The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

THE BLACK CROWES
CROWESOLOGY

 

 

So here we have it! On the brink of their indefinite hiatus comes a 2-CD collection of re-worked classics from the Crowes. The packaging itself is pretty cool, with its hand-drawn trees and ‘pop-up crows’ springing out at you when you open the sleeve (not that it scared me you understand). It’s a nice touch in this day of digital downloads and something that must have cut the profit margins back some. The track-listing is nice too but with a band like the Crowes with so many songs, it was always going to be impossible to please everyone. My only slight quibble really is that well, it’s just not quite as ‘acoustic’ as I expected. Sure it has acoustic guitar on there, but there’s electric guitar, bass, organ, oh well, ‘primarily acoustic’ then. You can always listen to the ‘Unplugged’ sessions, the ‘Ronnie Scotts’ show, or the early single B-Sides if you want to hear some truly acoustic Crowes.

 

‘Acousticity’ aside (I just made that word up it means authentically-acoustic); what we get is as far as I’m concerned is still a bit of a mixed bag. There are songs that sound very much the way we know them with seemingly little added or taken away: just with the guitar turned down. Some songs though have new arrangements, twists and turns that mainly work but sometimes leave the song sounding a little flat and less exciting then you remember like “Jealous Again” which seems to have lost all of its bounce and half of its joy. That though I’m pleased to say is the exception as much of the rest is a real joy to listen to.

 

As far as the content goes, most of the material here comes from the first four albums though there is of course the ubiquitous ‘Soul Singing’ which I never really particular cared for, but maybe that’s just me?

 

When it works this is timeless and perfect. There are also songs that have had the long established ‘live’ additions ingrained into them here, so anyone who has seen the Crowes over the last few years will appreciate the extended workouts of the epic “Thorn In My Pride” and “Non-Fiction” for example. Other songs simply have new additions that I am not familiar with like “My Morning Song” which with its new twists and turns is like seeing a copy of the Mona Lisa in a caftan, very entertaining, but a little unsettling. 

 

It’s hard to go past the classics though, and songs like “Hotel Illness”; “Wiser Time”; She Talks to Angels” and Sister Luck” serve to remind you of the status of this band as a great Rock and Roll institution. Despite all the tinkerings and instrumental shake-ups the songs in the main sound as essential here as when you first heard them. Being a sucker for the first two albums especially, I am a happy camper. For Crowes-heads there’s also the rare “Cold Boy Smile” making its non-live debut and a scintillating cover of Gram Parson’s ‘She’.  

 

Sure there are some things that don’t hit the spot with me, like the drum machine on “Share the Ride” but it’s very much the exception. If this is the end then this is much better than going out with a “Greatest Hits”. There are 20 songs here that remind you why the Crowes are important and why this indefinite-hiatus talk should end now! By the CD and stop the split!

 

Mark