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The toughest part of putting Live from Across the Pond together involved choosing which tracks would make the cut. Robert Cray tackled this job meticulously, playing through all seven concerts and taking detailed notes. "I was listening for the best performances," he explains. "I listened for enthusiasm, if that's what was called for in the song. And I listened for things that stood out from the norm. One night, for example, we played "Our Last Time," and Jim Pugh, who normally plays piano on that one, decided to do it on organ. I went with that version not only because it sounded great but also because it was so uncommon."
Cray's band rocks and wails and plunges way down to the bottom of the blues well on track after track. And as for Pugh's solo organ showcase in the midst of "The One in the Middle"? Let's say that unless you're going to a sanctified church every Sunday, it's been a while since you've heard anything like this.
Robert CrayFor thirty-plus years Robert Cray has laid down track after track of good-time, uptown, low-down blues. He's won five Grammys and been nominated for 11 more, inspired critics to praise his soulful vocal and instrumental artistry, earned respect from his peers, and sent young guitarists running back to the woodshed.What he hasn't done is work this magic on a full-length concert CD, where the fires that drive him onstage burn on disc as well.Not, that is, until now.On The Robert Cray Band: Live from Across the Pond, the first release on Cray's own Nozzle Records imprint, the celebrated triple-threat singer, guitar slinger, and songwriter presents the best moments from his week-long run at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 2006, opening for friend and mutual admirer Eric Clapton.From classic titles ("Phone Booth") to highlights from his latest releases ("Poor Johnny"), whether addressing timeless themes of heartache and romance ("The Things You Do to Me") or this morning's headlines ("Twenty"), Cray delivers on a promise he's been making since his first trip into the studio.That promise to record himself and his band when inspired by their fans at the instant of performance pays off on Live.And it pays double, by the way, on two CDs, each packed with about as much intense, emotional playing as a listener can handle in one sitting all of it a pristine reproduction of what transpired under the spotlights, without a single edit or punch-in.Once the rush of Live begins to settle down, though, it's natural to wonder why Cray took this long to document his stage chops. Ask him, and his answer is disarmingly candid."In the past, whenever we've known that we were going to record ourselves onstage, we've just gotten too psyched up to sound as strong as we normally do," he says. "You go into it feeling like you've got this one shot, and that can be challenging. I've actually lost my voice from the anticipation."
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