2000 Weiss Beers From Home

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For some reason, the Schramms are significantly more popular in Germany than they are in the United States, which means that their fans in Europe get to see them on tour with much greater frequency than those at home. Dave Schramm and his bandmates, however, have offered their stateside admirers an opportunity to hear them on-stage (if not see them) via 2000 Weiss Beers From Home, an "official bootleg" mastered from a board cassette of a small club show in Regensburg in 2000. The audio is surprisingly good considering the source, and the performance proves that the Germans obviously know something most of their American counterparts do not -- that the Schramms are one of the best rock bands currently extant in the Land of the Free. While the Schramms' studio albums tend to focus on the guitar heroics and superb songwriting of Dave, 2000 Weiss Beers From Home shifts more of the focus on their ensemble playing, including Ron Metz's precise and well-phrased drumming, Jon Graboff's tasteful secondary guitar, Al Greller's rock-sold bass, and Andrew Harris Burton's keyboards. The band plays with both fire and admirable economy, never drowning the songs in showboating and displaying a sure feel for the dynamics of the tunes and the interplay of their bandmates. And the set list is a veritable "Shramms Shoulda-Been-Hits" collection, featuring highlights from all five of their studio albums as well as a trio of well-chosen covers, leaving no doubt that this is an intelligent and inventive band who also know how to rock out when the occasion calls for it. (Besides, you have to like a guy who likes to say "Thanks a bunch" to his audience between songs.) If you're already a fan of the Schramms, 2000 Weiss Beers From Home is a welcome souvenir of their considerable on-stage prowess, and beginners will find this a splendid introduction to an underappreciated band's superb body of work, complete with great songs and some dazzling guitar work.

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