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Blues Traveler
Live From The Fall
by John Colling
Soundwaves, National
Nov, 1995

The wicked, double-time blues jam "Love and Greed" kicks off this first "official" live recording from Blues Traveler, and if you've never experienced the band live, it's a great place to start.

Actually, whether you're a full-fledged blues-head or someone who just digs the current radio staples "Hook" and "Run-Around", this 2-CD, three-hour collection is a panoramic snapshot of what the band does best - play hard, play long, and play live. You'll especially enjoy Live from the Fall if you're gonna venture out to catch the band at the H.O.R.D.E. Tour stop at Southwestern College on July 26.

Singer/harmonica player John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, bassist Bob Sheehan, and drummer Brendan Hill have always been a most generous live act, never giving a chintzy performance, preferring to leave their fans breathless from exhaustion rather than waiting for more. A couple of unreleased tracks are two highlights among many here: the slow groove of "Regarding Steven" and the epic, rambling excursion of "Closing Down The Park", narrated ever so eloquently by Popper.

As CD number 1 continues, the lilting delicacy of "100 Years" is followed by the three-and-a-half-minute blitzkrieg of "Crash Burn" where Popper, Kinchla, Sheehan and Hill all take "call and response" breaks on their respective musical implements, Kinchla taking his spot a bit further in a dazzling workout. He's on a roll now, and carries it over into "Gina". Spectacular, as is Popper's harp workout on the same tune.

Displaying Blues Traveler's affinity for free-form jamming, "Alone" begins CD number 2 in a loose but marvelous near-13 minute version that rises and falls in its intensity, utilizing dynamic expression most any musician could be envious of.

Popper's known mainly for his hellfire approach to the harp, and a vocal style that borders on being hysterical. But a track like "Mountains Win Again" shows a softer side to his emotive gift. Here he sings slowly, clearly, and fervently, which is sure to be a welcome revelation to many.

Add a few more B.T. originals, and covers of War's "Low Rider" and John Lennon's "Imagine", and you've got a fine live recording by any standard.

The best thing about Blues Traveler's live show is that it's totally unpretentious - kinda like a bunch of really talented kids playing for a dozen friends in their drummer's mom's garage. And they know how to spread out and enjoy their songs on stage. Expect the unexpected. If you want note-for-note versions in a live setting, better wait for that Journey reunion tour, 'cause you won't get that attitude here.