Black Crowes Re-Release First Four Albums on Vinyl
It’s really sad to have to write about a band like the Black Crowes in the past tense. In a career spanning a quarter of a century they sold over 30 million albums and established themselves as one of the very best American rock groups. However, a disagreement over ownership of the band between Chris Robinson, his brother Rich and drummer Steve Gorman led to them splitting up back in January this year.
So unless there can be some kind of resolution to this impasse, the only ‘new’ Black Crowes material anyone will be reviewing in the future will be re-releases such as these. On December 18, ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ will come out as a single disc, ‘The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion’, ‘Amorica’ and ‘Three Snakes and One Charm’ will all be issued as two-LP sets with sound cut directly from masters.
Shake Your Money Maker: The band’s debut album featured two Top 30 Billboard singles in their cover of Otis Redding’s ‘Hard to Handle’ and the acoustic ballad ‘She Talks to Angels’. Recorded in the summer of 1989 in Atlanta and Los Angeles with producer George Drakoulias, the album featured Allman Brothers keyboardist Chuck Leavell. Critics compared them to the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and the Faces.
The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion: The Black Crowes’ sophomore album, which went to #1 on the Billboard 200 upon its release in May, 1992, eventually going double-platinum, will be released for the first time as a two-disc 180 gram vinyl set. It was previously released as a single LP in 2004 only in certain countries. The album was the first to feature Marc Ford on lead guitar, replacing Jeff Cease. The four released singles each topped the Billboard Album Rock Tracks charts, including ‘Remedy’, (11 weeks), and ‘Thorn in My Pride’ (four weeks), breaking a record previously held by Tom Petty. The disc also includes the band’s cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Time Will Tell’. Guitar World named it to the magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitar albums of all time.
Amorica: The two-disc 180-gram vinyl reissue has been out of print in LP form since its initial 1994 release as a single album. The band, now a six-piece, had previously ditched the unreleased Tall, and its subsequent release caused plenty of controversy in the marketplace, with several retailers refusing to carry the album, whose original cover (later airbrushed) depicted female pubic hair visible under an American flag bikini. The original release went gold for selling over 500,000, peaking at #11 on the Billboard 200.
Three Snakes and One Charm: The Black Crowes’ fourth album was previously available on vinyl only as a boxed set of 7” singles, but now comes out for the first time as a two-LP set on 180-gram vinyl since its initial CD release in July, 1996. The original album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200. The album was recorded in a rented home, which helped soothe the frayed relationship between the brothers Robinson, then finished at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles. Two bonus tracks, originally included in the boxed set, ‘Just Say You’re Sorry’ and a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Pimper’s Paradise’, are included on the fourth and final side of the double-vinyl set.
Having sat down and listened to these albums again (for the first time in years, I have to admit), I was absolutely blown away by just how good they were. Obviously everyone is familiar with their massive singles ‘Hard To Handle’ and ‘Remedy’, but there’s so much more to their work than just them. However at £21.00 an album, buying all 4 is a bit rich for me. But if I was to buy one, which would I choose?
Easy. Shake Your Money Maker has always been widely regarded as a blues rock classic and is for me, the Black Crowes at their original, purest, best. It may be 25 years old, but the album sounds every bit as good now as it did back in the day. From the barnstorming signature track ‘Hard to Handle’ to exquisite ballads ‘She Talks To Angels’ and ‘Seeing Things’, the album is simply awesome.
And the continuing vinyl renaissance means we can enjoy it on the best media of all.
You can pre-order your copy HERE