Any Time Now
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2002, Volume 9, #7
Written by T.J. Simon
Fans will tell you that O.A.R. ("Of A Revolution") is a band that needs to be experienced live in concert for maximum impact, and Any Time Now ó the bandís latest double-live disc ó puts that assertion to the test. Recorded over a multiple-night stand at Washington D.C.ís famous 9:30 Club, itís hard to dispute that the musicians of O.A.R. are at the top of their game. The publicity machine behind O.A.R. describes the groupís music as "Island-Vibe Roots Rock," and that seems to be just about right. Indeed, the music is jam-based rock with a touch of ska, and a heaping helping of white-boy reggae. As a result, there are moments when O.A.R. recalls the sound of The Dave Matthews Band, and at other times, the influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers seeps through the bandís high-energy sound.
Risen, O.A.R.ís excellent 2001 studio album, serves as the source for six of the seventeen tracks on Any Time Now, including Hey Girl and Delicate Few. Yet, for some reason, Risenís strongest tune (If Only She Knew) didnít make the cut on this live release. The rest of the package draws from O.A.R.ís early do-it-yourself releases Wanderer and Souls Aflame as well as a few yet-to-be-recorded originals. But, the special treat is a version of O.A.R.ís Night Shift that segues into Bob Marleyís Stir It Up with help from The Wailersí lead guitarist Junior Marvin.
For what itís worth, the rich voice of singer, guitarist, and O.A.R. founder Marc Roberge actually works better on the live recording then it did on Risen. Likewise, Chris Culos on drums and Jerry DePizzo on sax have an opportunity to shine through on the extended live renditions. That said, if any complaint can be levied against Any Time Now, itís that each song tends to drag a bit before coming to its proper end. Part of the successful jam band formula is to release catchy three-to-four minute songs on the studio albums and save the inflated versions for the live shows. O.A.R. took this to heart, and as a result, most of the songs on this double-disc set are north of the six-minute mark. This probably works quite well if you are an enthusiastic listener bopping around the concert hall, but fans sitting in their living room or stuck in traffic will probably be a bit burned out by the time O.A.R. launches into That Was a Crazy Game of Poker ó which itself clocks in at nearly thirteen minutes. Simply put, this is far too long a time frame for a band to spend on any single tune without significantly adding to its initial statement. To be fair, however, this is where most jam bands get bogged down, and at least O.A.R. has an actual song upon which its jams are based.
O.A.R.ís grass-roots success is certainly spreading like a virus across the U.S., largely due to the bandís relentless touring and a genuine respect for its adoring fan base. Expect the groupís popularity to continue to grow as it plays a series of dates this summer with Sheryl Crow, Train, and Ziggy Marley. In the meantime, hereís the buyerís guide: if youíve never heard O.A.R., start with the strong studio album Risen, and if you find yourself saying, "These songs are good, but I wish they were twice as long," then rush out and buy Any Time Now.
Any Time Now is also available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box