Jason’s Jukebox: The Black Crowes

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I know no luxury
Of knowing what your eyes read
I know one million ways
To always pick the wrong thing to say

A love that you never gave
Always a time zone away
It’s not out of spite
I know what’s right

The early 90’s were an experimental time at best.  Hair metal had waned.  Rap and new wave gave way to more darker versions of their 80’s selves.  There was a good time for something different. It didn’t seem like a good environment for a throwback like the Black Crowes, but yet their Southern Rock sound yielded many hits during the 90’s and early 2000’s. They lasted a good 25 years, and now that they’ve announced they are split up, I’m ranking their discography.

Original Lineup:

Chris Robinson–vocals

Rick Robinson–guitar

Johnny Colt–bass

Jeff Cease–guitar

Steve Gorman–drums

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Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

Singles: “Twice as Hard”, “Jealous Again”, “Hard to Handle”, “She Talks to Angels”

Rating: *****

This album is actually a remnant of an earlier band the brothers Robinson had formed called Mr. Crowes’ Garden. Two of the songs, “She Talks to Angels” and “Could I’ve Been So Blind” were from that era.  The band was voted Best New American Band by readers of Rolling Stone that year.  It’s considered their best album and I’m inclined to agree. It even got into the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. This is a great debut and actually one of the best debuts I’ve listened to.

Best Tracks: “Twice as Hard”, “Hard to Handle” , “Stare It Cold”

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The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992)

Singles: “Remedy”, “Thorn in My Pride”, “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes, Goodbye”, “Sometimes Salvation”

Rating: *****

This was an excellent follow-up; no “sophomore slump” here.  The first half of the Black Crowes discography is the best of their material. Marc Ford and Eddie Harsch join the band with this album, and they’re great additions. By this time, The Black Crowes had found a niche as an alternative to the darker bands of the 90’s.

Best tracks: “Sting Me”, “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes, Goodbye”, “Time Will Tell”

Fun Fact: “Time Will Tell” is a Bob Marley cover.

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Amorica (1994)

Single: “Wiser Time”

Rating: ****

This is the band’s most controversial album, mostly due to its cover.  Guitar World chose it as one of the 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994. Is it worth the controversy? I’d say almost.  There were only a couple songs I didn’t care for.

Best Tracks: “Gone”, “She Gave Good Sunflower” Downtime Money Waster”

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Three Snakes and One Charm (1996)

Singles: “Good Friday”, “Blackberry”

Rating: ****1/2

This was the last of the top shelf for me. I’m not saying the Black Crowes stopped making good music, but they never measured to the standards of their first four. You know it’s bad when the Best of Albums come too early.

Best Tracks: “Good Friday”, “Nebechanezer”, “How Much For Your Wings”

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By Your Side (1999)

Singles: “Kicking My Heart Around”, “Only a Fool”, “By Your Side”

Rating: ***

This was the first album to feature Audley Freed and Sven Pipien, who replaced Marc Ford and Johnny Colt. It has a similar sound rather than to Southern Rock. It signals a new sound, one that critics weren’t kind to.

Best Tracks: “Go Faster”, “Welcome to the Good Times”

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Lions (2001)

Releases: “Licking”, “Soul Singing”

Rating: **1/2

Critics came down hard on this one! They considered imitations rather than anything positive. While I don’t agree with these criticisms, I don’t think this was a good album. In fact, I think it’s their worst album.

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Warpaint (2008)

Singles: “Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution”, “Oh Josephine”

Rating: ***

This was their first release on their new Silver Arrow label and there was  a seven-year gap between this one and Lions. That’s never a good sign.  This is their best album with Audley and Sven.

Best Tracks: “Walk Believer Walk”, “O Josephine”

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Before the Frost/Until the Freeze (2009)

Rating: ***

For their grand finale, the Black Crowes released a variation on the double album. The album Before the Frost was the first half, and Until the Freeze was only available by vinyl release or download. It’s a great send-off, and I really wanted more.

Best Tracks: “Appaloosa”, “Make Glad”, “The Garden Gate”, “Roll on Jeremiah”

Next time, Jason’s Jukebox will crossover with Autism Acceptance Month for Talking Heads.

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Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

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