The latest releases from Sheryl Crow help affirm something I’ve thought for a long time… that she is a “keeper of the flame” for the kind of rock and roll a lot of us grew up with. Her music is a nice mix of folk, country, pop, blues, and everything in between. But she doesn’t always get enough credit for songwriting. Her wordplay can be incredibly clever, like the guys we grew up with. Hits like “All I Wanna Do,” “Everyday is A Winding Road,” and “A Change Would Do You Good” all have great lines in them… lines you find yourself repeating constantly. And, on the CD release, you also get other great songs like “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Steve McQueen,” “Strong Enough,” and plenty more.
Put that together with a DVD that features 13 of her videos, and you’ve got a really nice package. The videos help you follow her career road from trippy hippie girl to… well, tough hippy girl.
The live DVD C’mon America 2003 was taped over two nights in Dayton, Ohio, and shows Crow to be a compelling performer with a great band. I’ve had occasion to see her in concert a couple of times, and this is a real nice representation of what she does. She’s friendly with the crowd, but not hokey. I will say she has changed her image a bit. When I saw her, sex was a secondary thing. Here, with numerous shots of her bare belly, sweaty chest, tight hiphugger jeans, and exhortations to the crowd of “One-two… shake your ass,” as she does the same, the sexual aspect is much stronger than in the early days of her career. But it doesn’t distract from the great songs.
All of Crow’s hits are here, along with a surprise or two, the biggest being a cover of “Rock and Roll” to finish off the night. It works just fine.
The band, with Peter Stroud playing wonderful guitar throughout, both slide and straight, is truly a fine working unit. Stroud is at home playing Leslie’d, Beatle-esque slide, as he is playing chunky rhythm and lead guitars. And it’s truly a joy to see and hear him work the Bigsby Palm Pedal on his G&L F-100, complete with slide. Stroud is one of those players who knows rock and roll inside out, and how to contribute to a tune. The rest of the band is fine too, especially drummer Shawn Pelton, who really drives the music.
I don’t think it farfetched to say Sheryl Crow has written some of the best pop-rock to come down the pike in the last 10 years. And these two sets are a nice way to take in a lot of it.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.