Former Black Crowes member Rich Robinson has been on something of a tear lately, re-issuing a handful of his previous recordings. Those recordings include Paper, Llama Blues, Through A Crooked Sun, and Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3. The prior pair of recordings was recently re-issued back in February of this year. The latter was released just last Friday, April 15th. Needless to say the first pair of recordings easily fits on any critic’s list of this year’s crop of CD re-issues (as opposed to CD and DVD/BD re-isses). Listening through the latter pair the same applies, too. Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3 shows in its own way why Robinson’s second pair of re-issues fits into this year’s list of top new CD re-issues just as easily as his first pair of re-issues. It shows first and foremost through the album’s approach. Yes, it is an actual album. But Robinson and his band mates actually recorded it in front of a live, in-studio audience. That’s original to say the least. And it is just one element of the album that makes the album stand out. There is no way that the band’s performance of its songs wasn’t tied in to the fact that the album was recorded in a semi-live setting. Keeping that in mind, the performance of the songs is just as important to this album as the approach taken to the album in whole. Also keeping in mind the setting for the recording, its audio mix proves to be just as surprising as the album’s setup and its result. All things considered Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3 shows in the end to be one more great re-issue from the former Black Crowes member as well as one of 2016’s top new CD re-issues.
Rich Robinson’s newly re-issued album Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3 is not the first of his recordings to be re-issued so far this year. As a matter of fact it is the fourth of his recordings to be re-issued. Along with those three other recordings, it is one more of this year’s top new CD re-issues. It shows this in part through its general approach. Robinson and his fellow musicians—Dan Wistrom (guitar, vocals), Ted Pecchio (bass, vocals), Matt Slocum (keyboards), and Joe Magistro (drums, vocals)—recorded the album in what can only be called a non-standard way. It was recorded in a studio. But it was also recorded in front of a small, live audience, too. Few other bands past or present have ever taken such an approach in recording a studio album. There are some that have. But they are so few and far between that it makes the band’s approach in this case not entirely original but still creative in its own right. The only indication that listeners get to this setup ahead of listening to the album is the full notation of the approach inside the CD’s cover. Those that don’t typically pay attention to albums’ liner notes will be caught off guard (in a good way) by this in a good way. That’s because listeners don’t even hear the audience until the end of each song. It makes the listening experience and the album feel more organic and welcoming for audiences. Speaking of that organic feel, it had to have been the effect of the band’s reaction to the intimate setting. That is another important element to consider in this recording.
The approach that Robinson and his fellow musicians took in recording Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3, while perhaps not entirely original, is rather creative considering how few other bands and musical acts have taken the same or similar approaches to recording studio albums. The live environment created by having a small in-studio audience really gives the record a special feel. That live environment obviously had just as much of an impact on the band as it will have on listeners. That is clear in listening to the band’s performance of each of the album’s songs. So many of the songs featured in this recording are not just standard 3:30 – 5:30 songs. There are a number of songs that go from being those songs to full on jam sessions. They include but are not limited to: ‘Laila II,’ ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While,’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby.’ In every case the jam sessions in question feel wholly organic. It was almost as if Robinson and company knew the audience was there and wanted to present a live setting even though they were recording a studio album. One would think that holding that knowledge in mind as they recorded each song, it would either prevent the jam sessions in whole or would make them feel far less natural. But thankfully that wasn’t the case. Because of this the band’s performance of each of the album’s songs will keep home listeners just as engaged and entertained as the audience that was there during the album’s recording process. It still is not the last of the album’s notable elements. The record’s audio mix is just as important to its presentation as the band’s performance and its overall approach to recording the album.
Both the band’s approach to recording Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3 and the band’s performance/recording of each song are key elements to the overall presentation of this record. As important as each element proves to be to the album they are not its only notable elements. The album’s audio mix is just as important to the album’s presentation as those noted elements. Here is why: Being that the band wanted to give the album its own creative, live setting meant having to hold a certain balance in the album’s audio. The audience was there to soak up the sound. And likely there were other sound dampeners. But what is really important to note of the production is that those involved in the record’s audio mix held the focus more on Richardson and company rather than on the audience. That meant no “crowd noise” was evident until each song’s end. Over the course of each song each instrument was expertly balanced with the others and with the various vocal lines. That means that even the tiniest nuance of each was balanced with the songs’ more prominent features to make each its own standout composition. There is no distraction from crowd noise for listeners. That balance of musical elements and ambient sound heightens the listening experience in whole for home audiences. This includes the experience of hearing the band’s performance and hearing the songs in both a live and studio setting all at once. Keeping all of this in mind this record proves, once again, to be one of the best of the year’s CD re-issues.
Rich Robinson’s newly re-issued Woodstock Sessions: Volume 3 is one of the year’s best new CD re-issues. This is in comparison to the year’s new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. One of the elements that makes the CD stand out so well is the band’s approach taken to the record. It is presented both as a live recording and a studio recording all in one. It gives audiences the experience of both a live show and the in-studio recording process all in one. The band’s performance of each of the album’s songs adds to that experience even more. The record’s audio mix rounds out the record’s presentation. Each element is, as already noted, important in its own way. Collectively they make the album one of the year’s best new CD re-issues. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other recordings from Rich Robinson is available online now at:
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