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Before the Amplifiers (Live & Acoustic)

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Album Review

Sister Hazel goes "unplugged" in this live in the studio recording before a small invited audience of fans and friends. The band's repertoire of romantic, melodic, electro-acoustic pop/rock songs lends itself to arrangements that eliminate the electric instruments in favor of lots of acoustic guitar playing, but at the same time the songs are not that different in this form. As such, the group might have adopted a more communicative approach, with lead singer Ken Block introducing the songs in greater detail. He does give some explication in front of "Just Remember" and "Change Your Mind," but for the most part restricts himself to informing his listeners which albums the tunes come from, as if they didn't know. Actually, the audience seems more enthusiastic than the band, hooping and hollering and even singing along on "Swan Dive." In its post major-label career, Sister Hazel has cultivated its fans with special events and the usual series of releases aimed at their core audience (live albums, rarities albums, holiday albums), of which this is another. Selecting songs from each of the band's six studio albums (with half the tunes coming from the major-label sets Somewhere More Familiar and Fortress), the disc provides a good summary of their catalog in an intimate setting. Maybe they should try another borrowed idea from MTV, however, and do a "storytellers" album to go along with this "unplugged" one.

Customer Reviews

I buy alot of music and this is by far the best album I've bought in awhile

This album combines collectively, some of the greatest hits that Sister Hazel had. Let's forego the stuff we heard on the radio, Sister Hazel does not succumb to the "clear channel music ways" of today and is happy writing what the poetic hearts have to offer. Not only does this album grasp the past 14 years for this band, from songs off Absolutely to the 16th track 'Feel It'...the first Sister Hazel song ever written, it also shows the raw talent of musicians in a bare-all acoustic format. For those 'Hazelnuts" out there, you will be pleasantly surprised how the song "Happy" takes on a whole new element in this slowed-down acoustic version. There's probably not a band out there that truly respects and appreciates what their fans have allowed them to do...they truly are gentleman that are prepared to greet you as a peer. The album is an emotional collection of what I think these songs sounded like before they ever hit the studio.


This is acoustic rock at it's best. If You're a Hazel fan this is a must. If you're a newbie then this is a great starting point since all of their hits and fan faves are here. I especially love the bluegrass feel of "Starfish" and the tempo change of "Happy". Overall a terrific representation of the Sister Hazel sound.

Best acoustic

Before the Amplifiers represents the best acoustic set from Sister Hazel to date. Old fans or new, this album is a must for any music collection ... acoustic, rock, or otherwise.


Formed: 1993 in Gainesville, FL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining elements of acoustic rock, folk, and jangle pop, Sister Hazel formed in 1993 in Gainesville, FL. The band's five members all boasted ties to the city's local scene; vocalist/guitarist Ken Block and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Copeland canvassed the coffee shop circuit as a duo, lead guitarist Ryan Newell honed his chops with the local band Waterdog, bassist Jett Beres studied his instrument while pursuing a degree in architecture, and drummer Mark Trojanowski played with several Florida-based...
Full Bio
Before the Amplifiers (Live & Acoustic), Sister Hazel
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Customer Ratings