on 26 February 2002
Counting Crows' first album, August & Everything After, was a fine debut. It contained some truly memorable songs such as "Round Here" and "Mr Jones". But taken as a whole album it was disappointing. It contained a few lacklustre songs and there was no real "light and shade".
So then three years later, they released this album, and what a change has taken place. Gone is the bare bones production of T-Bone Burnett, replaced by the sympathetic, but still fairly raw, sonic honing of veteran Gil Norton. Adam Duritz's songwriting is flawless and the (vastly underrated) band play as a far more pleasing whole. It is my favourite Counting Crows album and one of my favourite albums of all time.
It opens with a "Strawberry Fields"-like organ line, leading into "Catapult", a song in which Duritz sets up the mood for what follows, singing "What a big baby / Won't somebody save me please?" Duritz's voice, while never pitch perfect, is nevertheless ideal for this sort of song, positively crying out in loneliness and desperation. "Someone should be with me here / ('Cause I don't wanna be alone)."
"Angels of the Silences" is the first song that tells you this is going to be a different ride than the previous album, with it's punk-esque guitar and frantic pace. It's followed by the most Country-esque song on the album, "Daylight Fading".
The sequencing of songs on the album is slightly odd, because we're still just getting into it. "I'm Not Sleeping" is memorable for it's piercing strings line and it's insomniacal lyrics, possibly written in frustration at four in the morning! "1-2-3-4-5-6-7 am / All alone again." The strings fairly throb in sympathy.
"Goodnight Elizabeth" is next and it's an album highlight for most, showcasing Duritz's songwriting at it's most beautiful but vulnerable. "We couldn't all be cowboys / So some of us are clowns". Great stuff! It also showcases David Bryson's wonderful guitar playing - I really think the band deserves more credit than they get. Yes, it's Duritz's show but these guys are a phenomenal support cast.
Next is one of my favourites, "Children in Bloom", with Duritz returning to his favourite theme of dislocation and uncertainty. "I gotta get out of this sunlight / It's melting my bones." The opening chord is stunning and the closing guitar solo is inspired. It's a perfect song.
If you want to understand just how far Duritz's emotional state has moved on since the last album, you only have to contrast "Mr Jones" with the next song, "Have You Seen Me Lately?" In "Mr Jones" Duritz sings "We all wanna be big stars . . . " In this song Duritz ruminates on the possibility that he is merely a voice on someone's radio, singing to his fans "You got a piece of me / But it's just a little piece of me." It shows his disillusionment perfectly, while set to one of the bounciest and light-hearted tracks on the album - a great juxtaposition.
On "Miller's Angels" Duritz's voice has rarely been bettered. When he sings "In the shadow of God's unwavering love / I am a fortunate son" even a cynical atheist like me is moved to tears! A wonderful piano and voice track, with a superbly subtle backing from the band, it's another highlight.
For me the next two tracks are the centrepiece of the whole album. "Another Horsedreamer's Blues" is a stunning song, telling a story of a gambling dreamer. Duritz sings the line "One of these days she's gonna throw the whole bottle down" with such rage in his voice. There's a gorgeous Wurlitzer electric piano line on this song.
My absolute favourite song on the album is the title track "Recovering the Satellites". Duritz is back at the theme of displacement, singing "It's a lifetime commitment / Recovering the satellites / All anybody wants to know is / When you gonna come down?" Anyone who's been there knows what he's talking about . . .
"Monkey" is a Ben Fold's-esque piano number (he even mentions Fold's name in the song!), and "Mercury" is another song in the country vein.
"A Long December" is Duritz doing what he does best, a wonderful conversational piece ("It's been so long since I've seen the ocean . . . I guess I should") with a piano part to die for.
So how do you end a perfect album? With a perfect little song. "Walkaway" is 1:10 of genius, just Duritz's voice and Bryson's guitar, sending us on our way with "Someday I'm gonna stay / But not today".
I can't even begin to describe what effect this album has had on my life. I bought it when it came out and I've been listening to it constantly ever since. It never loses it's appeal and always lifts my spirits. It's glorious.
That's all. So there.
on 16 June 2007
After hearing Mr Jones i decided to get the Counting Crows first album 'August and Everything After.' That album blew me away and made me an avid fan of the counting crows. The next step was to buy this album, their second studio album.
I didn't really know what to expect, did i want an album that was the same to the first, or a new sound? What i got was something in between, and the results were once again spectacular.
The thing that made me love August and Everything after was the intro track 'Round Here' and i thought that the band would need to start the album in emphatic fashion in order to impress me. The first song on this album is an instant classic, called 'Catapult' it is such a fast intro that you will feel like you are hurtling along at a 100mph!
The album continues in this vein with 'Angels of the silences' and 'I'm not sleeping' but slows down for the beautiful 'Goodnight Elisabeth' which reminded me of 'Sullivan Street' from the first album.
But for me, the album peaks half way though with the stunning 'Millers Angels.' he song is so good i cannot describe it!
The title track is another highlight and will get you tapping along for a long time.
The major disapointment for me was the next two songs. 'Monkey' and 'Mercury' are the weakest counting crows songs that i have heard and in my opinion should have been omitted from the final listing.
However, this album finishes emphaticaly with 'Walkaways' and left me with the urge to get more albums from this band.
Please buy this and their first album. Your hearing senses will never be the same again.
on 22 August 2001
This album is amazing, saying that though, all the counting crow albums are so good. They are my favourite band by a considerable amount and thats because they have everything, talent, songwriting ability, good sound and most of all emotion. This album may be heavier than all the others but its still fantastic and listening to songs like a long december and good night Elizabeth only make you in awe of the genius of Adam Duritz. These are the ultimate band if you like the sound of goo goo dolls,nine days, matchbox 20, stroke 9, creed or vertical horizon. you will not be dissapointed, go for it!!!
on 23 August 2006
I became a huge Counting Crows fan about 5 years ago, and the first purchase I made of theirs was-of course-'August and Everything After' and naturally, I was amazed!! I then had to go out and buy 'Recovering the Satellites'. I hurried home to put my new album on and to be honest, I was quite disappointed-it sounded really to different to 'August' and I was convinced that it would never grow on me. However, I persevered and listened to it a couple more times and I started to properly listen to the music and the lyrics and something just clicked-I loved it!! It may be different to what you are used to if you only have 'August' at the moment, but it has to be said that the change is not a bad one at all-if anything, it could be said that it is even more mature. The song and music writing is as good as ever and Adam Duritz is-of course-still fantastic!! As I listened to the album more and more, I began hearing and noticing new things-its one of those albums that you think you know really well and then one day when you put it on, you hear something that you'd missed before-you just keep discovering new things about each song and I think that is the beauty of this album!! Outstanding tracks to listen out for on the album are "Angels of the Silences", "Goodnight Elisabeth" (my absolute fav on the album-a really beautiful track), "Have You Seen Me Lately?", "Recovering the Satellites" and "Walkways". "Walkways" is a really clever song, it is purely acoustic with Adam singing over the top and its only just over a minute long!! "'I gotta rush away', she said, 'Been to Boston before, and anyway, this change I've been feeling, doesn't make the rain fall'"-brilliant track!!
So, do not despair!! If you already have it or are going to buy it-you may fall in love with it straight away!! Its true that you can really tell a distinct difference between this album and 'August', but I think it's a good thing because it shows that they are moving onwards and upwards and at least it can certainly be said that their songs do not sound the same!! 'August' was a fantastic debut for the Crows and in my opinion, it will never be bettered-so I am just thankful to the guys for doing their best and coming up with a brilliant second album!!! But take my advice-if you think you don't like it at first, just play it a few more times and you will understand why everyone thinks its such a good album!!
on 8 August 2001
Listeners might be forgiven for expecting a dissappointment given the acclaim that surrounded 1993's August and Everything After, or perhaps just maybe more of the same. Their debut was very much a summer record; a blend of acoustic guitars and mandolins layered beneath Adum Duritz's floating voice. It was Duritz's striking vocal depth which gave the first album it's identity. Recovering the Satellites doesn't rely so heavily on Duritz vocal talent. From the very outset- the haunting organ that opens Catapault- this album is built on a range of musical experiments that range from the heavy guitar rock of Angels of the Silences- the first single- to the dry modern folk of Millers Angels. This is a dark record, the lyrics read like a collection of ghost stories and the haunting vocal finds it's proper home in the heavier overall sound. The songwriting only slips a little when it descends into country, but this only happens once (on Daylight Fading, another UK single release)otherwise the record stays away from the twanging guitars that betray the bands mid-western origins. Overall Recovering the Satellites is a very well written, performed and produced record (Listen for the spiralling stereo guitar on the title track) and evidence that old musicians in a young band can be a formula for critical success, even if the misplaced publicity campaign over here destroyed any chance of a commercial one. Some better chosen simgles and Counting Crows might have enjoyed a larger slice of the limelight they deserve.
on 23 February 2010
Having purchased this CD when it was released in 1999, it is without doubt one of my favourite recordings (by any band), one that I always come back to every now and again, but always enjoy more than the last time.
There are so many great tracks on this album, and the instruments are layered beautifully and blend seamlessly. Each track sets a different mood and the tempo's are varied, which in my humble opinion puts it above "August & Everything After" on which certain tracks can appear a little to familiar to the last.
It really seemed to be a natural progression for Counting Crows and one that shows a great maturity.
A must buy for any fan of great music.
This 1996 effort was Counting Crows second album, the follow-up to their debut masterpiece August And Ever After, and whilst it does not quite match the earlier album there is enough rhythm and soul here, particularly from Adam Duritz's vocals, to warrant a top rating. If anything, the sound on Recovering The Satellites is even more expansive than the debut, no doubt related to the recent addition of Dan Vickrey to the band thus turning them into a 6-piece outfit, but the band still find room (and inspiration) to also include here some exceptionally sparse and exquisite ballads. Stylistically, the band continue to operate in the area inhabited by the likes of Dylan, Springsteen, Van Morrison, Graham Parker, REM, etc, but this album probably represents the band at their most diverse, from soulful ballads through to heavier, wall-of-sound effects (the album's title song springs to mind in this respect).
Duritz's lyrics are also nicely poetic, very personal and morose at times certainly, but with elements of humour thrown in. Of the 14 songs included, there are probably a couple that do not (for me) hit the mark (Monkey and Another Horsedreamer's Blues spring to mind) but these weaknesses are far outweighed by the album's highpoints. These include the vibrant power of mid-tempo songs such Children In Bloom, Have You Seen Me Lately?, the album's title song, and, best of all in this category, I'm Not Sleeping, on which Duritz turns in one of his most impassioned vocal performances on the subject of unrequited love (certainly his pet subject). Ballad-wise, this album includes two of this (or any) band's finest examples in the accordion-accompanied lament for lost love, A Long December (for me, highly reminiscent of Springsteen's Independence Day) and, even better, Miler's Angels, on which Duritz's vocal, particularly towards the fadeout, is almost unbearably fragile.
But, saving the best till last, it is Angel Of The Silences that takes my top honours. Not only is this my favourite song on this album, it is also my favourite ever Counting Crows song, and, perhaps remarkably, it is also one of their most atypical, being a straight-ahead (almost punk-like) barrage of noise (actually bringing to mind one of bands thanked on the sleeve of this album, namely The Replacements). Lyrically, this is also one of Guritz's best ever efforts, brilliantly conjuring up a guilt-ridden dream experience ('I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed, little angels hang above my head and read me like an open book'). In order to see what this band were capable of at their very best, catch the Jools Holland show live version of this on Youtube (just watch Dan Vickrey go!) - simply awe-inspiring.
Along with the August And Ever After debut album, my favourite album by these leading purveyors of rock and soul.
on 28 November 1999
Those who have August will find this album much heavier. However, with brilliant tracks like 'Angels Of The Silences, 'Goodnight Elizabeth', and especially 'A Long December', this is not a bad thing. It is a long album, but you can never have too many tracks from a band like Counting Crows, as each track is so different. Another great album from the Crows.
on 31 May 2013
No album had any chance of being appreciated at its proper value after August and Everything After. And Recovering the Satellites was no exception. And what a mistake that is: some of the best work is included in this album: goodnight elisabeth introduced a recurring female presence in adam's song (i wish i was a girl from this desert's life was the continuation of that story); miller's angels; recovering the satellites, and the classic now a long december. This album is a lot rockier, and as such a departure for the Counting Crows but not in a way that alienates the true fan. What is true about this album though is that it matures with age, like good wine, and so you need a multitude of listening to uncover the various layers of these songs and appreciate them. with the 15 years anniversary of this album, it is time to revisit it and appreciate it for what it really is: a jewel
on 21 March 2000
many, when asked claim for this album to be not as good as the first, august and everything after. it depends on how you look at it. no, it is not like august and everything after, musically, it is much better. the songs are more complex, tunes are varied, but the same passion, the same feel, the same emotions are there waiting to take you away. Adam and his merry men have once again produced an album of utter class, and brilliance, where they show how far, as a band they have come. the sad song 'millers angels', is beautiful, where as 'have you seen me lately' and 'angels of the silences' are angry howls of a song. and one of their most underrated songs 'recoveing the satellites' just has a bit of everything. once again, the word perfection is all that needs to be said