Widespread Panic

Live in the Classic City II, MM

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To celebrate the tenth anniversary of their now legendary (among spreadheads anyway) stand at the Classic Center in Athens, GA in April 2000, Widespread Panic released a second volume in their Live in the Classic City series. The first was a massive three-disc set, and featured guest spots by Col. Bruce Hampton and R.E.M.'s Bill Berry. Live in the Classic City II, MM is comprised of entirely different material, featuring 16 tracks taken from all over the band's catalog, including stellar performances of "Big Wooly Mammoth" and "Imitation Leather Shoes" from Don't Tell the Band, set opener "Travelin' Light" off the self-titled album, an excellent stretched-out cover of J.J. Cale's "Barrooms and Dreamers" from Space Wrangler, "Rebirtha" and "Greta" off Bombs & Butterflies, another version of live favorite "Disco," "Fishwater" from Ain't Life Grand, and much more. As evidenced by the first Live in the Classic City release, Widespread Panic are in crack shape, with everyone firing on all burners. John Bell is in fine voice, and he and Michael Houser's guitar interplay is in lockstep creativity mode. Likewise, John Hermann's keyboard playing is forceful but painterly, and the incendiary rhythm section -- bassist David Schools, drummer Todd Nance, and percussionist Domingo Ortiz -- is mixed right up top and funky. Also like the first collection, there are a number of guest appearances: R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, percussionist Arvin Scott, producer/guitarist John Keane, and vocalists Daniel Hutchens and Anne Richmond Boston all lend a hand. While Live in the Classic City still remains tops in the band's vast catalog of live recordings, Live in the Classic City II, MM is a fine extension for those who purchased it, and stands as a solid live recording in its own right.

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