On August 3, 2010, the Black Crowes released their ninth studio album, an all-acoustic compilation record consisting of songs from their first six albums. They also went on their "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys" tour, a double 90-minute acoustic/electric set extravaganza to celebrate the release of 'Croweology'. During their (at the time) farewell tour, they played a series of shows in New York City, and it was those shows that make up the 26 songs found here on 'Wiser for the Time'.
The Black Crowes are among my all-time favorite bands, and they share a very special honor in that I far prefer their live output over that of their studio ventures. Sure, I have the staple greatest hits album, 'A Tribute to a Work in Progress...', but I rarely ever listen to it. It's records like 'Live', 'Freak 'n' Roll...Into the Fog', 'Warpaint Live' (which is far better than the studio record), and 'Wiser for the Time' that I find myself playing far more often. Like their contemporaries the Grateful Dead (the Crowes have accompanied both Phil Lesh & Friends as well as Bob Weir on numerous occasions), there's a level of dynamic energy that just can't be captured in a recording studio. Whether it's something funny or witty that Chris says to the crowd or an extended solo by Rich and whomever's accompanying him, it's on the stage where the Crowes really stretch their wings and take flight.
In terms of personal preference, 'Freak 'n' Roll...Into the Fog' is my favorite live Black Crowes album, bar none. Nothing beats those recordings of "Soul Singing," "My Morning Song," and "Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz." My second favorite would have to be 'Wiser for the Time' with its acoustic openers and electric finishers as well as its under-the-radar cover songs like "Hot Burrito #s 1 & 2" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You." I do find, though, with 'Wiser for the Time' that the acoustic set actually stretches into Disc 2's "Soul Singing" and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"; the electric set doesn't actually begin until "Exit." So, even though there are 26 track on the album, you get 15 acoustic songs and 12 electric songs (since "My Morning Song/Stare It Cold" is technically a two-song medley) and makes for one heck of a live album to add to your collection.
Of course, for the casual fans, the hits are here: the acoustic set has "Downtown Money Waster," "Jealous Again," and "Soul Singing," while the electric set has "My Morning Song" and "She Talks to Angels." Surprisingly, missing from this album is the Otis Redding cover "Hard to Handle," which helped make the Crowes famous; but, if you dig into their live catalog (you can actually purchase just about every concert they've ever playing through their website), taking the hits on the road has never really been their thing. Instead, the Crowes play the songs they want to play, and their set list changes all the time. Perhaps that's why their considered the "bad guys": they do what they want!