The Black Crowes

One of a disappointingly small number of bands reviewed on this site that have both the word "Black" in their name and a popular single called "Jealous Again"
*special introductory paragraph!
*Shake Your Money Maker
*The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion
*Taller Than All
*Three Snakes And One Charm
*Blackberry CD-single
*The Band
*The Band Rehearsals
*By Your Side
*Live At The Greek: Excess All Areas (with Jimmy Page)
*Freak'n'Roll...Into The Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco
*Warpaint Live
*Before The Frost...Until The Freeze

Black Crowes! Scourge of our nation's natural resources! Weed smokin', booze guzzlin' rock and rollers with longass hippy hair, tight Southern trousers and a sound stolen from early '70s bloozy RAAAAWWWWKERS (!!!!) like Free and Exile-era Rolling Stones. Same guitar tones as the Stones, Chris Robinson shrieking like a siouxsie and/or a banshee, sounding not like girly-mouthed Rod Stewart as so many critics claim, but like Paul Rodgers in his pre-Bad Company mad chested eyes closed sweat yelling finest. Their first album smashed like a retro monster onto a world poised and ready for something they could relate to (of course, I hated it at the time because I was punk, real and hardcore, and would never sell out - frig you, Ronald Reagan!). But after that, pfft. Nobody wanted to hear their slowed-down, soul-tinged shig. Nobody but ME, that is! Read on - and keep your eyes peeled for the magic word! Just turn your screen upside down and it will reveal itself in a special hidden place. If you're the first to find it, you win a thousand dollars! Hurry!!!!



Shake Your Money Maker - Def American 1990.
Rating = 8

Sure, they picked a style that had already proven to be successful way back in the early '70s, but how many other billions of interchangeable bar bands had done the same thing throughout the previous two decades? What separated the Black Crowes from that pack was, quite frankly, riffs so unceasingly pleasing in their simple catchiness that they beat the shit out of most of the stuff, or rather, the stuff out of most of the shit, that the Stones themselves had been churning out since 1980! Sure, "Twice As Hard" is essentially a straight copy of Aerosmith's "Get It Up," and "Hard To Handle" is essentially a straight copy of an Otis Redding song whose name I can't remember, but that's okay. That's okay! What do you want from rock and roll? Eight of these songs are Stones to the hilt - GREAT Stones. Gritty, rough, raw, blues-tinged, fun and loose - with that awesome Chris Robinson voice takin' it back where it all began (to quote rockabilly legends Toto). Then there are a couple of slow songs that are so generic and bland I can hardly listen to them (including the hit "She Talks To Angels"! Pardon me while I enjoy the Ramones' "She Talks To Rainbows" in direct opposition).

But that's all description. The best way to get a good feel for the simple rock and roll pleasures that this album provides is simply: Put on Exile On Main Street. Now, break into the neighbors' window, steal their stereo and put on Free's Fire And Water at the same time. Finally, turn yourself in to the police and take it up the ass in the shower for the next 14 years, you fucking Preppie Murderer scumbag, you know goddamned well you meant to kill that girl.

Reader Comments (Russell Muegge)
Compared to the rest of the Black Crowes output SYMM is weak, second only to TSOC. I agree with you about "Twice as Hard" being a complete Aerosmith ripoff. Many other songs on SYMM are ripoffs, which is this album's downfall. The music is far too derivative, but also that is to be expected on a debut, I guess. I also agree with your comment about the ballads being very bland. "She Talks to Angels" is extremely weak, but has some beautiful accoustic guitar work. I can't really think of any song on this album that impresses me a whole lot, come to think of it. That's not to say this is a horrible debut by any means, the Crowes are all very capable musicians, and that is apparent throughout. The problem is, they are just weak on the songwriting department, a problem that would be solved on the next album. Overall, SYMM is a decent debut, the only factor that keeps it from being great is the derrivative sound.
well sheeit, I sure do have a lot to say lately, don't I?

okay - I seem to be directly opposite you in regards to this album. 'she talks to angels' is a beautiful track - check out how emotional and raw the vocals are. same again for 'seeing things' (which I can't believe you didn't mention in your review). what an epic, awesome track! for me, this record is all about the vocals - sure the guitars are cool, but they're nothing special compared with a phenomenal vocal performance. and as russell already pointed out, the real weakness is the songwriting. good album overall though, I'd give it a 7.
She Talks to Angels is nice. Way better than Angie. Not as good as Beast of Burden. I like the guitars on Jealous Again, and Twice as Hard is not bad (a song about fingercuffs, if I'm not mistaken). This album's no "Exile" though. Never liked their version of Hard to Handle. That white-boy black-blues cover thing is best left to bands like The Commitments. And Van Morrison. And that little smoking leprechaun from the Lucky Strikes commercial.

I've actually never heard any of the other songs from this album, so maybe I should shut up now. (Ryan Maffei)
Yeah, I'd like this record, but all the tunes are already available on Lynyrd Skynyrd's Greatest Hits. A low-to-middling 5.
One of the L.A. classic rock stations has been playing "She Talks to Angels" an awful lot lately, and I've realized what it is that I can't stand about this song and countless others that fall in the retro southern rock/pop category: Hammond organs/Leslie speakers employed as "color." If you want to hear a Hammond organ, listen to someone who knows what the fuck he's doing (Jimmy Smith or Larry Young or even your 6-year-old cousin as he mashes his digits into a $79 Yamaha with the tone set at #13). What I'm trying to say is: grating/abrupt/jarring playing>mushy/anticipated/soothing playing in the rock genre. I'm also saying that the Black Crowes aren't musical risk takers. This critique seems somewhat unfinished, but I can't think of anything else to say. Rebuttal???
A rebuttal to what if the Crowes aren't musical risk takers? What the heck do you want? This is a fine "party" album, and an excellent debut from a group who would be VERY welcome in today's age of disposable pop/schlock and undetectable lead guitar. I don't understand what you have against Hammond organs, particularly when played in this style! It's an essential part of the sound that these guys are trying to create.

Is Shake Your Money Maker a groundbreaking album in terms of creativity. Absolutely not...but then again, it was never meant to be! It's just a bunch of southern white guys trying to recreate the music that a bunch of British white guys made many years ago, and I'm all for that. While some of the songs (Could I've Been So Blind, and ESPECIALLY Thick & Thin) go nowhere, the rest of the album is a great testament to the sort of blues-rock hybrid that music consumers had been looking for for years.
One of the great debut discs that took us into a new decade(90's) with a new sound that was different than the Seattle Grunge or Manchester,England sound from Oasis,Blur, Charlatans U.K., and others that were getting airplay during that period. The first time I heard the Crowes was on Rock 102, Dallas,Texas, home to DJ Legend "Red Beard". The first song I heard was "Jealous Again", and it made a good impression on me with its steady beat and vocals. It was only a matter of time before "Hard to Handle" started getting airplay overkill. Finally "She Talks to Angels" was being overplayed on stations across the nation.But my favorites on this disc are cuts like "Seeing things for the 1st Time" with piano work from top notch keyboardist Chuck Levall (Allman Bros.,Clapton,Stones). "Thick and Thin" kicks ass with some punk like vocals from Chris Robinson like"smells like shit to me" in referance to actual "stink" or bad behavior. This disc also knocked Guns and Rose's "Appetite for Destruction" and Metallica's 'Black" album from the top of the Rock charts, but it only musters a generous "8" from me.
Damn, a great album, beginning to end. Sure, the sound is faces/stones with the flavor of the robinson brothers. This lead to another of my favorite albums The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion. Also great from beginning to end.

I never got into amorica though. I never thought it amounted to much. I recently picked it up used and listened again. My opinion has not changed

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The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion - American 1992.
Rating = 8

Gospel-style female backup vocals, pianos and slower, more soulful songs = fewer hits! Wonderful guitarin' though. They play with "feeling" - bending notes, playing blues scales and jagged, scraggly slide guitar. They sound like they know what they're doing - and there's two of them! I like playing the guitar, but I can't play like this. I come from the punk rock school of "no feeling," so even though I'm pretty good at it now, I still have no clue how people can wring such gorgeously mood-riffic tones and sounds out of that thing. I can only get notes and hilarious noises!

Although I don't really remember this album having any hits, when I finally got a copy last year, I immediately recognized "Remedy" and "Sometimes Salvation," so I figure maybe they got some airplay. They're pretty indicative of the record's sound. Less straight goodtime Stones, more a mix of Motown-style soul and, well, Free again, I guess. I wish I knew more of those early '70s bands to compare it to, but I don't! Some people say they sound like the Faces, but I haven't heard a Faces album in years so don't ask me. Feel free to ask me about the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" though. Great song! Early phaser sound!

