Classic Rock Review

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The Black Crowes Southern Harmony & Musical Companion (1992)


Review When The Crowes hired guitarist Marc Ford just before this album was recorded, they gave him something like 30 songs to learn, but when he showed up for the first day of sessions, lo and behold, he found that Chris and Rich had scrapped all those songs an had rewritten the whole album in two weekends. They proceeded to record the entire deal in eight days, and after some aggrivating attempts at mixing, Chris took the album home and “hot mixed” it in one night.

Four days writing, eight days recording, and one all night mix. This is what rock is all about. The finished product is a masterpiece, and all in a fortnight.

Rather than rehashing which songs are which, it is better to point out the fact that this is a heavily themed album. There are stings, thorns, illness and bad luck, but there are also remedies, harmony and salvation. This album cuts to the core of life, where everything can seem to be right, yet still falls apart, and where perspective is maintained and salvation is found. As they quote Bob M, “Think you’re in Heaven, but you’re livin’ in Hell”

When baby bands come out with their sophomore effort, it often falls flat (to put it mildly), but the Crowes were in their finest form on this one, proving that the “Stones Clones” can in fact forge their own way. Although I am a massive fan of the ’67-72 Stones, I challenge anyone to find Mick singing the blues better than Chris on “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes Goodbye”, or injecting more venom than is on “No Speak No Slave”. Well, Mick’s venom is pretty thick on “Turd On The Run” I’ll admit. But I digress…

This gospel tinged diamond of rock and roll has lived up to its name better than any other album in my life. In the last twelve years it has certainly been by best ‘companion’.
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a new best friend with “Harmony”. If you have a soul, “My Morning Song” will change your life.

If I could give it six stars, I wouldn’t hesitate.

Review Yes, that’s rawk, not just rock, but rawk.

From beginning to end, this album blew me away the first time I heard it, and about 1,000 listens later, now that I’ve heard and realized many of the album’s intricacies that were apparent on first listen, it blows me away even more now. Listen to the intro and through the first verse of Sting Me, the first song, and you’ll swear you’re listening to the Rolling Stones, with a different, more soulful singer (Chris Robinson). However, these guys can rock in more way than one, which they immediately prove in the next song, Remedy, which has to be my personal favourite Crowes song, with it’s incredibly catchy, hard-driven guitar from Rich Robinson, and a great performance from the always superb Chris.

The album then mellows down only slightly for the next four songs, but the volume drop only serves to enhance Chris’s down-home Southern soul-filled singing, and some incredible lead guitar from Marc Ford, who isn’t with the Crowes anymore, but proves here to be an awesome, underrated soloist with a very unique style. Then comes the 7-8-9 combo of Black Moon Creeping, No Speak No Slave, and My Morning Song, which, in my opinion is one of the best 1-2-3 punches for pure rock value in history; think Whole Lotta Love-What Is & What Should Never Be-Heartbreaker from Led Zeppelin II in terms of how hard these three songs rock.

As one critic said, Black Moon Creeping features the dirtiest, nastiest guitar tone ever put on vinyl, with a bass-heavy, heavily distorted wah giving the song great grit. However, this tone compares nothing to the wah tone on the following song, No Speak No Slave, during the solo. I literally jumped out of my chair when I heard the wah section of the solo on this track for the first time; absolutely must be heard to be believed.

The entire song, No Speak No Slave, in fact, needs to be heard; sounds like Zeppelin in their prime. My Morning Song rocks just as hard, and after these three songs you need a break, so the low-key cover of Bob Marley’s Time Will Tell will provide you with that to close off the album, reminding you that not only do these guys rawk, but they make music you can feel, with Southern soul, which is what Marley had, and is what the Crowes add to not just this track but the whole album. This album, in my opinion, deserves to be right up there with the great rock albums of all time, i.e. Led Zeppelin IV, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, etc.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | The Black Crowes Southern Harmony & Musical Companion | | Leave a comment