We gave it a B+
REMEMBER TWO THINGS The quintet exudes raggle-taggle charm in this frisky, underproduced recording, most of it culled from concert performances. Early versions of ”Ants Marching,” ”Satellite,” and ”Tripping Billies” frolic like exuberant strays in the park.
UNDER THE TABLE AND DREAMING The pros step in — producer Steve Lillywhite and mixer Tom Lord-Alge — and the little jam band that could injects some muscle into its noodling. Lillywhite beefs up the choruses, transforming ”Ants Marching” into an arena-ready hoedown.
CRASH The album’s inevitable breakthrough ballad, ”Crash Into Me,” helps to transform Matthews into a mainstream hitmaker. ”I want too much,” he sings, and the slick production and ambitious but unfocused songwriting prove the frontman correct.
LISTENER SUPPORTED The stage is supposed to be the band’s natural element, but violinist Boyd Tinsley and saxophonist Leroi Moore are better when coloring rather than dominating the arrangements. Non-hardcore fans may wince as long-winded solos elbow aside the tunes.
EVERYDAY Pop producer Glen Ballard focuses on radio-friendly songs, at the expense of the quirks that define musical personality. The singer has never sounded more formulaic than on ”The Space Between,” while the straitjacketed band goes through the solo-free motions.
BUSTED STUFF ”Busted” resurrects songs from the aborted album that surfaced on the Internet as ”The Lillywhite Sessions.” Dave Matthews nails down two of his best tunes, ”Bartender” and ”Grace Is Gone,” and for the first time in years, the production doesn’t interfere.