Friday, November 27, 2009

Album Review- The Black Crowes Before The Frost

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information before or after if needed but will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:

The Black Crowes
Before The Frost…Until the Freeze
****an1/2 out of *****

When The Black Crowes released Warpaint fans were ecstatic for a return to original form from the Southern rockers.  Ok, so with a solid album under them the old tour dogs could continue in their same tried and true vein forever right?  Well here comes Before The Frost… and it ups the ante as to just what this band is capable of going forward with new members Luther Dickinson on guitar and Adam MacDougall on keys.  Both are no longer the new guys, as they make vital contributions right from the get go.

The rollicking guitar and piano sashay of “Good Morning Captain” kicks off with lyrics sounding straight out of the 1800’s.  Chris Robinson is the consummate front-man; passionately singing the blues to lost lovers and vacant cities throughout the album, if anything his rich voice has gotten better with age.  The Crowes haven’t grown into old men yet though; their asses can still get down as is evident on the funk grooving single “I Ain’t Hiding”.  Recalling “Miss You” from The Rolling Stones, this soulful shakedown somehow manages to make disco fresh in rock and roll again, not a simple task.  The band also funks up peace-and-love-rock on “Make Glad” and gets wah-wah scratch heavy on the closing breakdown in “Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)” which lends itself to the stage.  However this album isn’t all about late seventies funk and night club bumps. 

“Appaloosa” is a classic western lament glowing with acoustic strings and pedal steel, before the banjo laced “What Is Home” eases in like a late night jam session.  The personal pain of “Last Place That Love Lives” wraps up the album with bare bones honesty and loneliness.  Larry Campbell’s influence and recording in Levon Helms Woodstock studio before an intimate crowd infuses these tracks with a down home feel.  Old time fans not feeling the newer directions will still find some solid standard Black Crowe efforts like “Kept My Soul” and “And The Band Played On” to ease their minds. 

The countrified bonus download disk …Until the Freeze is also an extra thank you to the fans.  Stripped down simplicity on “Garden Gate” and “Roll Old Jeremiah” continue the relaxed vibe.  While the Crowes were always capable of a boogie …Until the Freeze confirms they’re just as adept at a slowed down hoedown.      

Where past efforts have linked the Crowes directly with The Stones, The Allman Brothers and Face’s, Before the Frost…Until the Freeze calls to mind The Band and The Grateful Dead.  This is no longer regional rock, but pure wide open Americana; flowing over mountains and through rivers before cutting loose and shaking booty in city nightclubs.  A mature effort that never rocks as hard as their younger selves, yet satisfies more.

More thoughts after the jump:

This album is great.  I was incredibly impressed with it upon my first listen and it only keeps getting better and better with each repeated spin.  There is a DVD coming out regarding the making of it, and I can not wait to grab that, but until then the Interview Doug Collette did for Glide with Steve Gorman the drummer for The Crowes.  It is a great piece that sheds light onto the process.  I will have a lot more to say about this album in the near future when I post my best of 09 so for now just enjoy some of the tunes:

And The Band Played Om - The Black Crowes
Full Album can be heard here:


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