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Modern Classic Rock, and Still Her Best.
on October 14, 2005
Some records catch magic like lightning in a bottle. There is a mood, a vibe to the album that goes beyond simply musicians gathering in a studio to record a bunch of songs. The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions is one such album. Tuesday Night Music Club is another. And 12 years after its release, Crow is a big star and this remains her best, quintessential record. If you see her live, these are still the songs that pull the most applause.
What makes this record so special? A clue lies buried in the title. Every Tuesday for about a year, Crow and a group of LA musicians-- notably including the late Kevin Gilbert, who was instrumental here, as well as David Baerwald-- would gather and play music and record. At some point this activity got directed into the making of Crow's debut. Indeed the process of making TNMC was more of a group effort than a solo one; Crow has the strongest supporting cast here she has ever had, before or since.
You will see below one reviewer state that this record is not representative of Crow's later work, and that is probably true; you will see another reviewer give much of the credit to Gilbert, and that too is probably fair (although make no mistake, this is a Sheryl Crow record).
But the bottom line is that a confluence of factors-- Crow's undeniable talents and taste, the mix of the players, the loose communal vibe, Gilbert's influence and pop songcraft-- combined to make a special record. If it is not representative of her later work, I would think that would be because the later work is generally not as strong. "Leaving Las Vegas," "Strong Enough," "Can't Cry Anymore," and "I Shall Believe" remain among her best, and best-loved, songs. "All I Wanna Do" gets a bum rap because it was so ubiquitous during the summer of 1994; but when I bought this album for the first time in 1993, that track was so good and immediately likable that it made my personal "Best of '93" cassette.
Crow said of these sessions that they were loose and collaberative; someone might have been given a writing credit if they'd brought a joint that night. I think her subsequent records, while all having a few standout tracks, are not as consistent or cogent as a whole as this one. I do agree that if you like this record you might be disappointed in the two that followed; lord knows I was. But none of that dims the crisp special vibe here, where you almost feel like you are eavesdropping on something special as it is created.
If you ask me, with Sheryl Crow it starts right here.