So essentially sire, this is NOT that simple Rolling Stones uptempo rock sound that made the band huge. Even the "rockers" are played at a much slower, lazier tempo, like the band is drunk on cherry wine, lazing around their big white Southern mansion while the servant girls sing along on the porch.

Reader Comments
There are 9 great original songs and one stinking Marley cover at the end. Kind of like when you smoke a pipe of weed and it tastes great and gets you high, and then before you know it, you're stuck with ashes and this dark sticky goo at the bottom of the bowl. These guys smoke way too much of that stuff. Hotel Illness is addictive. My Morning Song is pretty damn cool, too. These guys are a pretty damn good band, and I bet they'd never have been signed if it weren't for Guns 'n' Roses. Weird, huh? They sound nothing like them. God, that keyboard player is one ugly dude. He scares the dark sticky goo out of me. And Prindle, you should know better than that. When speaking of an African-American female, the proper term is "negress." (Geoff Saunders)
This is one of the finest rock albums EVER MADE, Chris Robinson was the best singer of his generation, and this album is the sound of a real band pushing the envelope. Being 1992 though, nobody cared unless it was coming from Seattle. The classics = My Morning Song, Hotel Illness, Sting Me, Remedy, good god they are all here. Apart from the crap Marley cover at the end. This album IS classic rock.
Wow...apparently I'm the only schmuck on the face of the planet who actually likes the Marley cover at the end. It's a hypnotic sort of thing, just like the rest of the album. You hit it on the head, Prindle, when you talked about how the slower, bluesier pace of the album generated fewer hits (and less airplay), but man, the songs on here are incredible. 'Sting Me' has one of the dirtiest guitar intros ever committed to record, 'Remedy' and 'Sometimes Salvation' are ethereal, and 'Hotel Illness' is just plain addictive. Plus, 'Thorn in my pride' somehow manages the same trick that the Stones' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' does, mutating from a rock anthem to a gospel banger...yet, of course, Rolling Stone says that the tune 'meanders'. Fuckers. Like they'd know a good rock song if it bit them in the fucking credit card. Ten stars up...way up!
I was driving through a Wal-Mart parking lot one afternoon and I noticed this song on the radio that was really rocking and I found out that it was the song "Remedy" off the then newly released "Souther Harmony and Musical Companion' disc. I agree on the comparisons with The Stones and Faces,but I seem to think they favor the band Humble Pie( Thirty Days in the Hole,Smokin') and the group called Stories, who rode a big one hit wonder entitled "Brother Louie" whose lyrics dealt with interracial love relationships and societys' views at the time. I had hoped that The Crowes or someone similar, would cover that song.

The disc contains hard rockers "Sting Me" and "Remedy",Black Moon Creeping,My Morning Song" and their live concert opening number,"No Speak,No Slave"

"Thorn in my Pride" has that Stones resemblance and a great beat through the whole number. the next cut entitled Goodbye Blue Eyes, Goodbye"starts off with Chris talking to the band saying"B and D with a little weed" and then you hear the drummer count with his sticks "ont,two three"then the song begins and early on guitarist Mark Ford laying some lazy Clapton inspired guitar licks. Ford was not a member of the band when they recorded"Shake Your MoneyMaker",but replaced the original lead guitarist. "Sometimes Salvation "features Chris Robinson doing some of his finest vocal work.

"Hotel Illness' doesn't do a lot for me, but the subject matter is rather interesting.The rest of the disc just plain rocks! Words cannot speak of the musical difference between this disc and the debut.This one has more muscle and power due to constant touring and the addition of guitarist Mark Ford. I saw a show on this tour and the backdrop was a big fishing net with small bright white Christmas lights attached. to it. Also the band displayed these huge stage length banners that to read "Free us now! No Narcs" and banners with painting of two hemp-toking black crowes. Two Birds, not band members, This disc will get a Ten.
Oh, snap. Just picked this baby up tonight. By gosh, this has some AWESOME tunes on it. I never thought too much about the black crowes, even when I was 12 and when this album was released. But, fuck me! These songs are mighty good. I'd give it a 9 since I JUST STARTED listening to it all. But, it took me six months to track this baby down. WTF, mate? (John A. Lazik)
Recorded in a week, some songs on here are first takes. It has never fallen out of my top 5 since I bought it in 1992. I'll be seeing them later this month in Scottsdale, Arizona. This record was their zenith. Every time I listen to it, I come away thinking, this is what it's all about. Put a set of headphones on me while I lie dead in the casket and play Thorn In My Pride, I may just come back to life. Shoot to Thrill from AC/DC would work too

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Taller Than All - Unreleased 1994
Rating = 7

Yo, wassup? My name is Prindle
I wrap my balls around a warm wet spindle
I've come here today to 'rap' at you
About some rare Black Crowes and some music too

Tall was an album that never came out
They reworked it as Amorica, ain't no doubt
This double-CD is a bootleg, yo
It's full of early versions of songs you know

Most of Amorica the band rehearses
My urine is blue; I think I need some Pee Nurses
There are also some songs you haven't heard, you queers
Like "Exit," "Bewildered" and "The (fuckin') Fear Years"

Some are repeated so you hear the progression
Of the songs as they're built from session to session
This stuff actually dates from '92-'94
The newer stuff's melodic, but the early stuff's a snore

It's all slow and soulful and it drags too long
You'll be 'dope' and in your 'crib' by the end of one song
And the Band-y Stones-y gospel-ly feel
Will make you go 'def' on a wagon wheel

But on disc two, the band tries fresh approaches
On a baseball team, they'd be the first base coaches
Organs and electrics and a nice piano
If you wanna book 'em in Hawaii, see Dan-o

Rhino Handmade, if you know that label,
is puttin' out a double-disc, according to fable
You'll be going "Boo-yaaaa!!" on your kitchen table
'Cuz it's unreleased stuff from these discs and Aunt Mabel

And by "Aunt Mabel," I of course mean "The Band"
A later LP that their label shitcanned
It's reviewed on this page, just scroll down a little
It's not near the end, it's more in the middle

But the Rhino Handmade thing is incomplete, G
Like where are all the songs that I named in verse three?
And where is "Title Song"? Where is "Bitter Bitter You"?
It's enough to make me call them a 'shit' or 'tit' or 'poo'!

It's missing "Painkiller" - that one's folksy and swell
And where's "A Cop Story"? That one's got a cowbell!
And I know some of these were later changed to real songs
But why not release the early versions, you dongs?

That's right, Rhino - I called you 'penises'
In The Dukes Of Hazzard, you don't know which one Enos is
Why hack it up? It makes no sense to me
You should've just released what I'm reviewing (ostensibly)

Sure, some is boring and sure there's repetition
But it's nice to hear the Crowes jam it out with Pepe fishin'
Pepe was a Mexican they kept around the studio
He cooked all their meals and he wrote "Sussudio"

Phil Collins didn't give him credit for the track
Saddam took our oil - let's take it back!
So buy this bootleg, and remember this, fool
Say no to drugs, and stay in school!

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Amorica - American 1994.
Rating = 8

They mostly dumped the backup vocals, pianos and overall Southern comfort feel of the last record, leaving this one mostly a double-guitar sloshy American rock extravaganza. Great loose playing, but within the structure of actual SONGS with really awesome hooks. No go-nowhere jams or generic Chuck Berryisms here. The Crowes by this point had refined their sound to the point that they could combine their early '70s sound with just great solid pop songwriting. Also seems a little faster paced than the last album, which is nice (though it's still not the I Know It's Only Rock And Roll But I Kiked You of the first album). To be honest, it reminds me of more recent Pearl Jam, but with more going on the mix. Only a couple of crappy songs on an otherwise spicy tang album of songiness.

