The Black Crowes have always had a hard time finding their audience. They were initially marketed alongside metal bands and put on at shows like Donnington Monsters of Rock Festival, where, inevitably, they went down like a lead balloon. They are, however, to those in the know, one of the best rock n roll acts on the planet and have survived the test of time by delivering consistently great material through their different 'phases'.
This also means that what they don't know about rock, blues, gospel and soul ain't worth knowing. They are as much Sly and the Family Stone as they are Willie Dixon and they pay their dues alright to those who've gone before and influenced their sound. Their famous free taping policy of live gigs and extensive touring schedules have resulted in probably the biggest collection of bootlegs and live recordings of any rock band. Dig into this treasure trove and you'll find superb covers of folks like Neil Young, Stephen Stills, The Band, Otis Redding, Gram Parsons, The Stones.... the list goes on.
This CD brings together most of The Crowes' best tunes, delivered pretty much acoustically, with help from a percussionist and pedal steel player. I've got to say, having seen the group play live many times, this is up there with the best of em. The band have re-worked most of the songs and played about with the arrangements and orchestration of the tunes, but in a really good way. As a result, most of them swing along nicely with a funky feel. My Morning Song goes to church at the end with a brilliant gospel stomp, followed perfectly by Downtown Money Waster in the same vein.
Any Crowes fan knows they'll hear some great solos, a bit of jamming, but most of all singer Chris Robinson's soulful vocals carry the whole thing. When he's on form he's up there with some of the best black soul artists in the way he delivers his vocal. Sister Luck demonstrates this well and he really gives it some! On this CD you get the best of Chris - he's not playing about with the tunes maybe as much as he used to back in the day but is perhaps a much better singer and knows when to and when not to stray from the tune. The 2nd CD also features a great cover of Gram Parson's "She", pretty much true to the original but equally bittersweet sounding. The only song I wish was included here is Cursed Diamond, which is one of the most powerful of the Crowes' songs.
I could go on. Just buy it in confidence, even if you've got a boot-load of different versions of these songs you won't be disappointed as these are well performed and produced (by Paul Stacey). A great ending statement for a band about to take a lengthy hiatus. Nicely packaged too, with a surprising little pop-up sleeve.