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A Busted Stuff Review

By Rob Theriaque
July 17, 2002

Well, first off, there is definitely a different feeling when one listens to this album for the first time. Itís surprisingly fresh, yet almost completely familiar. Itís raw, yet polished. This is the Dave Matthews Band at their studio best. Now, before we dethrone Before These Crowded Streets as the bandís best, let me clarify- this is the band at their best. Five guys, playing their hearts out for themselves, their families, and of course, their fans.

You donít have the feeling of newness with this album, but then again, only Everyday had a new feel to it. Every other album has had at least some road-tested material, or at the very least we heard the meat of the recording live before the studio album came out. This isnít an album to listen to for a fresh look at the band. This is an album to listen deeply and be absolutely knocked off your chair by musicianship.

Everyday didnít have musicianship. It was a thrown together, rushed, and overproduced album. Busted Stuff is the polar opposite- this album has depth, musically and lyrically. I donít need to review the entire album- each of you will have your own thoughts and feelings on each song, and you donít need me to tell you how you should feel about it. Instead, let me try to show you, in an example of one song, why this album may be the bandís best showing musically.

What song can I choose for this, other than ďYou Never Know?Ē

Lyrically, this song is a sledgehammer. The meanings will be different from person to person based on experience, but who doesnít have the mental image of being 4 years old in the back of their parents car, driving home late at night, staring up at the moon ďfollowingĒ the car? While 99% of the musicians in the world would call the lyrics to this song as their best ever, this isnít the songís strongest point.

You donít have to be a trained, or even casual, musician to know something special is happening in this song. Time changes abound- this in itself isnít as complicated, but putting it together in such a beautiful and seamless fashion is a challenge.

This band can do more with five instruments and a voice than some full symphonies. The sound is so rich, so deep and so beautifully practiced, yet not so predictable that it gets tedious. You can listen to the song repeatedly and find nuances and intricacies that arenít apparent on the first listen.

Pick an instrument and follow it through the song, beginning to end (this includes Daveís voice). Put everything else out of your mind and just be carried away by the talent on display.

These are the things that make this album special. Itís the five members of the band that have been there since the beginning, blazing their trails and finding their niches. This is what the band can do when they stay within themselves, yet challenge themselves to find new musical territory. This isnít like Everyday where the band found a new sound by breaking away from what made them who they are. Rather, this is the band finding new sounds based on who they are.

Before These Crowded Streets is a masterpiece, one very difficult to top. The two albums will duke it out in the top spot for me for a time to come, Iím sure, but why does one have to own that coveted spot? In my eyes, itís as different as Dave and Tim vs. DMB vs. DMB + friends. Busted Stuff is DMBís best album. Before These Crowded Streets is DMB and friendsí best album.

The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.


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