The Black Crowes: Croweology

By James Calemine

Croweology represents live acoustic versions of The Black Crowes most revered material from the last 20 years. This collection contains all original Crowes songs except for a cover of Gram Parsons’ “She”. However, there are no songs from the band’s last two studio records—Warpaint and Before The Frost—on Croweology.

The two aforementioned albums were recorded with guitarist Luther Dickinson in the band. Dickinson plays guitar on Croweology and it would have been interesting to hear a couple songs from those records. Que sera, sera. Chris & Rich Robinson still write all the songs. Steve Gorman (drums), Sven Pippien (bass) and Adam MacDougall (keyboards) compose the rest of the group’s formidable line-up. Shake Your Money Maker’s “Jealous Again” opens Croweology, which counts as the Crowes first ‘hit’. These songs, arranged for acoustic adaptation, allow for a fresh interpretation of familiar tunes for fans.

Three Snakes & One Charm’s “Share The Ride” sounds like Appalachian mountain music. “Remedy” from The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion adheres to the original version for the most part. Amorica’s “Nonfiction” exudes a medicinal quality in its wise instrumentation. “Hotel Illness” provides a glimpse into The Crowes’ gritty sound, songwriting and saga.

The track from the album Lions, “Soul Singing” reiterates the songwriting and guitar talents of Rich Robinson. “Ballad In Urgency” and “Wiser Time” still evoke smoke rings of the mind for Crowes fans who can remember the group back in 1995. “Cold Boy Smile” counts as the only original track not recorded on an album. Available on Brothers of A Feather, this song retains a moody sonic landscape that emerges as one of the collection’s dark horse tunes.

The majestic “Under A Mountain” never disappoints, and this version only verifies the song’s glory. “She Talks To Angels” still sounds good as it did in 1990. “My Morning Song” proves to be one of Croweology’s strongest tracks that emits a soulful-gospel spirit compared to the relentless electric original. “Downtown Money Waster” indicates why The Crowes’ originals always revolved around old blues, country and vintage rock & roll tones due to their appreciation for the oldest American music traditions. “Good Friday” transfers well on Croweology since it’s an acoustic-based song anyway.

“Thorn In My Pride” serves as another example of Rich Robinson’s ability to craft timeless riffs around his brother’s memorable verses. By Your Side’s “Welcome To The Good Times” stands as an under-rated ditty from the catalogue. “Girl From A Pawnshop” retains the original’s melancholy farewell sentiment augmented by mandolins on this recording.

“Sister Luck” allows a more organic dynamic of the song to breathe. This collection pays for itself with the brilliant version of Gram Parsons’ “She”. This release may be the last we hear from The Black Crowes for a while. After this fall’s ‘Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys’ tour, the band will take an indefinite hiatus. Croweology captures these black birds in mid-flight on a long, interesting journey…