It’s an interesting quirk that, having been around for two decades, The Black Crowes can now be considered as ‘classic’ or ‘veteran’ in much the same way as the bands they made their name touring in support of. And credit where credit’s due: instead of farming out a standard Greatest Hits – remember, we live in a world where InMe are releasing such a compilation and, what’s worse, having the gall to do it with a straight face – they’re presenting a collection of largely acoustic takes on songs from the length and breadth of their catalogue. It’s not simply a case of switching out the electric guitars, though; the reimagined takes prove the Crowes are entering their third decade with enough drive to look back while slyly suggesting what lies ahead.
Even though the likes of Thorn in My Pride and My Morning Song are shorn of their bluster, they are dusted with enough new ideas culled from the band’s seemingly effortless live jamming that they feel like thoroughly different songs. The former, which suddenly changes direction into a loose stomper, is a particular highlight, as is the expansive, almost lazy melding of Ballad in Urgency and Wiser Time, during which almost 20 minutes pass by. And as Soul Singing and She Talks To Angels ably demonstrate, the band aren’t afraid of messing with an established formula to put a new spin on what is practically considered gospel from the back catalogue. What soon comes across, and what is perhaps the best thing that can be said about Croweology, is that it’s not rough enough to feel like a collection of demos or a live recording, but it’s just the right side of raw to be the good kind of loose.
While Downtown Money Waster and an overlong Non-Fiction stray a little too far into self-indulgence, these are easily forgiven sins as Croweology is essentially a victory lap. It’s long enough to be slightly impenetrable if you’re not immediately aware of the band – after all, if you don’t know, say, how Hotel Illness originally wasn’t quite so country-ified then it’s hard to appreciate in and of itself – but anyone who has enjoyed the Crowes’ live show will find it a veritable trove of delights.
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