Deep Cuts: Dave Matthews Band

“If your exposure to the Dave Matthews Band consists of the 40,000 times your girlfriend forces you to listen to “Satellite,” you probably can’t stand them. That’s fine. But if you’ve gone to one DMB show, you know that Dave is anything but some lone crooner softly singing sweet nothings.

Dave’s a man possessed on stage. Every photograph of Dave in front of a microphone shows him either coiled like a snake at the ready, or the moment immediately after, where he’s literally attacking it, leaning into the crowd like a thrill seeker on a beach in a hurricane leaning into the wind, almost held upright by the energy of the crowd which leans in equal dependence forward onto him. He is an aggressive front man, shouting out his music as if to shout harder would kill him.

It’s in that spirit that Deep Cuts DMB features a lot of live recordings. There are some studio cuts…most notably from 2002’s Busted Stuff, regularly cited as DMB’s best studio album. But to appreciate DMB, you must listen to them live, on stage, creating an incredible place that is, to paraphrase Dave, “better than this” to find “the best of what’s around.”

Founded in 1991 in Charlottesville, VA, DMB takes its spiritual lead from Dave, born in South Africa, a musical influence evident throughout the music. The best musician in the band, by far, is drummer Carter Beauford, who is regularly named as one of the greatest drummers who have ever lived. A musician friend of mine, asked to compare Carter to guys like John Bonham, Keith Moon or Stewart Copeland, once said that Carter is capable of executing riffs that none of those guys ever even attempted. At one show, I watched in amazement as he blasted out a solo more complicated than I could imagine, all the while smiling like this was the most fun he’d ever had…oh, and he was also chewing on bubble gum, and blowing bubbles. With violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard, keyboardist Peter Griesar, and saxman Leroi Moore, DMB creates a unique sound as identifiable as any rock band of our time.

So here are my DMB Deep Cuts. Be prepared: if you put all this on one CD (it’ll probably require two), you may be listening to it for months.

“Don’t Drink the Water” – Concert at Central Park
DMB often starts shows with this rocker, and you can hear the awe in Dave’s voice at seeing Central Park filled with humanity as far as the eye can see. His vocals are a tour de force.

“#41” / “Say Goodbye” – Crash
Two studio cuts to give you a breather after listening to “Don’t Drink the Water.” Rarely performed together on stage, but they work together incredibly well on Crash.

“You Never Know” – Busted Stuff
Not often played live. If you’re feeling down, listen to this cut. You’ll feel better. Dave has a way of making you feel better.”

Take a look at the rest of Tim Russo’s DMB Deep Cuts along with his Dave Matthews Band profile.


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