Friday, March 28, 2008

The Black Crowes: Warpaint

Angelus Entertainment

I'll admit my musical tastes run toward the old-school, being that I am old-school. Hey, let's call a spade a spade: I'm old. That said, I still love rock n' roll, and I've always loved the Black Crowes for carrying on the tradition of full-tilt boogie originated by the Stones, the Faces, and Humble Pie.

It's been seven years since the last Crowes' studio album, Lions, and the 2001 "Tour of Brotherly Love" with Oasis. In the interim, Chris Robinson married Kate Hudson and fathered a child, the band broke up, Chris and Rich released solo records, Chris and Kate's marriage broke up, the band reunited for a series of critically acclaimed live performances featuring the classic line-up from the Southern Harmony and Musical Companion era, then set out to make this album. In the process, longtime Crowes Marc Ford and Eddie Harsch were replaced by guitarslinger Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and organist Adam MacDougall, respectively.

While it doesn't reach the heights of the band's first three albums, there is much to recommend about Warpaint. The production, courtesy of Paul Stacey, is crisp, clean, and heavy in the right places. The playing is spirited, and while the lyrics contain the usual drug-inspired cliches, they also carry a good deal of emotional weight, as Chris wears his heartbreak on his sleeve on songs like "Oh Josephine" and "Wounded Bird." While his post-divorce blues make for perhaps one too many ballads-in-urgency, there are more than enough rockers for the faithful.

The opening cut, "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution" sets the tone with the Crowes' characteristic blend of
stoned sloganeering and crunchy slide guitars, while a stomping cover of Reverend Charlie Jackson's gospel classic "God's Got It" is my personal favorite on the disc.

20 years into their career, the Black Crowes are still delivering the goods, bloody but unbowed, a vanishing breed still dealing in boozy, bluesy Southern rock that kicks out the jams righteously.

Long may they fly.

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