.
What’s ultimately remarkable about these performances is the strength of Crosby’s voice throughout, which, in spite of more than two decades of substance abuse, was as potent as ever (as it still is to this day). The rest of the band are superb as well, complimenting Crosby yet also pushing him to establish to the audience that night that yes, he did indeed still have it.
What The King Biscuit Flower Hour confirms is that David was finally back, and determined to be the best that he could be, regardless of his demons.