The Black Crowes: Croweology

The Black Crowes
Croweology
(Megaforce)

It’s been 20 years, more than a dozen releases and an infinite amount of arguments between brothers Chris and Rich Robinson.
The Black Crowes had their big coming out party with their 1990 debut Shake Your Money Maker and kept rolling through the 90s with such classic Crowes releases as 1992’s The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion; 1994’sAmorica; and 1996’s Three Snakes and One Charm.

The new mellinium saw more hiadeouses and rumors than albums, save a few live records for the band, but they have always been road warriors.

Like Jagger to Richards, Plant to Page, or even Tyler to Perry, The Black Crowes were led by vocalist/guitarist attack of Chris and Rich Robinson. Heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones, the Faces and a few other bands from that classic 1960-70s era, the Black Crowes had a gritty boogie southern style which struck a chord with fans and critics alike.

Now on the cusp of calling it quits (again,) the Black Crowes have put together a 20-song double disc acoustic best of collection entitled Croweology.

Although the album kicks off with one of the bands earliest hits – “Jealous Again,” the album is nicely mixed so all the hits don’t start off the record and the rest if filler. Sure they include a few more classic, more popular Crowes hits like “Remedy” and arguably their biggest hit to date – “She Talks To Angels,” but there is no filler here.

The first disc is littered with great sounding, albeit stripped down songs like “Share the Ride with its slow backwoods funk lead by killer dobro playing from the younger Robinson brother. The strongest song on the first dic is beatuiful downtempo  “Nonfiction.”Again led by Rich Robinson’s acoustice guitar and a solid bass line. “Soul Singing” could very well be a radio mainstaple with it’s pop goodness backed with Southern soul vocals.

The afformentioned “She Talk s To Angels” doesn’t even sound like the original except for Chris Robinson’s signature vocals. The album is stripped bare in favor of a gentle groove led by a soft Hammond organ. Following “Angels” is a down home Delta Blues porch rocker “My Morning Song” with Rich’s steel slide guitar work, a tight bass line which has been pushed to the forefront and a rakus gospel breakdown that will have you screaming “Hallelujiah.”

The Black Crowes’ Croweology feels like a new album considering the different styles they bring in to rework old gems. They still have the classic Robinson vocal sound, but the addition of strings, epic backing vocals and the dusty backroads blues, makes a lot of these songs stronger than the originals.