Essential Listening: Black Crowes – Live At The Greek (CD)

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Live At The Greek (CD)

This excellent broadcast recording preserves a great show performed by The Black Crowes at Los Angeles famous Greek Theatre, in Griffith Park, during their first headlining US tour in the summer of 1991. The band were originally formed in Marietta, Georgia - just two years before - by brothers Rich (guitar) and Chris (vocals) Robinson. The Crowes had evolved from the brothers first serious musical foray, an outfit called Mr. Crowe s Garden, who made their debut in 1984 having been influenced by local heroes R.E.M., 60 s pysch-pop and southern rock.

By the late 1980 s however, the group had come to specialise in a rich seam of classic blues-rock in the tradition of prime English exponents like The Rolling Stones, The Faces and Free and home-grown acts such as The Allman Brothers, Little Feat and The Band. The Black Crowes were signed by Rick Rubin s recently-formed Def American record label in 1989.

Their debut album Shake Your Money Maker , released in February 1990, was an absolute corker and became the label s first major success. The record went on to become a massive seller and has since been certified quintuple platinum by the RIAA. Rolling Stone magazine s review hailed it as the kind of streamlined, supertight groove album that bar-band dreams are made of and proclaimed that The Black Crowes aren t merely trying to reinvent the Faces ginsoaked rock; instead, they manage to reinvest it with innocent fervor and a swaggering grace .

At the time of this recording, the Crowes were still promoting their debut (their second album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion would not be released for almost another year, in May 1992) and it is heavily featured in this set, which includes live versions of eight of the album s eleven tracks. The band also released a plethora of songs from the record as singles including Jealous Again, Seeing Things and Twice As Hard. The most successful of all, however, were their cover of Otis Redding s Hard To Handle and the brothers Robinson s own She Talks To Angels, both of which hit the No.1 spot on Billboard s Mainstream Rock Chart. It was also largely due to the success of Hard To Handle that the host album was propelled into the Top Ten.

The Black Crowes pay tribute to one of their most influential forebears and fellow southerners, The Allman Brothers, by virtue of a cover of Gregg Allman s Dreams, a highlight of that band s 1969 debut album. The band also acknowledge their debt to other elder statesmen via the inclusion of The Beatles Get Back and bluesmen Mississippi Fred McDowell s Walk With Jesus and Bukka White s Shake Em On Down in a lengthy medley. The remaining song in tonight s performance, You re Wrong, was never released by The Black Crowes as a studio recording and is really a different, early version of Sting Me, which was destined to appear on 1992 s Southern Harmony album and was also released as a single.

Almost ten years after this performance, the Black Crowes returned to the Greek in 2000 to record a live album - this time alongside one of their all-time heroes, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, with whom the group were then touring - and almost exclusively consisting of covers of Zep numbers.

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