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Croweology

The Black Crowes

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Album Review

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Black Crowes decided to revisit several of their staples from the past two decades, giving them acoustic rearrangements. While some of the songs are revised heavily, some are merely given strength by the new setting, not so much because the songs sound better stripped down to bare bones, but because the Crowes are still riding the wave that started with their 2008 comeback Warpaint, retaining the rustic, ragged live vibe of Before the Frost/Until the Freeze. This is the opposite of that live-in-the-studio record, where the band laid down new songs on tape preserving their freshness; instead, this is the sound of seasoned veterans still finding new ways to play old favorites. Naturally, this makes this set the province of diehards, but at two discs, this is a generous, entertaining gift to the fans who have stayed true throughout the years.

Customer Reviews

wonderful...

what a peaceful and wonderful acoustic album - perfect collection of their best!...20 years of superb music...thank you BC...

Croweology serves as a highly valid epitaph...

The Black Crowes were somewhat out of step with the times when they first emerged amid the hysteria of grunge in the early 90s. Their sound was traditional blues soaked American rock with flashes of gospel influence, southern rock and nods to americana and country. They really had little in common with the Pearl Jams and Nirvanas of the world but for some reason crossover did occur. Remedy was the flashpoint, a song that rattled and rolled and built with soul and fervor into an anthem of sorts. Chris Robinson filled the lithe frontman role perfectly with his skinny hips while sibling Rich was the silent guitar-slinger, the Keef to Chris’ Mick.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and the band is parting ways (again) to focus on other parts of their lives. As a parting gift they have released Croweology, a 20 track collection of songs re-recorded in a primarily acoustic or at least a laid-back rootsy manner.

The hits are present and in softer form than their original state. Remedy is reduced to a slow sway of a tune sounding closer to Blind Melon than the ballsy, testifying version from ’92. Two years prior they had released their big ballad in She Talks to Angels and it still holds up as one of their greatest and most genuinely heartfelt moments. On Croweology they add some fiddle and cascading acoustic guitar to the slow-burn drama without resorting to saccharine schmaltz. The epicness of the original is gone but replaced with a warmer intimacy.

The band are happy to mix things up and have some fun on racks like Share The Ride with a cheap drum machine and handclaps framing some wonderful slide guitar playing. It shows they aren’t leaving on a dour ‘unplugged’ note but rather a celebration of the joy of making music together.
There are moments when it feels like they never want the songs to end, highlighting the jam aesthetic of their playing. Ballad in Urgency and Wiser Time both push past 9 minutes in length. The former is a slow and sweet Hendrix-like tune while the latter is a swifter shuffle that allows space for a range of acoustic guitar and bass riffing.

The band includes a wonderful version of Gram Parson’s She, one of the great 60s west coast americana songs. They retain the sweetness of Parson and splash a small dose of sadness through the arrangement with glorious results. It is a clear nod to one of their influences and they perform it with sincerity and subtlety before injecting gospel blues singers into the final farewell track Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye.

The only gripe, which Black Crowes fans will see as a strength is the length of the release. Stretching to 2 hours over 2 discs it is a mammoth mission to sit through it all in one go. The acoustic framework adds to some sameness but taken in isolation the songs are impressively reverential in the way the band has approached them and woven in threads of gospel and country rather than settling for straight acoustic rock renderings.

Croweology is a nice way to end this chapter of The Black Crowes career and if it ends up being the last project the band release then it will serve as a highly valid epitaph to a band that were often out of step with musical fashions but nevertheless navigated their way through those foreign waters with the strength of their songs and their self belief.

Classic ...

Its so hard to put on any other album at the moment ... old classics and new favourites mixed into one long, wonderful listen.
Fans will be hoping that if and when they return from hiatus, that the Crowes continue what they started here .. such rich musical brilliance.

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

At the time of their 1990 debut, the kind of rock & roll the Black Crowes specialized in was sorely out of style. Only Guns N' Roses came close to approximating a vintage Stones-style raunch, but they were too angry and jagged to pull it off completely. The Black Crowes, on the other hand, replicated that Stonesy swagger and Faces boogie perfectly. Vocalist Chris Robinson appropriated the sound and style of vintage Rod Stewart, while brother Rich Robinson fused Keith Richards' lean guitar attack...
Full Bio