They didn't mean to make an album. Honest. That's the song Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson sang to RollingStone.com in October when he discussed his band's string of live dates with Led Zeppelin last fall. "It's just about getting together and playing," he said at the time. "It's not like we have a live album coming and a VH1 special."
The song, as it turns out, did not remain the same. While there's no word yet on a VH1 special, Robinson joined his brother Chris and Page in New York Tuesday to announce the release of Live at the Greek
, a double live album available exclusively through MusicMaker.com. Fans can purchase the entire, nineteen-track double album on the site, or assemble their own custom disc by selecting only the songs they want, in the order of their choosing.
According to Page, who looked as much like a proud parent as a co-band member when he wrapped his arms around the Robinsons' shoulders for photos, the decision to record their collaboration came around the time of their three-night stand in New York.
"We played at the Roseland, and the place was electrified," said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. "We decided, we have
to record this, because otherwise it would just be lost." All of the songs on the album were captured on their second night playing at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, the last night of the tour.
"We didn't really expect to make a record," admitted Chris Robinson. "We didn't know what to expect. But it is there, and the new technology is just another tool. We made a very human record."
Page described the evolution of the album as "a very organic process." So organic, according to Crowes manager Pete Angelus, that the project would have been inconceivable had they gone with a traditional record label rather than MusicMaker. "It only started a couple of months ago," he said. "This moved so quickly [that] had we been doing this on a major label and gone down the road of major-label distribution, we wouldn't be sitting here today talking about this record at this point in time, because we would have been talking about it for five or six months just trying to set up the production. The Internet and MusicMaker have afforded us the immediacy to get this music to the fans the way the artists would like to get it to them."
In conjunction with the release of the album, "Oh Well," a cover of the vintage Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac song, is currently available as a free download on Myplay.com, while "What Is and What Should Never Be" has been released to radio as a single.
Although the six shows Page played with the Black Crowes last year all featured a few of the Atlanta band's own songs in the mix, the resulting live album contains only classic Led Zeppelin material and handful of blues covers: "Heartbreaker," "In My Time of Dying," "What Is and What Should Never Be," "Custard Pie," "Celebration Day," "Out on the Tiles," "Whole Lotta Love," "Nobody's Fault But Mine," "You Shook Me," "Lemon Song," "Your Time Is Gonna Come," "Ten Years Gone," "Sick Again," "Hey Hey What Can I Do," "Shake Your Money Maker," "Woke Up This Morning," "Shape of Things to Come," "Sloppy Drunk" and "Oh Well."
According to Angelus, the lack of Crowes originals stems from a standard contract clause that prevents artists from re-cutting songs for a new label within two years of recording them (the band remains signed to Columbia Records).
Angelus said that the partnership with MusicMaker may only be just beginning, hinting at a possible Page/Crowes tour this summer, from which additional music would be made available on the Internet. But Page's manager Bill Curbishley was quick to stress that the recent reports of Page and the Crowes touring with the Who (whom he also represents) were premature.
Written by RICHARD SKANSE for RollingStone.com News