As you know if you visit my site, one of my favorite bands is Needtobreathe. I have everything they have put out on vinyl and now I am going after everything they have released on CD (that they don’t have on vinyl). And the CDs I want the most are the exclusive fan club CDs they release each year.
If you join the Needtobreathe Insiders fan club (for $70 a year), you get a Live CD of tracks collected from the band’s live performances throughout their career (among other things such as a Needtobreathe Mug, a key chain and a free live track download ever month – that is 12 more songs or maybe the same tracks that will be on the CD, not sure yet on that). Needtobreathe actually records every show they put on so they have a ton of tunes to choose from. They have released 6 volumes and number 7 will be coming in December which I will get as I have now joined the club. I had never joined prior so getting my hands on these has not been easy as it is not cheap. I am looking for the right price and most of the time it is too high. I finally grabbed my first one at a price less than the membership fee which was Insiders LP Vol. 2 for $40 and 9 months later I got one even cheaper which was Vol. 5 and it was only $25. And then a couple days later got another for $27 which is this one Vol. 3. Sorry we aren’t going in order, but we are going in order of when I receive them.
Who is Needtobreathe you may ask and I will tell you. Needtobreathe is a rock band from South Carolina who mixes rock, folk, southern rock, country and whatever else they like all with a great message or story to tell. Currently the band is…
- Bear Rinehart – lead vocals, guitar
- Josh Lovelace – Hammond Organ, piano
- Seth Bolt – bass, mandolin, percussion
All of these recordings would’ve had Bo Rinehart who has recently left the band and most will have touring drummer, Randall Harris or former drummer Joe Stillwell.
This set is a collection is another 14 live tracks from shows around the U.S., the Caribbean and Jerusalem in Isreal and let me tell you it is yet another fantastic Insider CD. The band spends some time with these and the production quality is amazing. They put as much time in to them as they would a normal studio album or live album release to the general public. The mix is done so the songs blend in with each other perfectly and it feels like a complete show although they are from different shows, different years and different band members in some cases.
The album kicks off with three straight songs from their most recent album at the time of this release, ‘Hard Love’. The three songs were total high energy, pop and rock songs. The songs were “Happiness”, “Money & Fame” and one of my favorites “Great Night”. And all three songs feature Welshly Arms who are a blues rock band out of Cleveland and who I know nothing about. And then we get the first real treat of the album which is an Encore Solo Medley by Bear Rinehart. The medley consists of bits of the songs “Be Here Long”, “Daylight”, “Tyrant Kings”, “Something Beautiful”. What is great about it is you get a song from the first album with “Daylight” and they rarely play the first album and you also get “Tyrant Kings” which is another that they don’t play very often.
The second big treat is “Rapture & the Roses”. First, when I saw treat, I am meaning is something unique or rarely played or a song I don’t have in any format from them such as a cover. I know absolutely nothing about this song “Rapture & the Roses”. There is nothing on the internet other than Needtobreathe performing it and this song is not any of their albums. It isn’t a cover so it must be a rare, unreleased track of theirs that they pulled out for a show. If you know this song, let me know about it in the comments below. It is really cool to get something so rare.
The next song is standard fare with “Hurricane” and it is a solid performance but nothing extra special other than just as good live as they are on the studio tracks. If not even with a little more punch. “Won’t Turn Back” brings us something different with Bo Rinehart on vocals which he doesn’t normally sing. Really cool to have this version and it is from a Cruise show in the Caribbean. The next track is another of my favorite songs called “Testify”. It also features Welshly Arms and “Testify” is one of those take you to church-type songs. You feel the energy flowing and you feel like this could be sung during worship at church. I can see the whole crowd really getting in to this song.
Then we get one of the best songs they have ever written with “Difference Maker”. I’m not saying it is my favorite song, only that I don’t know if they’ll ever write a song as good as this one again. The version here is acoustic and it is nothing short of amazing, stunning, beautiful and inspirational. Such a powerful message and Bear sings his heart out. A song that must be heard. Then we get the first misstep of any of the albums. It is the song “Money & Fame” that has already been played on this album, but it is this version that felt lacking. It is an acoustic version and I didn’t really feel this version. It is not one that really lends itself to the acoustic performance.
The next treat is the song “Shine On”. The song is not one, but two songs with the title “Shine On”. The first is a cover of a song I do not know and there is nothing in the credits that tell me what it is and the last half of the song is the band’s song with the same title. It is such a cool song and to blend them together works wonderfully. One of the more fun songs on the album. Then we get another acoustic performance and this one is the song “Wasteland” which is another stellar performance.
Then we get the final two songs that are both been played on this disc but there is something a little special about both. First is “Happiness” which kicked off the album. This performance is really cool because it is from the Grand Ole Opry. How many bands can say they’ve played there? Ok, a lot but it is still cool! The second one is even more special. This is the song “Difference Maker” we talked about earlier, but this version is really just Bear singing and a guitar in some domed arena or church without a microphone and his voice echos so beautifully off the ceiling. The band performed this in Jerusalem, Israel. It is really powerful especially knowing the message and the religious place they are in. Wow!
I will tell you right now, there is no score going to be given for this as this is something I can’t remove my bias from, but let me tell you it is utterly amazing and why I am trying hard to get these special releases by the band. I now have 3 plus the 2020 version that I should get in December or January will be 4. Only 3 more to find! All I can say is, if you are a fan of Needtobreathe, these are must haves and let me tell you the band knows what their fans want and they deliver it!