Lost Crowes

The Lost Crowes

4.0 1
by The Black Crowes
     
 
Few bands have an archive quite as far-reaching as these inveterate freak-flag flyers. The Black Crowes have recorded entire albums -- 1993's Tall and 1997's Band come to mind -- that they've opted to shelve, sometimes retooling the contents for later discs, sometimes not. The Lost Crowes is divided pretty evenly between tunes from the two

Overview

Few bands have an archive quite as far-reaching as these inveterate freak-flag flyers. The Black Crowes have recorded entire albums -- 1993's Tall and 1997's Band come to mind -- that they've opted to shelve, sometimes retooling the contents for later discs, sometimes not. The Lost Crowes is divided pretty evenly between tunes from the two aforementioned sessions, the former dominated by edgy, hard-rocking material, the latter given over to the good-vibe mood the Robinson brothers slipped into after Three Snakes and One Charm. Demos of seven songs that ultimately made it onto Amorica surface here, but unlike many similarly configured discs, these first stabs differ palpably from the better-known versions: Rich Robinson has a far more unrestrained tone, on "A Conspiracy," for instance, while brother Chris waxes ragged-but-right on "Cursed Diamond." Even more intriguing is "Lowdown," a mournful, yet melodic slow-burner that would later be retooled as "Ballad in Urgency." The '97 sessions capture a much different side of the Crowes -- one that's dominated by Chris Robinson's increasingly bucolic worldview, and the whole band's gradual move away from barroom grit and toward a warmer sort of Americana. Again, it's interesting to hear embryonic versions of songs that would evolve into something else entirely -- particularly the bleary "If It Ever Stops Raining," which came to light as the title track to 1999's By Your Side. Several of these tracks would become staples of the Crowes' live shows -- to this day, the sinewy "Paint an 8" and the burnished "Another Roadside Tragedy" crop up regularly on set lists -- but hearing them in studio form is bracing. Dyed-in-the-wool Crowe-philes will like the way The Lost Crowes encourages those games of sonic connect-the-dots, but one needn't be that immersed to fall under the spell of these heady offerings.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Lost Crowes is right -- only hardcore fans will know of the music on this two-CD set, and even then, chances are they haven't heard it. And it's not like this is an odds-n-sods collection of outtakes and B-sides, either: The Lost Crowes contains two complete unreleased albums called Tall and Band, recorded in 1993 and 1997, respectively, but in the vaults until now. They're interesting companion pieces, too, since they not only have different feels but were shelved for different reasons. Tall metamorphosed into the sprawling 1994 masterpiece Amorica, with a handful of its songs popping up elsewhere, including 1996's Three Snakes and One Charm; Band was simply left behind as the group moved on to By Your Side. Not surprisingly, Tall sounds like a rough draft of Amorica; a lot of the ideas are in place, along with such Crowes classics as "A Conspiracy," "Wiser Time," "Nonfiction," and "Cursed Diamond," but the sound isn't as full-bodied, nor is the band as wooly. This means Tall isn't as rich or robust as Amorica, but it's sure interesting to hear the roots of that album, and the previously unheard songs from these sessions -- such as the dirty funk of "Tied Up and Swallowed," the lazy hillbilly roll of "Thunderstorm 6:54," and the sweet acoustic "Tornado" -- fit into the cross-stitched fabric of Amorica quite well. There's a seed of a great album in Tall and the Crowes found that seed and made it grow for Amorica; this may not be as good -- and it's understandable why it was reworked -- but it's certainly worthwhile for any fan to hear. If Tall did indeed need some reworking before it was released to the general public, it's a mystery why the band didn't release Band as is in 1997. Sonically falling halfway between the ragged Amorica and the hard-edged Three Snakes, this is a great Crowes album showcasing their skills as songwriters and as a loose yet muscular jam band. On the fringes of this album there is some country and the band does stretch out to improvise, but it never feels aimless, because there is an immediacy to the performances and because there are some terrific songs that center the album in a way that was lacking on Three Snakes. There is a hard-driving R&B and soul vibe here, ranging from the churning down-home funk of "Another Roadside Tragedy" and "Never Forget This Song" to the relaxed Faces-styled groove of "If It Ever Stops Raining," which is complemented by the few country flourishes, such as the mandolins on "Lifevest" or the high lonesome fiddles of "My Heart's Killing Me." This is the Black Crowes at their best, turning out classicist rock that flows so natural and easy it feels like these songs have always existed. It would have been great to have Band out in 1997, but having it arrive about ten years later only emphasizes how classic the Crowes sound at their peak, since it doesn't sound like a revival: it sounds like part of a tradition. And thankfully that tradition now contains these two albums, which do rank among the more interesting (Tall) and best (Band) records they've ever done.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/26/2006
Label:
Rhino
UPC:
0081227477127
catalogNumber:
74771

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Black Crowes   Primary Artist
Eric Bobo   Percussion
Johnny Colt   Group Member
Steve Gorman   Group Member
Eddie Harsch   Group Member
Bruce Kaphan   Pedal Steel Guitar
Gary Louris   Background Vocals
Erica Newell   Background Vocals
Chris Robinson   Group Member
Andy Sturmer   Background Vocals
Karen Grotberg   Background Vocals
Rich Robinson   Group Member
Marc Ford   Group Member

Technical Credits

Black Crowes   Producer
David Leonard   Engineer
Mike Wanchic   Engineer
Sean O'Dwyer   Engineer
Amy Finkle   Art Direction
Jim Mitchell   Engineer
Alan Forbes   Illustrations
Howell Luther   Engineer
Vincent Marshal   Engineer
Rich Robinson   Composer

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The Lost Crowes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great album! I have listened to it repeatedly. Lots of different grooves and the vibe is just awesome.