Counting Crows

Across a Wire: Live in New York

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It certainly says something about the state of the music industry in the '90s when it has become a common occurrence for bands to release live albums after only two albums of original material. On one hand, it's indicative of how the labels have to fight the proliferation of high-quality live CD bootlegs. On the other, it illustrates that the labels have a difficult time receiving new product from their major bands. And that makes the Counting Crows' double-disc set Across a Wire: Live in New York both welcome and odd. Certainly, all of the group's hardcore fans will delight in having two complete live shows on one specially priced double-disc set, but skeptics can't help but wonder if a double-live set is necessary. Actually, Across a Wire may be necessary if you are a dedicated fan, simply because it showcases the group's versatility in a way that neither of their albums have. Although those two records were eclectic, accomplished recordings, these live shows find Counting Crows rearranging familiar tunes and performing cohesive conceptual concerts. The first disc consists of their performance for VH1's Storytellers, the second of MTV Live from the 10 Spot. They share some songs, such as "Angels of the Silences" and "Rain King," yet the versions themselves are different, fitting neatly into the concerts themselves. The end result is two fascinating, entertaining concerts in one package -- a small blessing for the committed, even if it won't be of much interest to the unconverted.

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