With a healthy 72:13, this live Blues Traveler disc has changed my idea of the new Blues Traveler that re-emerged in 2001. I saw three live BT shows that year, with the new members on bass and keyboards. I loved the new lineup, but I was seriously disappointed with the sound production every time, and mostly with Brendan Hill's drum kit. Since the snare drum had absolutely no commanding 'pop', the drums just sounded like a mushy warm wall of 'thuds'. I actually wrote to the band's manager, in an effort to let the sound crew get their act together because the performances were there, but this did not sound like a professional band. John Popper himself has often said he doesn't like to go to concerts all that much, because he thinks they're boring. I can only say they are past boring when the sound is not there. This brings me to the new CD that has given me the Blues Traveler live 'fix' I never really got last year. Being a fan since 1992, (during a hearty Travelers and Thieves era) there was some 'fixing' to be done.

First is the appropriate title: What You and I Have Been Through. The band certainly has been through enough highs and lows. The start of the CD is a greeting from Popper to the freshly devastated locals of NYC. He proceeds to dedicate a very Hendrix-influenced "Star Spangled Banner" that goes into a high quality "Slow Change." As soon as the 3:00 mark hits, this tune soars, and it's when I knew the rest of the CD would too. The very end of "Slow Change" suddenly (and brilliantly) cuts into a surprise mellow piano jam. Some other highlights include "Pattern." This is one of their strongest songs ever, with the writing as intricate as a progressive rock band, but with a funk meter. Another track that makes this CD a winner is "Rage." It features a very key special guest saxophonist Carl Young, and the tune has a funny paradox as Popper yells "RAGE!!!" that goes into a super jazzy and mellow jam. It works really well!

As a long time fan, I was glad to not see "Runaround" and "Hook" on this CD. The sound is good, and the drums sound like drums again. I recommended this CD for both the hard cores and the beginners that don't know how well Blues Traveler actually jams on stage. (They started as a Miles Davis-Bitches Brew-type band.) I look forward to the next show, and if it's near Wisconsin, I'll see you there!

Peter D'Amore
JamBase | Wisconsin
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[Published on: 12/12/02]

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