Reader Comments
This is their best album. You CAN judge a book by its cover. If you lined up all their albums and made me pick one, without hearing any of the music inside, I'd definitely pick this one. Although it's not nearly as funk-kay as the cover would suggest. Not enough wah-wah guitars or clavinets or breakin' disco beats. Aw hell, who am I to complain? This is a fantastic album. "Wiser Time" is simply perfect. The piano part "Descending" is beautiful and makes me want to vomit sushi all over the carpet in beautiful, rainbow colored strews... trippy man. I just used strew as if it was a noun, which it isn't. It's a goddam verb. Anyway the piano is great; surprising it came from the fingers of such an ugly, hideous man.
prindle you forgot one thing... the PANTY SHOT! the photo of that girl was in a 1976 hustler issue i love be my conspiracy. that photo will make you................................. DROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! THE COVER REALLY CAUSED SO MUCH CONTROVERSY IN FACT I DON'T GIVE A FUCK (Geoff Saunders)
An obvious post-grunge attempt at updating their sound, no doubt brought on by some suit at the record company, The Crowes make a stab at the mid-90s sound but succeed only in falling between the twin stools of swamp rock and stadium rock. This is nevertheless a fine album. Kicking off with the straightforward rockers Gone and A Conspiracy before laying down the southern fried / eastern groove of High Head Blues. The despairing and brilliant Cursed Diamond ups the intensity levels before the band take a breather on the delightful Nonfiction. "if we had a child I'd like a son not a daughter, she'd be just like you, you know that would not do", noodles Mr Robinson with acoustic guitar and piano backup. She Gave Good Sunflower, possibly the most bizarre songtitle in my whole collection, ends side one on a wonderful 70s stylee trip. I have never been to the USA but I would think this sounds fabulous in the car driving through some Arizona/New Mexico desert freeway.

At this point the band, virtuoso musos all, are showing what range of styles and time signatures they are capable of. May I however point out that Chris Robinsons voice is not the strongest point of this record.

BUT...side 2 is a little bit of a let down after the range, musicianship and styles of side 1. Stand up P25 London, what on earth are the band attempting here?, and the honky tonk of Downtown Money Waster. Tied Up and Swallowed, the bonus track, is mere filler.

However the ballads save side 2. Have any group come up with three better songs than Ballad In Urgency, Wiser Time and Descending on one single record, let alone one side? Especially Eddie Harsch's gently moving down the piano scales of the latter track.

So to sum up - not so much Cursed Diamond as Curse Nirvana, who destroyed hairspray metal (hooray!!!) but also caused many fine mainstream rock bands, or more precisely their record companies, to rethink where they were going and what they were doing, often to those bands' detriment. There will always be a market in the USA for well-crafted, well-played rock music, but for a while in the mid to late 90s Nirvana took it away from everyone. Thanks for indulging me.
P.25 London is universally regarded as the suckiest song on this album...and the universe would be correct. Only it isn't a BAD song, just way out of place on what is otherwise a remarkable romp through early-70's rock styling. The "pubic hair" shot on the cover has unfortunately been blacked out in later versions, but it's a classic. C'mon...when is pubic hair NOT classic? Heck, most of the chicks these days don't even have any...

"Nonfiction" and "Wiser Time" get my votes for best song on here, although every one of them except the aforementioned P.25 London would qualify. And I'm sorry, but what could anyone have against "Downtown Money Waster"? It's the only song on here where they sound like they're having fun, it's the most lyrically accurate song on here. Every woman I've known has fit that profile completely.
The third disc from the Black Crowes shows the band expanding on their hard rock blues sound.The opening cut "Gone" has this piano section that sounds like he's playing one of those small "kiddie" piano's. "High Head Blues" is a great cut with dual lead guitars and percusssion instruments.Listen to the very end after the music ends and Chris takes a big hit and exhales, then says something in spanish."Nonfiction" and "She Gave Good Sunflower" are exceptional cuts indeed.The one cut that I really enjoy is "Wiser Time", a smooth Allman Bros. type song with dual vocals, acoustic, and electric guitars, and even a steel guitar."Downtown Money Waster" is a fun song that like one of the previous posters mentioned, that we know women who act like the woman talked about in the song."I'd like to taste you, but your flower is spoiled" and "Little girl likes to drink and sniff that powder" I knew several girls who drank and sniffed that powder and ended up having their flower spoiled by giving up their good stuff to obtain more powder from anyone who had it. Thus turning that sweet smelling flower into a rotten smelling tuna fish. that resides between their legs..

Good disc, but not as good as "Southern Harmony" I'll give it a Number 9, Number 9,

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Three Snakes And One Charm - American 1996.
Rating = 7

Similar to the last one (slapdash grungey drunken Stones r'n'r with almost British Invasion-catchy pop melodies buried beneath the trashy presentation), but tarnished irreparably by a couple of lame novelty songs ("Halfway To Everywhere" and "Let Me Share The Ride" are just dumb - there's no reason for such a talented bunch of songwriters to waste space on spew like that) and two lackluster ballads ("Girl From A Pawnshop" and "Better When You're Not Alone" are just weak rewrites of songs the band has already written), but the rest of the songs are as great as always! Banjos! Slide guitars! Insanely infectious lead guitar hooks like "Nebakanezer"! Holy crap is that a catchy song! Maybe their catchiest ever! It just shouts its catchy lead at you like God's proclamation of the Four Commandments from the top of Mt. Olive!

If you don't like the Black Crowes, I'm curious as to why that might be. They combine so darn many elements of pop/rock music that I can't imagine there being a person who can't find something to love. Except maybe a classical music fan but they're fags, not real people.

Did I just hear my fiancee tell my dog, "Chew on Daddy's underwear like a good boy would"? That's it, I'm moving.

Reader Comments
Sigh...witness the slide into oblivion (or as Mike Tyson would say, "Into Bolivian". There are some good moments on here, regardless. "How Much For Your Wings" and "Bring On Bring On" are both very sorrowful, yet uplifting, while "Under A Mountain" may sound preposterous, yet it's about screwing a fat chick! Gotta love that. There was a lot of internal dissention in the band at this point, though. Marc Ford, who had all those blistering leads on the last two albums, left/was forced out after this disc.
This was the disc that came out after the band had opened several dates for the Grateful Dead spinoff band "The Other Ones", on the Further Fest Tour. During this period, I think that heroin was introduced to the band and it eventually took Marc Ford out of the loop and out of the band. Drug use was widespread when touring with the remaining "Dead" member's bands and their followers(Deadheads). 'Dead" shows were great and the music was great, but it took it's toll on the Black Crowes and it showed on this disc. The first cut" Under a Mountain" is a decent cut but pales when compared to the previous three disc. My favorite cuts are the boogie flavored "Blackberry" and the song I play on the Friday before Easter Sunday,, called "Good Friday", a smooth flowing song that features harmonica and wah-wah guitar effects played slowly. The song "Halfway to Everywhere" is an attemt to sound like Sly and the Family Sone", but failing, even with the talk box effect that is simulating a trumpet sound. Overall, a generous Five.
Album had a mellower groove but with some great songs on it. I disagree with Halfway To Everywhere which is one of my faves and they still play it live. Blackberry and good Friday are also faves.

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Blackberry CD-single - Australian 1996
Rating = 4

Awwww man, I don't know how the shit I'm gonna be able to review this CD-single when I've got Judas Priest's "Reunited" DVD playing at the same time. Rob Halford has a little brown goatee and bald head, strangely resembling Freddie Krueger -- and the rest of the band looks and sounds exactly like Spinal Tap. Oh here we go! 'BREAKING THE LAW! BREAKING THE LAW!'




My bad. What i intended to say was, "Hey Australian people, don't worry about rushing down to your local Kangaroo Records(TM) to buy this CD-single because even though it features two rare tracks, they will neither give you a 'g'day mate!' nor 'put another shrimp on (your) barby!'"

HOLY SHIT! Now Rob Halford's got this big leather studded outfit with ENORMOUS fringes dangling all over the place! I mean there are fuckin' studs and fringes all over EVERY INCH OF IT!!! If I didn't know any better, I'd think this gay was - oh fuck 'MEEEEE-TAL GODS! MEEEE-TAL GODS!' That's EXACTLY what these guys fuckin' are!!! And they started the first song by all standing next to each other and picking the strings on the guitar NEXT to them! Like Rob was picking Glenn's guitar, and Glenn was playing K.K.'s guitar, and K.K. was picking Ian's and you know how they say you can pick your friends and you can pick your guitar but you can't pick your friend's guitar - well, they were WRONG! But what happened to that important man that Rob replaced? How come nobody cares about him anymore? He was a very special man.

At any rate, this CD-single features the silly happy boogie "Blackberry" from Three Snakes And A Charm along with two songs that are the very encyclopedia entry of "b-sides" -- in other words, cover tunes that don't work at all and would sound really stupid on an album. OH FUCK! Now they're playing "A Touch Of Evil" from Painkiller! Listen to those two chords KICKIN' SOME ASS!!! DANANA-NANA! DANANA-NANA! DANANA-NANA! DANANA-NANA! Now listen as his voice goes really high here! How does he DO that? He's like 5,000 years old!

