Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Live at the Fillmore

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Still slogging it out in the jam band asylum, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, like Blues Traveler, had that one uncharacteristic big hit ("Bittersweet") that gave them a taste of the big time, but didn't allow them to keep basking in its glory. That said, the band has a loyal following that's large enough to warrant it playing San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium . This live double-disc set is drawn from two evenings of performances at the fabled venue. The trio of Todd Park Mohr, Rob Squires, and Brian Nevin is augmented by keyboardist Jeremy Lawton, percussionist Gary Greene and backing vocalist Hazel Miller. Sonically this joint rules! It's loud, proud, and full of a righteous raw ambience. The material ranges from across the band's studio catalog but the majority of tracks are taken from the band's last album, Crimes of Passion, with six from Sister Sweetly -- among them "Bittersweet," and "Broken Hearted Savior." There are also cuts from Riviera and Beautiful World to round out the package. These performances are edgy, overdriven, and the true measure of what the Monsters are like as a live band. If they've been cleaned up, they don't feel like it, and the sheer raucousness of the presentation, even on the softer material, gives it a freshness and immediacy that is sorely lacking in other live albums. Recommended.

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