The 1998 Live Album 'Spyboy Live at the Exit In' is surely one of the great live recordings. Capturing as it does Emmylou Harris after her Post-Lanois conversion it showcases a great artist backed by a minimalist Supergroup in full cry. The song choice is a career retrospective and the band of Buddy Miller, Brady Blade and Daryl Johnson tackle the roots country material of Emylou's earlier albums with the same sublime aplomb that they bring to the brand new, more ambient material. There is virtuosity in abundance but never self- indulgence and the album has a freshness and energy that few other live recordings can match.
Move forward two years and Harris has released another album' Red Dirt Girl' this time produced by long time Lanois disciple Malcolm Burn. The sought after Johnson has gone to be replaced by Tony Hall and the band are captured here for German TV in what can only be described as fantastic fettle. Red Dirt Girl carries many self- penned compositions and the selection featured here spells out just how Harris has moved on as a songwriter. Miller and Blade are great foils but whilst the musical synergies they weave are complex and intergrated to the nth degre, they are never flash for the sake of it. If a singer has ever had a more sympathetic backing band then I have not heard it.
And there is no awkwardness in the running order that would indicate the set list is from different eras; true some of the songs have more traditional country treatment but songs like 'The Pearl' and 'Michaelengelo' from RDG are comfortable bedfellows.
Miller has become a Superstar of Americana largely thanks to his collaborations with Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant's Band of Joy but as a long time follower I have never heard him better than he is here; the man is very special indeed and his singing alone lights up this recording even before his stunning guitar flourishes.
The sound of this CD is also very live and there is an openness and lack of density that makes you feel like you are there in the room. Perhaps it is a lack of compression in the mix but there is a transparency that is not often found on live recording that makes every instrument clear throughout and the result is thrillingly dynamic.
This is even better than the Exit In and therefore very very good indeed.
I bought this because I love the Spyboy album, and because of a review here which raved about it and gave it 5 stars. It's good, yes, even very good, but if I had to choose I'd choose the Spyboy album over this. The track selection here is wider ranging, but not all the tracks sit comfortably with the trio arrangement, whereas on Spyboy the material was taken almost exclusively from the Lanois/Burn sessions, which were arranged and recorded with just such a trio. This would be pretty high up on my list of Emmy albums, but not the genre-buster I had hoped it would be. However, at the price, a recommended purchase, and I'm certainly glad to own it.
This is a very solid live album from Emmy's unfortunately short-lived Spyboy period. Apart from a brief revisiting of her catalogue at the time of Wrecking Ball and the later Red Dirt Girl most of my EH collection dates back to her 70s heyday. I got into Buddy Miller a few years back (see other reviews)and when I heard about their collaboration I was drawn to reigniting my interest in Emmy. I haven't been able to access the previous Spyboy album although have heard great things about it. Unfortunately this isn't quite the album I'd hoped for-no clunkers, nearly half of it is from Red Dirt Girl-Buddy and the rest of the band are fine-although there is a rather distant (stadium) feel to a lot of it and it doesn't come alive until Buddy is brought forward for a stunning duet on "love hurts"-there is a similar shiver up the spine to 'Boy from Tupelo'-the audience are a bit muted-no laughs at all when Emmy quotes Towne van Zandt's about there being two kinds of music-The blues and Zippy de do da-while this is certainly closer to the former its not quite the stunner I'd hoped-still easy 4 stars.
Although I prefer her purer folk/country music to the rock-a-billy style, this album has a lot going for it. There's enough of both types of song to keep everyone happy. Being recorded live adds an extra dimension that studio albums lack. Another bunch of tunes sung from the heart - an excellent performance. Look forward to her next UK tour.
I'd rate this right behind Spyboy live at the EXit Inn.Exit is a bit rare now , but worth searching out.I'd also recommend both of these in the DVD version.Exit Inn is very pricy but this one is reasonableon DVD. Get it quickly it will soon be out of print.
An absolutely stunning live CD that captures Emmylou and Spyboy in concert. Emmy and her band work wonderfully together, their stellar musicianship is breathtaking; Emmy's vocals simply achingly beautiful. Already one of my all-time faves.