It's True — She Really Is Better Live

With Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, the Dixie Chicks and others.

It must be an amazing rush to play Central Park, and judging by her

ebullience here, Sheryl Crow enjoyed every second of it. Recorded in

September at a show that was partially broadcast live on VH1, the album

clocks in at just under 75 minutes. That's a generous length, and may be nearly enough to satisfy both Crow's fans and those of Crow's "friends" who shared the stage.

The show opens with "Everyday is a Winding Road" (RealAudio excerpt), and a lyrical entreaty to "Jump in, let's go, lay back, enjoy the show." And we do. Truth is, I've never seen what all the Sheryl Crow fuss is about, but it turns out that there is something to her fans' insistence that listening to her albums isn't nearly as satisfying as seeing Crow live.

The singer/ songwriter easily interacts with the crowd, teasing during

"Leaving Las Vegas" with: "So guess what, I'm playing in Central Park

tonight, and I've got some special friends that are gonna come out later. You can be patient, right?" There isn't long to wait, actually, because the Dixie Chicks join in for the very next song, "Strong Enough," lending some twang and tang to the proceedings.

The new song "It Don't Hurt" (RealAudio excerpt) is introduced this way by Crow: "It's about getting over somebody and all the stupid shit you do to get over them." While Crow's whole band respectably conducts itself here, violinist Mary Rowell deserves special mention for her lovely playing.

While Crow mega-hits "A Change Would Do You Good" and "All I Wanna Do" are obvious crowd-pleasers, the audience goes ballistic when Stevie Nicks comes out to sing lead on "Gold Dust Woman" (RealAudio excerpt). When Chrissie Hynde joins in on "If It Makes You Happy" it's clear that Hynde's passionate

growl could blow Crow offstage, but instead the two trade verses.

Keith Richards pops in to offer up "Happy," alternating verses with Crow while Hynde sings backup. Eric Clapton's turn onstage featured Cream's "White Room" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," but sadly, only the former is included on this recording. The album closes with the obligatory all-star jam, Dylan's "Tombstone Blues," with all of the players taking a stab at vocals.