Garth Brooks recently unleashed the digitally remastered reissues of his entire cataloge, including the long out-of-print and hard-to-find “Double Live.”
“Double Live – 25th Anniversary Edition” features live recordings from Brooks’ 25 years of performing.
When first released in 1998, the album was available with seven different covers, each a photo from a different concert. The new re-release features the ninth cover, a photograph of Brooks performing at Toby Keith’s “Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert,” in 2013.
The album opens with “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” which serves as an energetic, lively opening song. The song, originally recorded on Brooks’ “In Pieces” album, was a hit song for The New Grass Revival, who also played on Brooks’ recording. Bela Fleck from The New Grass Revival joins Brooks on this live version.
“Two of a Kind, Workin’ On a Full House” comes next. The band’s in great form, and Brooks keeps the crowd going. Because of the physical performance Brooks is known for, there are several vocal flaws; however, this is not where the main problem is with this album.
Although it was a live recording, the audio could’ve been mixed better. “Two of a Kind, Workin’ On a Full House” is a perfect example of this. The mix is thin, especially the drums. The purpose of a live album is to feel like you’re really there at the show, and with the audio quality on this album, that’s hard to imagine.
“Shameless” sees Brooks playing it safe, focusing more on his vocals than his performance. Usually, Brooks works the crowd into a frenzy with this song, eventually yelling the lyrics; however, here, he calmly sings the song, and the crowd lightly applauds.
“Papa Loved Mama” is Brooks’ redemption. The mix is fair, the band’s on fire, his vocals are better, and the crowd is loving it. By the end of the song, the feel of being at the show comes back.
“The Thunder Rolls” is one of the highlights of the album, featuring the third verse, which is only used in live performances and wasn’t recorded on the studio version.
A few songs on the album, such as “The River” and “We Shall Be Free” begin with a studio recording of the song’s first verse. Brooks used this at times for live television specials, where it seems to work much better.
“Two Pina Coladas,” co-written by Arkansas’s own Shawn Camp, also features a studio recording of the first verse before slamming right into the live recording at the first chorus, making it one of the most enjoyable performances on the album.
Next, Brooks’ now better half, Trisha Yearwood, joins him for a duet called “Wild as the Wind,” which is a live exclusive not found on any of Brooks’ studio albums.
Strangely, the hit duet between Yearwood and Brooks, “In Another’s Eyes,” is missing from this album.
As the album winds down, fans will recognize that two crucial songs have yet to be included. The first of which, “Friends In Low Places,” the show-stopper from Brooks’ second release, “No Fences,” is what the audience came to hear. The audience becomes louder than Brooks, as they sing along word-for-word.
As Brooks said himself in the song, “What would a Garth live album be, without the live version of ‘Friends In Low Places?'” So, he delivers, with the legendary third verse. Once again, the audience screams every word at the top of their lungs.
Following tradition in Brooks’ live performances, “The Dance” is the closing song. Perhaps more important than the quality of the performance is the meaning of the song, and the individual meaning it has to each and every listener.
“Double Live – 25th Anniversary Edition” doesn’t completely satisfy expectations, but it’s far from a total disappointment. Up until now, this album was the only way of getting the live experience from Garth Brooks, but now with his comeback tour just beginning, there will be many more chances to catch that experience, the way it was meant to be.
“Double Live – 25th Anniversary Edition” is available in select stores and online retailers, with digital downloads being offered exclusively through www.garthbrooks.com.