Poor Adam Duritz: Looks like the pseudo-dreadlocked Counting Crows leader is in desperate need of getting dumped again. That’s the only conceivable explanation for why the San Francisco band has opted to release a completely unnecessary two-CD live album, Across a Wire: Live in New York, instead of heading into the studio to conjure up a third legitimate album. After the band’s 1993 debut, August and Everything After, grew into a gangbusters success both critically and commercially, Duritz was rattled by a devastating loss for words. But then his longtime girlfriend sent him packing—pay no mind to the fact that he soon started dating two-thirds of the female cast of Friends—and in the doom and gloom of heartache, the sorry bastard found the inspiration for 1996’s bloated sophomore effort, Recovering the Satellites. Here, during an acoustic VH1: Storytellers set and an electric Live From the 10 Spot performance, Duritz & Co. are in a strangely upbeat mood—never a good sign for this band—extending many of the numbers into jam-friendly epics. (By the way, no new material is played live, not even a cover. In fact, four songs yawningly appear on both discs.) Some of the new arrangements work quite well: A frenetic “A Murder of One,” fueled by David Bryson’s wah-wah guitar, taps into the underlying energy of the original, and a whispered “Have You Seen Me Lately?” actually makes you believe Duritz suffers for his art. But too often during the 122-plus minutes of music, the lead singer gets lost in verbal masturbation, referencing his own songs within his own songs (enough with the “Goodnight Elizabeth” sample already) until you’re completely lost and noticeably bored. Across a Wire’s best cut is an untitled hidden track (at the end of the first disc) that’s a trumpet-framed weeper about the inherent loneliness of the Big Apple. Unfortunately, that shiny studio nugget will have to sate true Crows fans until Duritz gets lonesome again.—Sean Daly

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