The first b-side finds the Crack Blowes trying their hand at the favorite genre of every fratboy and sorgirl - sick-making reggae. HOLY SHIT!!! NOW HE'S WEARING HIS GAY LITTLE BIKER HAT AND SITTING ON A MOTORCYCLE ONSTAGE!!! HERE IT COMES! 'HELL BENT! HELL BENT FOR LEATHAAAAH! HELL BENT! HELL BENT FOR LEATHAAAAH!' Specifically, they cover Bob Marley's "Pimper's Paradise" and more power to them for that. It's not the worst Bob Marley song I've ever heard, and it's neat how its chord sequence starts out as pot-smokingly happy as always but then turns downward to end on an unexpectedly troubled chord. Good lyrics too: 'LIVING AFTER MIDNIGHT! ROCKIN' TIL THE DAWN!' Okay, the documentary's over. Now I can concentrate on this important review that will single-handedly determine the success or failure of this Australian CD-single that was released ten years ago.

Last night I dreamt that I was actually hanging out with a few members of the Black Crowes. Not the singer guy, because in my dream he'd quit the band and they'd replaced him with a girl, so I was mainly talking to Rich Robinson. First we were all hanging out in the huge hot tub at this hotel I was staying at (sadly, there was nothing homo-erotic about this part - I think they even got in with all their clothes on), then we wound up in a McDonald's, where my friend Christian Smith suddenly appeared and started singing really loudly, "If you're happy and you know it, scratch your balls!" (clap clap) "If you're happy and you know it, scratch your balls!" (clap clap, etc). Then I noticed that a big group of children had just walked in, and now they were all singing "If you're happy and you know it, scratch your balls"! One black man was even singing it to his little son! At this point, I woke myself up laughing. I just lay there on the couch, laughing and laughing and laughing at this stupid moment of my dream. That Christian Smith, always cracking me up with things my subconscious mind is making him do!

Jesus, there are far too many exclamation marks in this review. I'd better take it easy before I get carpal tunnel syndrome on my exclamation mark finger.

The remaining track is a cover of Ann Peebles' "Somebody's On Your Case." I've never heard the original, but this cover version is driven by an absolutely ass-obvious ripoff of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." Does anyone know if the original is equally a piece of plagiarism? It's strange to hear such an iconic lick converted into a dopey rock song like this, but that's the price I pay for having ears.

In short, The Black Crowes have some great songs, but neither "Pimper's Paradise" nor "Somebody's On Your Case" are one of them. In fact, on an album of really, really terrible songs - say, all written by Billy Joel and sung by Phil Collins - these two songs would still stand out as 'filler tracks.' Which is a real shame considering the similarity of the title "Somebody's On Your Case" to Sir Mix-A-Lot's awesome "One Time's Got No Case." Do you know that song? If so, check out this hilarious 'joke' I made up the other day. Christian Smith thought it was funny - now it's YOUR turn (to not get it)!

Whadju pullin' me over for, officer?

Get out of the car, Leroy.

Hey, my name ain't Leroy, man. It's Jon Anderson.

I'll be asking the questions around here, Jerome.

Yes-ter-day a morning came!
A smile upon my face!
Caesars Palace, morning glory!
A silly human race!
The Man is on my trail!
He wants to take Jon to jail!
If he does, I'll make the bail!
'Cuz yours is no disgrace!

(cops don't like me)

Yours is no disgrace!

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The Band - Unreleased 1997
Rating = 6

After Three Snakes And A Charm sank like a stone, failing to sell even one copy upon its release, The Black Crowes returned to Atlanta with tail between legs and drugs between veins to record a sloppy, choppy and none-too-poppy follow-up called (depending on who you ask) Band, The Band or Meet The Band. The record company took one listen and said, "What the screw is this P-U?" Then they called Chris Robinson and said, "What the lovemaking is this craptaking?" Chris quickly realized his impotence against a music business run by sharks, eels and monsters, and replied with a sigh, "Okay, we'll record a new album called By Your Side and you can put that out instead." And history was born.

[Meet (The)] Band is a herky-jerky mess. Chris is in absolutely rotten voice, sounding so lazy and off-key you'd think he was doing guide vocals for a demo. The drummer almost never plays a straight-ahead 4/4 backbeat, preferring to slap-slap-slap clump-clump-clump at various parts of his kit so that none of the songs ever seem to move anywhere. Furthermore, few of the choruses sound like they were actually intended to follow their respective verses, and far too many of these choruses feature gospelly black-woman-sounding harmonies that clash like the titans with Chris's tired lead.

The guitar playing itself follows the usual Black Crowes style: country/blues/gospel/rock'n'roll choogling in the style of Exile On Mainline-era Stones, Rod Stewart's The Faces, and Robbie Robertson's The Band (hence the name of this album? Doubt it), with one rhythm guitarist (or "riddim axeman" as a 'gonzo' record reviewer from the '70s might say) and one wah-wah-loving lead guitarist weaving his bendy redneck notes in and out of the performance tapestry. A few songs also include piano, horns, mandolin and/or fiddle to create a hot and swampy (pre-Katrina) New Orleans atmosphere. But above all, the overriding ambiance of this rejected release is that of unrefined, unfinished demo material -- a series of recordings that go beyond 'raw' and 'immediate' to become 'annoyingly half-assed' and 'Christ, put some fucking effort into your writing and singing!'

Out of 11 tracks, only three seem to completely 'work' all the way through, and not even all three of THESE sound like final takes. "Only A Fool" (one of only 2 Band tracks to be re-recorded for By Your Side) is a sloshy, slushy, exuberant mess of Louisiana slop, and "Lifevest" is a fucking fantastic Led Zeppeliny folk song that sounds straight off side two of III, but "Predictable," though driven by one of the record's few emotionally effective chord sequences, is dam near destroyed by somnambulist vocals and a mix that insanely/inanely gives the drums pre-eminence over the melody. Speaking of "dam near destroyed," when Hurricane Katrina h

On the bright side, other than the absolutely rancid redneck ballad "My Heart's Killing Me," the remaining tracks all contain at least one element (usually a 'catchy enough' verse riff) that could have been rescued and inserted into a better song later on. Strangely, they seem only to have done this with "If It Ever Stops Raining," which soon became the title track for By Your Side. Goddamn, that's strange. Who's with me on this whole 'strange' thing?

If you buy Rhino's The Lost Crowes, be aware that the Band Sessions disc is (for no clear reason) NOT the unreleased album as originally submitted and reviewed here. The songs have been re-ordered, remmixed and in a few instances even replaced. Specifically, "Only A Fool," "Smile" and "OK By Me" have been replaced by a rehearsal track called "Peace Anyway" and something called "Grinnin'" that I'm not sure what the hell that is. Actually, for all I know, the Rhino release might replace ALL of the Band album with mere rehearsals! That's just like a fuckin Rhino to fuck you in the ass!

That's not true. I actually really like Rhino Records; their novelty records are hilarious (Dr. Demento, especially) and they've put out more fantastic '60s reissues than probably any other label, including Sundazed. In fact, I trust Rhino so much I tend to purchase anything I find from them in cheapy bins, sight unheard.

Hence my ownership of Firefall's Greatest Hits.

Thanks for nothing, assholes!!!

"You are the woman that I've always dreamed of, I knew it from the start," my FUCKING ASS!!!!

Not to get stuck on semantics again, but wouldn't it be awesome if I actually could fuck women with my ass?

On second thought, that'd be some awfully stinky ejaculation.

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The Band Rehearsals - Bootleg 1997
Rating = 6

In a quirky twist of events that might best be described as 'uninteresting,' their rehearsal sessions for the banned Band album are much more enjoyable than the actual submitted album! This is because most of these tracks consist of guitars, bass, drums, keyboard/piano and Chris Robinson on vocals. The lack of hicky fiddles and godawful gospelly black woman backup vocals renders these tracks tons more listenable and on-key-sounding. Also, I didn't do a side-by-side comparison, but I'd swear that some of these versions feature different, more tuneful lead vocals. Not "Predictable" or the absolutely HIDEOUS wannabe-Let It Bleed-era-Stones-country ballad "My Heart's Killing Me" though. Lordy knows I can't stand that automatic pitch correction effect that is dating every single dance pop song of the past three years, but I'd gladly make an exception if there's some piece of machinery that could make Chris's overloud bridge cry "...EVER..." even approach an actual note.

