Dave Matthews Band
Before These Crowded Streets



by EVedder27 USER (107 Reviews)
November 9th, 2009 | 24 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This collection of songs is the closest Dave Matthews Band has come to classic, and will probably ever come to classic.

It is a common misconception among non-Dave Matthews Band fans that the band’s songs are constantly cheerful and uplifting. The band’s third full-length record, “Before These Crowded Streets” begs to differ. This 1998 release is Dave Matthews Band’s darkest and best record to date, featuring some of their strongest songwriting and instrumentation. This album served as an outstanding follow-up to excellent debut “Under the Table and Dreaming” and superb sophomore release “Crash.” Each of these records contributed to the band’s success, along with their massive popularity in touring. The band has an incredibly original sound, complete with top notch drumming, slinky bass lines, powerful vocals, soaring violins, and soothing saxophones. “Before These Crowded Streets” expanded on this sound, incorporating elements of anger, sex, and fear into an ultimately outstanding record.

To say this record is dark does not merely suggest that it is not diverse. Single Stay (Wasting Time) is hopeful, poppy, and bright. Although the track is potentially the weakest on the record, it provides relief from the obscurity of the record. Rapunzel plays along these lines as well, although to a lesser extent. This song is a typical Dave Matthews Band sex song; catchy and fun. The musical breakdown of [i]Rapunzel[i] however, gives off a very mystifying vibe with Dave singing, “I think the world of you, with all of my heart I do. Blood through my veins for you, you alone have all of me.” When the final notes of Rapunzel fade out, the listener is relieved of the bounciness and introduced to something entirely different. The Last Stop suggests that Dave isn’t happy. In fact he pissed. The track takes advantage of a mysterious introduction, driven by violin, saxophone, and bass. The music is Arab-influenced and Dave lyrics are angst-driven; “Fire grows from the east, how is this, hate so deep, lead us all so blindly killing, killing.” His vocals are powerful and he utilizes his growl-like yell with “Hope that we can break it down, so it’s not so black and white. You’re righteous, you’re righteous, you’re righteous, you’re always so right.” Halloween is subject to the same rage as The Last Stop, and is arguably the band’s most livid song to date. The atmosphere of the track is creepy as the title proposes, violins and bass creating a haunting feel. Halloween was written for an ex-girlfriend of Dave; a relationship that apparently did not end well. The growl-like yell appears here again, fuming as ever. Dave is screaming by the end of the track, “Don’t walk away, don’t walk away, I’m talking to you. Love is hell, love is hell.”

The haunting environment of the album doesn’t let up with the gem of a track The Stone, which is one of the most intricately written songs of the band’s career. While the verses are eerie, the chorus is uplifting and hopeful, “I was just wondering if you’d come along. Hold up my head when my head won’t hold on.” The transitions are perfect; one second you’re subject to the beauty of the track, the next second your disturbed. The climax of The Stone is truly beautiful, propelled by an exceptional violin solo by Boyd Tinsley. The record’s best lyrical song, The Dreaming Tree is tragic, epic, and moving as Dave suggests that people never achieve what they dream of achieving. Dave passionately delivers, “A moment froze in time, when the girl who first his kissed, promised she’d be his,” and is almost begging near the close of the track, “Take me back, take me back, take me back…save me please.”

Single and fan favorite Crush is perfectly written, featuring several tempo and mood changes and the best jam section of the record. The chorus is unforgettable, “It's crazy I'm thinking, just knowing that the world is round here I'm dancing on the ground. Am I right side up or upside down? Is this real or am I dreaming?” This is often a highlight of live shows and rightfully so, for the song is truly brilliant. “Before These Crowded Streets” elevated the previous two records to a new level, and it would be far-fetched to find more than one average track here. This album haunts and shouts with darkness throughout almost the entire record, but doesn’t disappoint when the mood changes. From the downright lovely Pig to the blunt Don’t Drink the Water, “Before These Crowded Streets” impresses. This collection of songs is the closest Dave Matthews Band has come to classic, and will probably ever come to classic.

Recommended Tracks:
The Stone
The Dreaming Tree

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Comments:Add a Comment 
November 10th 2009


I may do a discography of the band, although I think most of sputnik won't care.

November 10th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

^ Probably.

Good review, the only DMB album I can listen to without killing myself over the vocals. The Last Stop is fucking classic.

November 10th 2009


Thanks, and I know that a lot of people don't like the band because of Dave and I respect that. I'm glad you've heard the album unlike most people who say they hate it and have never listened to it.

November 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

You did it again EVedder!...Good work.

I think I prefer this album over 'Crash' by a hair. Both never quit my

cd player for too long. My favs are:

1- 'Don't Drink',

2-' Rapunzel'

3- 'The Dreaming Tree' (was my long time #1, but I gave it too much listens

...but still cool to play on drums =]

4- 'Crush'

5- 'Pig'

6- 'The Stone'

(4-5-6 are tight)

November 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Vedder you magical man! This review is 100% correct.

November 10th 2009


Thanks guys. I slightly prefer this to Crash although both are awesome. Oh and the live version of Don't Drink the Water is 100 times better than it is on this. After hearing the live version the studio version seems a bit lifeless.

November 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

^Agreed for 'Don't Drink The Water'

The 'Folsom Field's version is so powerful. Most of their songs are better live. I't's not a secret.

November 10th 2009


Good review. My parents listen/listened to this band and I listened to it through them back when I was younger. Doubt I'll ever go out of my way to listen to it now, but you never know.

November 10th 2009


Thanks. The band seems pretty hit or miss for people so you'll probably either love it or hate it. This is their best.

February 12th 2011


Summed it up well. And yeah, Don't Drink the Water is similar to Warehouse in that after listening the live versions, the studio versions seem so very dull.

August 9th 2011


love this review and album. is mr. vedder even around anymore?

August 9th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

Yes vedder was replaced under the actual mallen- ..However he's now exclusively reviewing for Review Rinse Repeat.

July 28th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Just an inch from being a classic. Very good review man. Have a pos

June 7th 2013


I think I might've made the mistake of listening to these songs live before buying the record itself. They have so much more energy live. Still - these songs are fantastic.

April 6th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

In my life, this has been the greatest album of all time. I'm not claiming that, objectively, it is. But, there has been no more perfect album in my lifetime. This is the one album that needs a "5.5" rating. We should all get just one of those.

March 18th 2015


Album Rating: 4.5

Album is amazing

July 29th 2015



Digging: (Sandy) Alex G - House Of Sugar

July 29th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

For my money, the best Dave release by far, BY FAR, is the 2 disc acoustic set Live at Luther College with Tim Reynolds. Acoustic shredfest.

November 11th 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

Great review, definitely DMB's best album

November 11th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

Band became EXTRAORDINARILY uninteresting after this.

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