Sixteen Horsepower - Live: March 2001
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Sixteen Horsepower
Live: March 2001

For singing songs that oftentimes dive into fire-and-brimstone style preachings, David Eugene Edwards sure seems to be a nice fella. After just about every single song on Live: March 2001, he can be found saying a polite "thank you" to the overzealous audience, and he often seems quite taken aback by the amount and length of applause. Obviously given the date, this is a release that was recorded almost halfway through the career of the group (who have since disbanded), just a year or so after their Secret South release and a year or so previous to Folklore.

Spilling out over two CDs, this eighteen song set has apparently long been one of the favorites of the group, and it's easy to hear why. The recording quality is great, and the group is obviously on, capturing just about every song with an energy that often surpasses the studio versions of the songs themselves. Setting the tone from the first song, "American Wheeze" drops a deep bass with a repeating accordion and painterly guitar lines while slowly building to a more stirring finale. "I Seen What I Saw" only picks up the pace, and from there the group weaves through songs from Secret South, Low Estate, Sackcloth 'n' Ashes, and their self-titled EP.

It's a good mixture of material, too, with plenty of blistering tracks where the group brings some fury (most notably "Naw" and "24 Hours"), but they also show off their more spectral (and somewhat spooky) side with songs like "Burning Bush" and "Silver Saddle." In fact, the second disc in general favors the quieter, more introspective (but still somewhat troubled-sounding) work of the group, providing more of a breather before closing out things with two rocking rumblers in "Coal Black Horses" and "Dead Run." Clocking in at just about ninety minutes in total running length, it's probably true that Live: March 2001 is more for serious fans of the group, but if you're one of those people who wished you could have seen the group perform live but never got around to it, this 2CD set definitely captures them at a high point.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-07-24 21:26:29