If you happen to purchase the Rhino discs, please send a note letting me know whether the Band songs have gospelly harmony vocals in the choruses or not. I'm curious because I see that their track listing includes "Peace Anyway," which is ONLY on the rehearsals disc, not the actual submitted album. On another note, if you're wondering why I would say "These versions are BETTER!" and then give both discs the exact same grade, it's because the rehearsal disc isn't simply "the submitted versions but without the black lady or whoever the hell it is." It also includes a few tiresome jams, some truly ROTTEN early versions ("Wyoming & Me" doesn't have its touching verse melody yet, "Only A Fool" doesn't work without all the New Orleans swagger and slime, and its earlier incarnation "Baby" doesn't work at all), and a cover of my personal least favorite pre-1980 Bob Dylan song, "Oh Sister." What the hell is he saying in that song anyway? That God wants us to fuck our siblings? It sure seems to go from sexual/personal to philosophical/metaphorical pretty damn quickly, at any rate. I hate the music too. It sounds like something The Band would write, and is, therefore, bad.

On the brighter side of your face, the disc also includes some great Let It Be-style dicking around that sounds great on tape, including a brief impromptu attempt to cover The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," an electric version of Amorica's "Downtown Money Waster," a funny herky-jerk musical snippet entitled "Toast Is From The Devil" (highlighted by the lyric "It's burned-up Devil Bread!"), and a brief argument between two band members that hints that tensions were high. The track listing claims that this is an argument between Chris and Rich, but it's the piano that sounds like it's in the wrong key, so I don't know.... At any rate, here it is, in text form:

(*band plays, the piano sounds horrible*)

Person #1: (laughing) "Just fuckin' play it, you little cocksucker! Is that what you want?"

(*band plays, the piano sounds horrible*)

Person #1: (not laughing) "What the fuck are you doing? What are you doing?"

Person #2: (unintelligible)

Person #1: "Are you retarded?"

Person #2: "You said to play it the old way."

Person #1: "No, I didn't, really. You figure it out; get back to it. I'm gonna go watch baseball."

The tape ends right there but, being the inquisitive type, I got to wondering, "What would it be like if we had the REST of their argument on tape?" Why, I bet it would look something like this:

Person #2: "Hey, eat a dick!"

Person #1: "Okay."

And then the tape would end. Look, just because I'm inquisitive doesn't mean I'm a goddamned fiction writer. I can't simply 'make something up' and put it on paper. It has to REALLY happen to me, in REAL life. That way, I can use my gift of written gab to bring my memory of the event to life for millions of readers worldwide! For example, check out this story of something that happened to me this morning:

"Apotheosis be wept!" I exclaimed within the sacred wound of my spiritual horizon as Henry The Dog ran around the couch to avoid his master's gilded leash. This twice-daily ritual had become the sarcophagal bane of my twilit existence, with each morn and eve's light capturing me with dog lead aglow in palm as he - Canine - findeth gleam in eye to bark, wag and run around the couch with playful palpitations of fuzzy surefootedness. Thine animal absent-mindedly commits to slight hesitation near coffee table so wooden, and VICTORY IS MINE! The fearful beast is thus tamed for a peaceful sojourn to the Park so boastful of its Centrality. And it is here, at long last, that he of admirable fur, growls and tail.... goes Poopy.


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By Your Side - American 1998.
Rating = 8

I feel so impotent when I can't think of the right words to describe the sound of an individual band or maintain an erection. I'm tired of saying "raw, bluesy, Stonesy, melodic," but gosh ding dong, that really is what they SOUND like! On this one, it seems like they're making a conscious effort to pick up the pace and create some Money Maker-esque chuggers that the kids might dig. The songs are good, but I'm sure they probably got little or no airplay. Ah well. Plus, it seems like the most one-dimensional recording they've done since that one. The melodies are still fantastic ("Kickin' My Heart Around" and "Virtue And Vice" are, I mean like, WOW!), but there seems to be less going on the mix. More bar chords and straight rock note riffs instead of bluesy lead playing around a central melody. I'm not bitching about it, I'm just telling you. I'm also telling you that if you like prime Rolling Stones even at all, you might want to go ahead and pick up all the Black Crowes albums at the store tomorrow. Their records certainly aren't as diverse (or, you know, revolutionary or whatever) as pre-'75 Stones were, but if you're looking for good solid muddy tunes that you'll want to listen to over and over again in your Harley Pickup Truck, this is the only mainstream '90s band I can think of that would be appropriate.

Oooh, except for Paul Simon's raucous Songs From The Capeman LP.

Reader Comments
Some good ideas wasted. There's an acoustic version of "By Your Side" floating around on the web that works about 100 times better than the version on this CD. Plus, the title track used to be called "If it ever stops raining" and was ALSO about 100 times better than the CD version, even though both versions were basically a rip-off of the Stones' "Crazy Mama" (come on, listen to the riff and tell me differently). Their first album without Marc Ford since the first one, and unfortunately, their first album with an ex-Aerosmith producer. That'll kill you everytime.
I don't know why so many people cut this album down? After the "Three Snakes and a Charm" disc was cluttered with the Crowes, trying to imitate Sly and the Family Stone on a couple of numbers and more than a few half-hearted and uninspired tracks, they release "By Your Side' with an uptempo beat and inspired vocals. The opening two tracks "Go Faster" and "Stop Draggin' my Heart Around" are two of their best hard driving rock songs since The Southern Harmony disc. The title track is reminiscent of the Stones "Exile on Main Street sound(Tumbling Dice").The next cut "Horsehead" sounds so much like Billy Squire, remember him from MTV? The best of the remaining tracks on here are "Virtue and Vice" and the song about telling the Congrgation, "When the Devil's got a hold on you, Go tell the congregation". I can't remember the correct title.

Fans are fickle. Rock stars are idols one day and also-rans the next. I hate to say it, but I think that The Black Crowes had their day in the Sun, but now it's cloudy. Maybe they can put out a couple more "Comeback" disc.

(a week later)

Correction: I mentioned "Go Faster' and "Stop Draggin' my Heart Around" when I meant "Stop Kickin' my Heart Around", I wasn't thinking about the Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks tune, just came out that way.(similarities) When you write these reviews by memory instead of looking at the titles on the disc while typing, these things happen. (John Castiglia)
The Crowes got too big for their britches, if you ask me. After Amorica, it seemed they spiraled down into a Allman Bros. / Grateful Dead esque jam band. This album seems to be a return to what made them famous; ripping off Stones riffs and turning them into awesome songs. Kickin’ My Heart Around is one of the best rock and roll songs ever written, even though the guitar riff is stolen from the Stones song “Memo From Turner”.

I have a lot of respect for the Crowes, having seen them live more than a few times. But this album seems like a calculated attempt to re-establish themselves, not a natural progression. The guitar work seems a little stiff at times. The production seems a little too slick. But the songs are better than anything on 3 Snakes. I’d give it a solid 7.
Holy shit, loved this album. It takes off like a rocket and has some of their best toonage. Unfortunately, other than the tour for this album, they haven’t played Go faster which I love which segues into Kickin' My Heart Around since the album hit. One of my favorite songs by them too. The album is just fun and great toonage.

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Live At The Greek: Excess All Areas (with Jimmy Page) - MusicMaker 2000.
Rating = 7

Jeez, who did the Black Crowes have to Black BLOW to get a gig like this? A show with Jimmy Page??? THE Jimmy Page???? From THE FIRM???? So this piddly-doddle is a double-CD featuring 15 Led Zeppelin covers, a Yardbirds cover, a Fleetwood Mac cover, and three things that I guess are old blues songs or somesuch. It's astonishing how accurately the band recreates the exact guitar tones and sounds of the original versions, but Chris Robinson, as great a singer as he is, was never built to sing in Robert Plant's range. Very few people are. So the vocals are pretty bad. Very off-key most of the time, slightly below the notes he's supposed to be hitting. Which essentially ruins every song.

But it's still better than Quadrophenia!

Reader Comments
This album would be a 10, except for 1 naggling little detail. There was a group called the Lead Zeppelins that did all this stuff about 30 years ago. And then, before that, there was a bunch of old black dudes sitting on their back porches who did it first. So this is 3rd-generation, 1st-rate stuff, to the Nth degree. Har!
Geez, this is pathetic. It’s like that Modest Mouse band with the Johnny Marr thing. It’s as if these guys went to a Deep Purple concert and thought, wow, here's a band that should never have existed in the first place touring around with a bunch of blokes who weren't even good enough to play on that Smoke on the Water song, and they’re all 50 years old and trying to look like the coolest kid on the block – maybe we're going to become that in twenty years time? Heck - we don't want to wait 20 years! We wanna do that NOW! Let's find some old washed-up rock star who has NOTHING to do with our band or even our style of music and make him our guitar player! We want to be a bunch of randomly assembled rock dinosaurs at 25! We wanna be OLD before we die! And SUCK!

