If you’ve ever seen Blackberry Smoke, you know just how entertaining the band can be live. It’s not surprising that Blackberry Smoke released a live album. After all, the band released a live album only five years ago. However, for a band with a presence like Blackberry Smoke, live albums will always be in fashion. The band shows just that on the new album Homecoming: Live in Atlanta.
This album begins with “Nobody Gives a Damn” and the first thing you notice is the raucous response the band receives when it takes the stage. It makes you feel like you were front and center for the show where this was recorded. On top of that, you notice that the recording quality is pretty true. It was recorded in a way that you feel the full effect of both the band’s sound as well as the response from the crowd. The crowd was predictably enthusiastic hearing favorites like “Pretty Little Lie”. The crowd is particularly enthusiastic for “I Ain’t Got the Blues” where it takes over for the chorus without any guidance from Charlie Starr. It’s particularly impressive because the crowd delivers the lyrics in unison right in rhythm of the song. It’s almost like an impromptu church choir.
When you look at the track list of the album, one song stands out. “Sleeping Dogs” comes in at nearly 14 minutes, which is not unusual for a jam band, but generally isn’t operating procedure for Blackberry Smoke. Part of the reason for that duration is an intro that lasts for two minutes. The middle of the song a groovy instrumental interlude, which bleeds into a rendition of “Come Together” before a return to the lyrics of “Sleeping Dogs” at the end. From the reaction of the crowd, it seems fair to say that no one was really bothered by this foray into jam-band territory.
Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown was invited to join the band for “Not Fade Away”. Of course the song title is familiar – made famous by Buddy Holly and The Rolling Stones. However, this version is quite a bit different. The song begins with a bit of a guitar duel with a heavy Allman Brothers vibe. Then comes the beat, which is the familiar part of this version of the song. The combination of the groove and the beat makes this an irresistible cover of a song that you’ve probably heard countless times. Not to mention that it makes you wish that The Allman Brothers and Bo Diddley had collaborated.
“Ain’t Much Left of Me” is the last song on the album, and it provides some interest too – mostly because it is such an agglomeration. The intro is a soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace”. After that mellow intro, the first verse is fairly raucous with guitars and a beat that you can feel wherever you’re listening. In the middle, the band launches into a chorus of “Three Little Birds” before returning to the volume and lyrics of “Ain’t Much Left of Me”. That of course is followed my a great deal of applause as the band left the stage.
This is everything a live album should be. It is an accurate portrayal of the band’s live show. For those who have seen the band live, it is a good reminder of just how powerful Blackberry Smoke is live. for those who haven’t yet seen Blackberry Smoke, this album is an accurate representation of what to expect. Homecoming: Live in Atlanta was released on November 22. Order your collection here.