The Michael Landau Group Live (2 CD)
The opening track is a blistering version of Worried Life Blues. Landau always sounds great is these hard blues settings, and he doesn’t disappoint here. His solo is a mixture of wicked blues licks, and Landau’s trademark herky-jerky phrasing. Another performance that really stands out is Born in the Rain, which also appeared on the Live 2000 album. Here Landau plays a real trippy solo with lots of horror movie-sounding tremolo picked motifs. Very intense performance.
Disc 2 is where we hear Landau’s jazzier writing and playing. The Mighty SB is practically a straight-ahead tune, with Landau reeling in his wild-bluesy side in favor of a more introspective, flowing approach. The vocal ballad Widow is another disc 2 highlight. In general, the writing on these jazz tunes is very hip and sophisticated. It’s a side of Landau we don’t see too often. Great stuff.
Two of my personal favorite Landau vocal tunes are included in this release as well – Good Friend (originally recorded on Landau’s The Star Spangled Banner album), and Underwear (originally recorded on the Raging Honkies album Boner). Good Friend is pretty faithful to the original, though it’s stretched out and includes a nice keyboard solo from Kinsey. Underwear, on the other hand, is played with a totally different groove than the original studio version. Here’s it’s done with a laid back half-time feel, whereas the studio version had a fast, driving groove. Another Raging Honkies song, Why U Lie, received the same dialed-down treatment (with less effective results) on the Live 2000 album.
If you’re not familiar with Michael Landau, and you want to see what all the fuss is about, this is the album to get. It really shows off all the facets of his musicianship. Great playing and writing, awesome guitar tones, and his vocals are very strong. The Live 2000 album is very worthwhile as well, but I think Landau has topped that live collection with this one.