Live in the Classic City
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|Audio CD, Live, June 11, 2002||
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Those relentless road warriors Widespread Panic have brought the fruits of their 18 years of tireless labors to bear in their third live album, Live in the Classic City. Recorded in 2000 over a three-night stand in their hometown of Athens, Georgia--which proudly bears the moniker of Classic City--this thinking-man's jam band provides something for everybody as they move through a funky R&B groove and pay obeisance to the existential jazz of Sun Ra's search for the "outer nothingness" before coming back to earth to worship at the altar of their classic-rock forebears and evoking the restless spirits of the Doors, the gravity of Deep Purple, and the whimsy of the midcareer Who, all channeled through John Bell's shape-shifting voice. But Bell's voice isn't the only thing that transmogrifies through the 27 tracks collected here; these sons of Georgia not only drink deeply from the rock canon, they also conjure the same majesty that inflamed the Allman Brothers, locating a similar loose-limbed groove that makes all their guitar pyrotechnics, deep percussions, and inspired keyboard fills seem effortless, as if guided by a collective ESP. It's a grand representation of one of the most exciting live bands working today. Special guests include former R.E.M. skinbeater Bill Berry, Rolling Stones' keyboardist Chuck Leavell, Randall Bramlett, and the Allman Brothers' Derek Trucks. --Jaan Uhelszki