Music » CD Reviews

The Schwartz Bros.

Live in North Collinwood (North Coast Bootlegs)

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Something about playing on his home turf brings out the best in guitarist Glenn Schwartz, and this bootleg tape has it all -- screaming solos, religious raving, and guitar trips to the outer edge of the cosmos. Schwartz's cover of the bluegrass standard "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" as well as other blues standards showcases his astonishing range and versatility, demonstrating once again that, when Schwartz feels like playing, he can keep up with any electric blues guitarist alive -- or dead. Cascades of Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter come slashing out of the speakers, red hot despite the poor audio quality. After one particularly inspired solo, a female fan grabs the mic to proclaim Schwartz "the greatest fucking guitarist." Anyone who's seen his Thursday night shows at Major Hoopples knows that Schwartz has a tendency to preach mid-concert and often makes the women in the crowd particular targets, and he really goes off here. "Let the female learn in silence!" he thunders.

Even scarier is "Judgment Day," his homage to the 172 children who died in the 1908 Collinwood School fire. "My name is death/None can excel/Open the doors to hell," he intones, and as the flames and fear build in the music, he switches to a helpless victim's voice: "I don't want to die/I don't want to go to hell." If that doesn't give you the creeps, Schwartz even damns the audience at one point, condemning a heckler to "everlasting shame and contempt." Schwartz is God's avenging guitar angel, and for the lucky few who can find it, the full spectrum of his genius and insanity is finally preserved and revealed.

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