This thing has brought me to the edge of posting an excessively long rant somewhere. Rock music is honestly dead now. It’s not enough that it's been suffocating on its own trumped-up mythology since the seventies ("the singer works his way through the Zeppelin-esque epic with an almost David Bowie-like croon" - "almost", obviously, since David Bowie is a god), it has now commited the most grievous offence that a style of art can commit - it has basically spat on its own medium, the fucking thing that MAKES IT WORK. Oh here’s the next Radiohead coming in with their next "OK computer”, with all the dramatic guitars and feeling of space and dynamics – but whoops, we can't do this bit. This here part is quieter than that other part. We can't do that, we've been blasting 2 fucking thousand decibels at young people in concerts so they can't hear those quiet parts anymore. We'll have to make that louder. It’s like a painter would bring his new painting to his agent, and he’d go, „Oh great painting, but we’ll have to make it a bit brighter by throwing these acid chemicals on it. *SPLASH* Heh, that’s a funny thing you do with your jaw there. But seriously, what are those pink spots here? Shadows? HAHA, what are you blind, pink shadows? Oh they weren't pink originally? Well what are you drawing shadows for anyway, you nuts? Don't you know that 90% of the buyers are myoptic -6? They can hardly tell the painting from the wall, and you're drawing SHADOWS?"

So is it any wonder that the hottest stars of our underground scene are in the same band with the Smiths or Led Zeppelin and that the most exciting thing to happen with rock music in the last 15 years has been iPod? If you actually don’t care about your music to the point where you let some fucker run it through a computer to make it more attractive to deaf people, then you should just be left to rot as a whole. Rock music since the late nineties = jazz since the late seventies. No direction, no future, no point. There are only so many ways to be a rebel, „irreverent”, „not care”, be more intoxicated than the other bands, only so many ways to „not be bound to a single style” (well that’s what people generally do when they don’t know the fuck they’re doing). Take the time to listen to the records of any of these "Best of the year indie" lists on the Internet - there's a dudette singing over a Kurt-Weilly piano, a couple of guys playing country rock, guy playing synths while singing about Canada, Dinosaur Jr., and Mike Patton with his latest collection of Middle Eastern terrorists. It’s a fucking talent show! Where's the dude with the spoons? Come on, and play that funky bass line from Seinfeld! This is ROCK AND ROLL MAN!

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Lions - V2 2001.
Rating = 8

The funky slightly southernish classic rock band is back with another album that sounds just like The Black Crowes! Only difference here is that there are a couple of really awful tunes in which they go beyond "funky butt rock" to attempt actual "FUNK" (complete with stupid STUPID vocals) and end up sounding like an Infectious Grooves tribute band (i.e. bad). Also, the dude's voice is way too loud in the mix. Has it always been this loud? He has a cool early '70s voice, but I don't need it digging into my ear like a Kate Hudson-fucking gopher the whole time. Especially when the riffs are as cool and Zeppeliny as "Cosmic Friend," "No Use Lying," "Greasy Grass River" and... well, most of the others too!

That's right! You read it right! Once again, The Black Crowes prove to the world that rock and roll is not a barren art form as they give us track after track of catchy, creative guitar riffs you haint ever heard before - not even by The Rolling Stones, the World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band(TM)! One thing though - I'm not sure why people keep calling this a "comeback record." It's just like the last three - brewing with guitars and hipster organs, with a few nice ballads tossed into the rock stew for diversity! Besides the awkward funk of "Young Man, Old Man" (which actually has an interesting, non-conventional melody during the verse) and "Ozone Mama" (which doesn't), I'm not sure what's the big deal and wherein lies the difference and wherein. And wherein lies the difference and wherein.

See, if you were a big Fall fan, you totally would have gotten that.

You still wouldn't have found it clever, mind you, but we can't have everything in life. Not even pants.

Reader Comments
This is the new one and you don't have it listed on your stupid website thingy. I don't know why they called it Lions. They could have called it Elephants. Or Monkeys. Yeah, Monkeys would be way better! You know what part of Swiss Family Robinson I love, is when the little fat kid is chasing the monkey up the tree, and he says, "Come here, little monkey. I don't want to HURT you... I just want to PET you!" Yeah man!!! Pet that monkey!!! Anyway, I've only heard this album once and it's not at all bad. It's good-ol', down-home, old-fashioned monkey-petting music. It's pretty heavy, actually, although not quite heavy enough to bang your head against the wall. However, it is the perfect album for standing against your wall and dry-humping it, all the while pretending it's Kate Hudson. (Roland Fratzl)
This band has always had a lot of potential, but they have a nasty habit of watering down their retro-rock with radio friendly production that really ruins most of their material for me. Every time I hear one of their songs I think "hey, that's not bad!" only to lose interest with each subsequent listen that I'm exposed to. Seems to me that all of their albums have 2 or 3 really good songs and the rest is generic blues based rock filler. Oh well, no need to worry our little heads over them since they have wisely decided to call it quits. They had their time in the sun, and lately they weren't really adding anything interesting towards a revival of old style hard rock anyways.
Not a bad album by any means! Also not a comeback, since Prindle rightfully points out that there's not a huge amout of difference between this album and the other three that preceded it. The only times it loses momentum are on the quiet piano-driven tracks, namely "Miracle to Me" and "Lay it all on me", although "Young Man Old Man" really sucks as well. I can deal with Ozone Mama for some reason.

Still, the band seems pretty into everything, and tracks such as "No Use Lying", "Cypress Tree", and "Cosmic Friend" are hardly "blues-based rock filler" as the above poster claims.
If I'm not mistaken, the Crowes used Don Was as their producer for this one. Different guitar effects, chord, and tempo changes make the style a little different from the previous releases, but the roots are still intact. "Midnight from the Inside Out' is a hard edged opening track that grabs you from it's beginning and takes you into the cut "Lickin" without much of a pause in betwwen. (note;there is not much, if any pause in between all the songs). Chris sings " girls gonna get a lickin"., does he mean a spanking or is he going to bury his head in a "fur taco"?

"Come On" starts off strong but hangs on for dear life towards the end."Ther's no use in Lyin', I've heard all your bullshit before" sings Chris in the cut "Lyin'"I skipped over a lame track to get to a cut titled "Ozone Momma" lay your daddy down. There is a repeating piano "riff" that sounds like an exact replica of some recognizable Beatles tune, but I can't put my finger on the title, but I bet I'm not the only person who thought it when they heard it. "One of my favorites is "Greasy Grass River' and the way it segues into "Soul Singing". I really like the intro into the cut"Cosmic Friend"as well as the rest of the song. After playing a stint as Jimmy Page's band the Crowes came back into the studio and cut this disc. Overall the songs are worthy of praise, but Chris Robinsons vocals are the weakest they've been, maybe he's singing into hand held mic instead of a studio microphone with a screen on it ? somewhat hollow sounding instead of his usual crispness. The disc as a whole is good though. 7.5 not quite an 8 but close.
Took a while to get into this one but it grows on you. It is not as fun as By your side and I saw them play this stuff live and it sounded great. You cant go wrong with this one in your collection

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Live - V2 2002
Rating = 6

Gentleman: Man, constipation is a 'pain in the ass'!
Lady: 'No shit!'

When the Black Crowes announced plans to release their first double-live CD without Jimmy Page, I was pretty excited because I love Robin Trower and I just knew that when paired with the B

Then I learned they weren't inviting a guest guitarist AT ALL, and I was like "Are you taking the piss? Are you shitting me?" Because it really stank in there.

The following jokes all have one thing in common: the punch lines are ACTUAL pieces of ACTUAL stage patter uttered by Chris Robinson on this double-live CD. Here they are. Prepare to laugh your grits off!

What was Paul McCartney's one piece of advice to John Lennon as they collaborated on the 1995 "Free As A Bird" single?
"Play it real quiet like you been doin'!"

Art Teacher: "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!? I asked you to draw a WOODPECKER!"
8-Year-Old Girl: "Sometimes things have more than one meaning, you know!"

Why did the entire Attack Attack! fan base come up empty when asked to describe the sensation of kissing a girl?
It's a feeling you can't get in Cyberspace!

What did Pythagoras and Pascal say that so upset their audience of math rock fans?
"We'd like to do another ballad type of number!"

Queen: "What is up with this godawful song you just submitted?"
Paul Rodgers: "I wanted to write a song about drag racing, but I don't know anything about it so I wrote a song about the Cosmos!"

What did Chris Robinson say while beating rhythmically on a log of his own fecal matter?
"We wanna play ya some funky shit like this!"

