Album: The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.
Mannnn, I hated the Black Crowes when they came out. Shake Your Moneymaker was a huge huge record in 1990, and its huge popularity vis-a-vis what I saw as its complete derivativeness (derivativity?) rubbed me the wrong way. They were being held up as the standard-bearer of rock & roll, and in my eyes, they clearly weren’t, even in what was an admittedly down period.
Here’s a typical drunken rant at a Sedan Delivery rehearsal that was caught on tape:
“But the thing I don’t understand, I’ve seen two articles in the last week bringing up the Black Crowes as the Last Rock & Roll Band, and then dissing ‘em!!! Because they know they SUCK! They know that in terms of advancing rock & roll, which any rock & roll band should try, at least try to do, because they’re not doing anything new!! And that’s the point! The point is that they’re saying that this is IT!! This is the BEST that rock & roll can do!”
I didn’t believe that then, of course — there was plenty of great rock & roll being made in 1990, and 1991 would prove to be my favorite year in music ever — but nearly a quarter-century later, with rock & roll essentially dead as a popular art form, the Black Crowes are still at it, and I now see the Robinson brothers as true believers doing what they love instead pretenders making a quick buck.
The long road from that initial contempt to at least a grudging respect started when — based upon some good reviews — I took a flyer and bought a used copy of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion at Ragin’ and felt the shock of recognition hearing the chord changes of “Hotel Illness.”
It’s just that simple: “Hotel Illness” targets my Rolling Stones’ based pleasure center like Oliver Queen on a tear, and I can’t imagine myself not liking a song like this And since one of my cardinal rules is that I even an artist I completely hate can make a song I completely love, I was forced to admit that maybe I was initially wrong about them.
The Black Crowes performing “Hotel Illness” in Houston, 1993
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: