He’s in a successful band, he’s married to Kate Hudson, and now Chris Robinson wants you to come join him and The Black Crowes tonight at the Civic Center. Tickets are still available for a concert that promises over two hours of classic Black Crowes music and special guests The Beachwood Sparks.
The Black Crowes have built a successful 17-year career playing music that pays homage to the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart while successfully incorporating southern-tinged classic rock into the equation. Formed in Atlanta in 1984, the Crowes have had their share of hits and misses, have been examined on VH1’s “Behind The Music” and have sold more than 8 million records.
The band’s 1990 debut, Shake Your Money Maker, was a solid introduction to the Black Crowes southernized version of the Rolling Stones. When the first single, “Jealous Again,” made only a moderate splash, critics presumed that perhaps music fans were not ready for the Crowes blend of soulful rock. The critics were wrong, as the Crowes’ cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle” transformed the band into a five-time platinum act. “She Talks To Angels” followed as the next single and made a splash on the charts when “Hard To Handle” had run its course.
By the spring of 1992, the Crowes delivered their second album, titled The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, which was marked by the singles “Thorn In My Pride” and “Remedy.” Although highly anticipated, the album failed to live up to the sales of its predecessor but nonetheless sold over 2 million copies. The album Amorica got more press because of its controversial cover art than its music, and 1996’s Three Snakes and One Charm quickly slipped off the charts.
The Black Crowes have continued to make their mark on the musical world, though, and in the past year they have made a strong recovery. Their latest disc, Lions, is a solid piece of work full of melodic rock that blends soul, jam-band rock, classic riffs and a bit of modern punch that stands as one of the finest albums in the Crowes growing catalogue. Following tremendous crowd responses to the material from Lions on their Brotherly Love Tour this past summer with Oasis and Spacehog, the Crowes decided to let the touring resume this fall with Madison as one of the several stops.
Lions kicks off with the squeal of feedback before Rich Robinson and Steve Gorman begin a mid-tempo jam on the lead track, “Midnight From the Inside Out.” The track continues with distorted guitars before Chris Robinson kicks in with his unmistakable vocals. The track is hard classic rock and gets Lions off to a solid start.
At the second “Midnight From the Inside Out” ends, the escalating choppy chords of “Lickin'” kick in, and on the up-tempo chorus Robinson sings, “night and day like a mule I’m kickin’/ girl you gonna catch a lickin’.” The song eventually breaks down into a sing-along jam with everyone singing, “catch a lickin’.”
“Come On” has a high-energy Rolling Stones influence all over it, but the band plays it with a style that is all the Black Crowes. Bits of southern soul are sprinkled across the track. The guitars are much more aggressive and hard-hitting compared with the majority of Lions. The hard-hitting guitars on the earlier portion of the record may be a bit of a surprise to fans of the Crowes’ earlier work.
“No Use Lying” is the unquestionably best track on the album. Opening with the distorted wah-wah’s of Rich Robinson’s guitars, the track quickly moves into watery guitar lines that are interrupted by heavy bar chords and a simple drum beat. Chris Robinson enters with soft vocals, singing, “you come in the room and you close the door/ and you let me see what you’re really here for.” The incredible melody on the track shows that the Crowes still have the goods to impress critics and sell records.
Lions is a fine album that should be listened to and enjoyed in its entirety. The 13 tracks on Lions have given The Black Crowes a much needed career boost, and tonight’s show will certainly delight.