Yes, there's certainly no shortage of viable punchlines when Chris "The Jester" Robinson is around. Unfortunately, your goal is probably to learn about the album's musical content. On this, we'll simply have to agree to disconcur.

The band kicks off the evening by performing four songs each from Shake Your Money Maker and The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion, three from Amorica, six from Lions, one from Three Snakes And A Charm and one rarity before really cranking into high gear with zero songs from By Your Side. The guitars are loud and the live sound is awesome and up your face's ass, but they sabotage their own efforts by (a) dragging every song out to an inexcusably boring length, and (b) annihilating the pacing by playing far too many slow songs in a row. It also doesn't help that Chris sings most of the songs slightly off-key. Couldn't they have fixed that in post-production? Kiss would have!

In retrospect, it's disappointing that the original rockin' version of the Black Crowes never released a live album. Even by the time of By Your Side, the only original members left were the Robinson brothers and the style of the band was quickly changing to a more roots-rock/blues/soul/folk/country direction.

And by "quickly," I of course mean "they broke up for four years."

Incidentally, this album was recorded in Boston on October 30-31, 2001. But did they say even word one about either the 9/11 terrorism attacks or the pending 11/10 Prindle/Aske wedding? No! No on both counts! So why pray tell did George W. Bush, greatest-ever American President, not immediately throw them out of the country!? I'll tell you EXACTLY why!! Because he was stoned out of his mind on that super-cocaine they make in the Pentagon.

Fuckin' liberal media!!!

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Freak'n'Roll...Into The Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco - Eagle 2005
Rating = 5

Hi! I'm Shit McFuckleberry, a successful literary agent of the day. You know, some days you get the craziest book submissions in your mailbox. For example, check out this one I received just the other day:

by Ian Anderson

Hello there, my name is Ian Anderson and I'm the lead singer of Jethro Tull. But one thing they don't teach you in the Drum Clinic is that I also lead a satisfying sex life. For example, the reason I play the flute is because I'm impotent. In fact, did you know that if you ram a flute as hard as you can up the nappy du


Obviously, as a successful literary agent of the day, I had no choice but to take a pass.

But that's because I'm also a top-selling NFL football player. When the game was over, I paid Ian Anderson five trillion dollars (10 francs) and got his Book Of Sex onto the shelves of every library in America!!!!!

Unfortunately they somehow ended up on the shelves of not regular libraries, but SPERM Libraries. Honestly I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Sperm Library, but apparently it's like a Sperm Bank except people check out a bag of sperm, enjoy it for two weeks and then return it when they're done. But the craziest thing of all is that I'm dead!

Corpsey LaRue
Formerly Shit McFuckleberry

Now let's get on with today's review, that of the Black Crowes' stupid-as-shitly entitled Freak'n'Roll...Into The Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco. At this live program, the band performed four songs each from Shake Your Monkey Mayor and The Shitty Harmony Book Of Southerners, three from Amorica, two from Two Snakes And A Puppy Dog's Tail and one each from By Your Side and Lions -- as well as one non-LP original and four non-LP covers. One sec while I drink more vodka than God.

Okay I've now drank more godka than Vod. They cover Joe Cocker, Willie Dixon, Band and Stones. But with black female back up vocalists and horns, they're trying too hard to be a gospelly soul band. And they drag the songs on forever and do too many gross 'soul' vocals too.

And who needs stage patter like "Rich and I wore vests tonight so you'll know we're brothers. Also, if the whole 'band' thing goes away, we can get waiter jobs!" But seriously, who needs 8 1/2 minutes of "Hard To Handle"? Or a shuffle-boogie rocker that he sings as if it were "Amazing Grace"? Or a song where I'd swear to God he's singing "Can I have some Lemonade?" Also, I hate rednecks. I'm from the South and those people sodomize you. Don't celebrate them. Don't celebrate ANYBODY! One time I celebrated a Mexican and he sodomized me.

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Warpaint - Silver Arrow 2008
Rating = 4

This is of course the album that Maxim magazine infamously panned after hearing only one song.

Oh, to write for Maxim magazine.

But no, I did the honest thing and listened to the entire CD - MULTIPLE TIMES - just to confirm what Maxim correctly guessed: it stinks ass.

The band itself sounds fantastic. They have a new lead guitarist and keyboardist, and every track is a naturalistic, warm, earthy jam of gritty distorted rhythm guitar, expert lead slide guitar, soulful piano/organ and adequate rhythm section complementing each other as if they'd been playing together since 1960. Unfortunately, Rich Robinson hasn't come up with any good songs for them to play together.

The band is clearly concentrating more on creating a rootsy blues/country/folk/gospel/Stones atmosphere than penning "Twice As Hard Pt. II (Three Times As Hard)" hit singles, but even within these parameters the songwriting is surprisingly weak. Even when a song starts off promising (see the gorgeous first minute of "Movin' On Down The Line"), it inevitably loses itself in either ugly, awkward chord changes or bland country-blues cliche's. Plus, most of it's slow. Not that that's necessarily bad, but I figured I should mention it so you don't think you're buying a big ol' rock and roll boogie party like Shake Your Monkeyfucker.

Look at my notes here - just LOOK at them: "One chord with a dull vocal melody on top," "Chords pulled from a shitty Carpenters song or something," "Just a hokey lick," "Chorus is just shitty! The vocal melody has nothing to do with what the guitars are playing!," "Yucky chorus melody," "Not too memorable," "Dopey descending chords" -- these aren't the things you write about a good album. Heck, the Keith Richardsy "Wounded Bird" features the only catchy chord sequence on the record, and even that one turns into a dumb '70s country-rock riff halfway through. It's not like I expect every album to be a shimmering pop masterpiece, but if all you've got for me is unpleasantness and generica, why should I listen? Just because your band sounds fantastic? Hey, Hitler sounded fantastic too, and you don't see me listening to HIM!

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Warpaint is equivalent to the Holocaust, Khmer Rouge genocide, Atlanta child murders, Jonestown massacre, D.C. sniper attacks, Hiroshima bombing and Vietnam War -- COMBINED.

No no, hear me out!

Reader Comments
I can only agree with a few statements made in this review. Yes, the band sounds fantastic and yes, they are clearly concentrating on a bluesy rootsy feel. A bluesy rootsy band usually does deliver that kind of music. I feel that this album contains some of the greatest songs ever written! There's some great guitar work, outstanding vocals, expressive lyrics, fantastic bass lines, impressive piano/organ, and the drummer (who may be one of the most under-rated drummers ever) is impressively contained and on the money. Not to mention the song writing is phenomenal. I can't think of anything The Black Crowes have left out of this one. If you're looking for a band that creates multiple albums that sound exactly the same, this is not them. Why would you want an 18 year later Shake Your Money Maker with Twice As Hard part II? If you like albums like Grateful Dead's "American Beauty", CSN's self-titled album, The Band's self-titled album, Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush", or if you just like good old rock and roll, I think you will find this one in your stereo quite often. I give it a 10 out of 10 hands down.

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Warpaint Live - Eagle 2009
Rating = 4

You may have noticed by now that they're losing one point for each double-live CD they release -- but that's not just me being fickle. With each live album, they're simply becoming less of a rock combo and more of a hippy/soul/roots/gospel/country/blues Grateful Dead shit band. And honestly, it shouldn't be too surprising that a live performance of their 4-rated Warpaint album in its miserable entirety should also receive a 4. The songs are just as mediocre live as they were in the studio!

But here's something interesting that I hadn't noticed before: the reason that "We Who See The Deep" sounds so dark and menacing is because it's a ripoff of "Gimme Shelter"! Also, who knew that "Evergreen" is their "phosphorescent love song"!? Or that their cover of Reverend Charlie Jackson's "God's Got It" is "a festive take on a song with a message"? These are ALL terrific things that we learn when Chris Robinson opens his marijuana-smelling mouth between songs!

So unless you're the biggest fan in the world of Warpaint (I'm talkin to YOU, ""), you're probably more interested in Disc Number 2 (B). Well, that's unfortunate because it stinks even worse, slopping through the number two of one b-side, one Southern Harmony Companion bore and four cover tunes (Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Moby Grape and the delightfully succinct "Delanie & Bonnie & Friends & Eric Clapton"). Everyone loves "Torn & Frayed" and the Crowes play it to the hilt of greatness, but the rest of this literal abortion is a sloppy soul/roots rock/boogie-blues Trash Bag of Garbage (with a dead baby in it). And have you seen the singer's BEARD lately? No wonder Kate Hudson threw up all over his dick that one night.

