Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – June 11, 1992
Disc 1 (46:52) Intro, No Speak No Slave, Sting Me, Twice As Hard, Thick ‘n Thin, Hot Burrito # 2, Thorn In My Pride, Seeing Things, Hotel Illness, Black Moon Creeping
Disc 2 (43:19) Hard To Handle, Remedy, Stare It Cold, Dreams, My Morning Song, Jealous Again
When I saw Zodiac was releasing some Black Crowes titles I must admit I was pleasantly surprised, I am a long time fan of the Robinson Brothers and the various incarnations of the Crowes as well as their solo outputs as well. Most people, myself included, first heard of the band when they exploded on the music scene in 1990 with their debut Shake Your Money Maker which had a sound like the best of early 70’s rock and roll with an attitude to match. That platinum selling debut had plenty of radio friendly songs but there was a good piece of diversity in their sound and for me, the band would come into their own over the course of the following three records, all of which still get regular airplay in my home. Their second record, dubbed The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion was released in May 1992 and was a leap forward in musicianship and songwriting.
In June 1992, the band would play 10 dates in Japan, this release documents the last of three shows at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo with audio being sourced from an excellent soundboard source. What is interesting is that the band was already starting to vary their set lists from night to night, something they would expand upon greatly in the coming years. As stated the recording is an excellent soundboard, there is some hiss present and it is somewhat thin sounding as well. The audience is very low in the mix but the instruments and vocals are perfectly balanced and sound great when played loud.
For most, this is the definitive line up of the band, Chris on vocals, Rich on guitar, Johnny Colt on bass, Steve Gorman on drums and joined by lead guitarist extraordinaire Marc Ford and freaky old Ed, aka Eddie Harsch on keyboards. This line up gelled immediately, as evident in the songwriting on Southern Harmony and in their live performances where the band was finally able to start really stretching out. The intro is a brief boogie jam with a pregnant pause that leads into the cymbal intro to No Speak No Slave, and what a mother of an opener, even through the guitars sound a bit out of tune at the beginning, the song bristles with energy. Chris greets the Tokyo audience and the band play another new song, Sting Me has some nice funky organ from Eddie, the energy continues as the band rock through Twice As Hard and Thick ‘n Thin from their debut. Chris introduces the next song as being by Gram Parsons who played “Cosmic American Music” and they play, for the first time live, their rendition of The Flying Burrito Brothers Gilded Palace of Sin classic Hot Burrito # 2. The Crowes would cover other Parsons tunes, most notably She and would be my first exposure the Gram’s wonderful music and quite sad tale.
Thorn In My Pride is played back to back with Seeing Things, the former features some nice dueling guitars, something they would perfect on the next record with Wiser Time. Seeing Things really gets into a slow soul almost gospel like jam that is equally as nice. Black Moon Creeping is cut and only the first three minutes are here.
The certainly Grateful Dead influenced version of Hard To Handle starts the second disc, Chris asking for some love for Otis Redding. Remedy and a great version of Stare It Cold finish the main set proper. The encores are nice and a bit long, although I’m not complaining. The first is a cover version of The Allman Brothers Band classic Dreams. The band had started playing it May 1991 during a show on Beale Street in Memphis where Gregg Allman sat in with them, and would be a regular addition for pretty much the bands duration as a live act. Like the 1991 versions, the song would be like an early showcase for Rich to showcase his slide skills, and when combined with Marc Ford’s leads, would conjure up the spirit of the Brother Duane Allman, 12 minutes of guitar improvisation at its best. My Morning Song makes its appearance late in the set, this song would become a great song to jam and improvise around in coming years and the concert ends proper with a killer version of Jealous Again.
The packaging is simple full color inserts adorned with pictures from the Southern Harmony time, picture CD’s and a sticker are here as well and are packaged in a slim lined jewel case. I have listened to many a concerts from this tour, glad to add another to my list, nice to get a new Crowes boot into my collection, have not seen a silver release from them since….well I can’t remember when. For Crowes fan this is a must have and for those who want more check out the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the Magpie Salute, the music is still alive and well.