So here are some hilarious jokes since this album sure isn't very good:

How many members of Black Crowes does it take to screw in a light bulb?
It depends how tightly Chris Robinson gets his disgusting flea-ridden beard caught in the fixture!

Why did the Black Crowes cross the street?
To get to the other sideburn! (Chris Robinson's vomit-inducing wall of facial stench-whiskers takes up an entire street)

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Chris Robinson's beer!
Chris Robinson's beer who?
Chris Robinson's beard (beered) has an entire family of woodpeckers living inside it!

What do you get when you cross Chris Robinson with a clean-shaven man?
A clean-shaven man with a repulsive pile of pubic-smelling shit hair dangling off his chin!

What's the difference between Chris Robinson and a member of ZZ Top?
No member of ZZ Top has a beard that makes you want to piss all over his face for sanitary reasons!

Reader Comments
i dont have to buy or listen to this collection of porch sittin, hound dog kickin, moon shine stillin, corn cob pipe smokin, tunes to know that it sucks. i loved everything prior to warpaint and was very so - so about that effort. but i put that aside and went to see them perform this nonsense not once, but twice in new york at an "electric" and a special "acoustic" show. being completely underwhelmed at the electric show i knew i was in for some seriously comatose entertainment at the acoustic event. and they did not disapoint. or rather they did. sammy hagar once sang "i cant drive 55". well these guys pulled over, forgot that they were supposed to play a show, put the seat back, turned the car off, doped up, and went to sleep. they have a huge catalog of great songs, right? so what did they decide to play? only the most obscure, obtuse, and objectionable tunes, popular say, down by the second tree, to the left of the creek, on the fifth mountain, a hundred miles away from the nearest road. just beyond the grassy goat farms and near the edge of the alligator swamps. wow. they barely looked alive on stage and if they moved you wouldnt have known it. you could barely see their faces beneath the piles of hair, twigs, and birds nests. and to add insult to sleep induced injury, chris robinson actually berated the fans for daring to request his songs! telling them to leave and get their money back. yes my child i hear your prayers, now do go **** your self. to listen to this again would be like self flagellation of the ears. the most boring show EVER! do you have trouble sleeping? pop this in the cd player it"ll knock you right the **** out. in conclusion, this cd is without a doubt the sleeping pills of music. seek medical attention for flaccidity lasting longer than four hours after listening.
I'm pretty sure this was released because of a contract agreement between The Black Crowes and Eagle Rock Entertainment. Otherwise, I see no reason to release so many official live albums whenever you allow your music to be taped and traded freely (and plenty of it is available). I like Warpaint, so I think this is great music, but I never listen to it because I'd rather listen to the studio album. There's not much added to the live versions here, except the extended jam on the coda of Oh Josephine. The 2nd disc is cool, but again you could get these songs for free on the Internet...

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Before The Frost...Until The Freeze - Silver Arrow 2009
Rating = 6

Okay, they still haven't returned to the straight-up rock and roll of yesteryear (and probably never will), but at least they're writing some actual hooks again! New Orleans jazz-blueser "Good Morning Captain" and CCR-esque swamp rocker "Been A Long Time" kick off the jubilee with a pair of melodies stronger than anything on the previous record and, though this level of catchiness certainly doesn't hold up for the entire double-disc, the fact that the album has any superlative songs at all (other standouts include the sloppy country-bloozer "Shine Along," Zep III-reminiscent "What Is Home?," energetic C/W rocker "Roll Old Jeremiah" and hilariously out-of-place yet delightful DISCO ROCKER "I Ain't Hiding") is a refreshing indicator that their talent hasn't been completely flushed down the toilet through years of weed huffing and beard growing.

Actually, the term "double-disc" is a bit misleading: Before The Frost... is a single disc featuring eleven blues/country/gospel-tinged rock songs, and ...Until The Freeze is a downloadable 'bonus disc' of nine Appalachian-flavored country-folk-blues songs that is made available to anyone who purchases the former. Interestingly, even as separate entities, each disc earns a 6/10 on the Prindle Unbiased Scale Of Factual Quality. So don't write off the download stuff as outtakes; it haint that at all! It's just music of a much more rural style, so they piled it together as a separate object.

I'd like to make one thing exceptionally clear: unlike Facepaint, which I genuinely feel is comprised of bland, depressing roots-rock failures, this record shows inspiration, discipline and a true grasp of the folk/country/gospel/blues/rock musical language. The reason that my grade is only a 6 is reflective less of the record's artistic qualities than the fact that this simply isn't my favorite kind of music. But look -- if even Mark "Fuck You, The South" Prindle can enjoy such a blatantly rednecky album, imagine what a more tolerant music fan might think of it! In other words, if you love Facepaint, you're out of your mind; it stinks. However, if you love Before The Frost...Until The Freeze, I can definitely understand where you're coming from.

The mountains of Appalachia, that's where! So come on down and square dance to the fiddle-drenched "Garden Gate," tune in turn on and line dance to Eastern hoedown "Aimless Peacock," spill rotten beer all over your filthy drunken jeans to redneck country-blueser "Shady Grove," weep a tear of southern comfort to the peerless pedal steel of "Roll Old Jeremiah," wonder why you've never heard of Manassas to syrupy ballad "So Many Times" and pass out in a puddle of blood and vomit to sleepy old hick ballad "Fork In The River."

I'm not sure exactly what's driving the reunited Black Crowes to so violently revolt against their former rock leanings (old age? new band members? Stones burnout?), but as long as they continue to put this much effort into their songs and sound, I don't guess I need to complain about it. So enjoy your chewing tobacco and keep on countryin', o Crack Blowes!

Reader Comments
First off, I appreciate the personal reference, it made my day! I certainly am strangely obsessed with the music of this band. Secondly, I agree a lot more with what you have to say about Before The Frost, etc. I do enjoy this kind of music so to me it is a great album. However, as much as I think it was a cool idea to record the album live, the applause after each and every song gets on my nerves. If you're going to release a "studio" album that was recorded live, at least cut out the applause so I don't have to listen to it over and over. The other complaint I have about the album is that it is so long. I usually would not complain about the length of a Black Crowes album, but this one is terribly long even for a double. After the newness of Warpaint has worn off, I am still a big fan of it, but would probably drop my rating to a 9. Before The Frost gets a 9.5 because the quality of the songs are just a bit better than Warpaint, but misses a 10 because of the previously mentioned flaws...

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Croweology - Silver Arrow 2010
Rating = 6

This double-CD consists of the current country-folk line-up performing songs originally recorded by the defunct rock'n'roll line-up. I was all excited about this idea, generously opining, "Huzzah! These men of great instrumental talent but limited songwriting ability shall spring forth new life from the Black Crowes' old hooky chestnuts!" Unfortunately, they then picked all the slow songs and made them even boringer.

In the numbers game, they perform: five songs from The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion; four each from Amorica and Three Snakes And A Charm; three from Shake Your Money Maker; and one each from By Your Side, Lions, and Rich and Chris's Birds Of A Feather. Plus, as a special bonus gift for all the fans who have stuck with them through thick and thin over the past two decades, they do a terrible Gram Parsons cover.

The set starts off not just promising but excellent, with acoustic guitars (including bottleneck and slide), piano, harmonica, female backup singers, and Chris's most tuneful vocals in ages merging together for jaunty downhome takes on "Jealous Again," "Share The Ride," "Remedy," "Hotel Illness" and "Soul Singing." But before long, both energy and melody start to flag, until finally the entire band falls asleep but keeps playing anyway. As the only Crowes who actually played on the original versions of these songs, Chris and Rich really should've known better than to end the 20-song set with five ballads in a row. I love sleeping as much as the next guy, but not when I'm trying to drive an 18-wheeler full of schoolchildren and flammable gas through a busy intersection on the side of a mountain at 100 miles an hour.

Hark! I've just had a few random thoughts I feel compelled to share:

- Has "Good Friday" always sounded like "Breathe" by Pink Floyd?
- Has the end of "Girl From A Pawnshop" always sounded like "Hold Me" by Fleetwood Mac? (Or, alternately, "Hero Of The Day" by Metallica?)
- Has "Sister Luck" always sounded like "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan And His Guns 'N Roses Band?

I've had no additional thoughts for the past month and a half so I'll stop there. But before you go, check out these three nightmares I've had within the past week. In the first, I couldn't stop crying from grief over the failure of my marriage. In the second, I smashed every window in my home due to rage and despair over the failure of my marriage. In the third, my ex-wife inexplicably moved back in, yet continued acting like she hardly knows me and wants nothing to do with me.

I've consulted every Dream Interpretation book on the market, but am still at a complete loss as to what these nightmares could possibly symbolize.

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