On its original release, the Black Crowe’s record label, Def American, released the band’s second album on a single LP. At fifty minutes, it’s pushing it, and as a result the record has always sounded a little flat. The same can be said for Stone Temple Pilot’s Core, another 50-minute 1992 release that was originally relegated to just two sides.
Cut to twenty-five years later, and finally a shiny 2xLP reissue is released. I couldn’t be more excited. Finally, I will be able to retire my single-disc original copy, for a better sounding version. Right?
Wrong. The 2xLP reissue sounds a little better, but nowhere near as good as it could be. With the amount of dead-wax on each of the album’s four sides, they could easily have cut it at 45rpm, with nice, fat grooves. Instead, they seem to just have put two songs on each side without improving the quality of the sound. So, it’s much the same listening experience as my 1992 copy, except that I have to get up to flip sides more often. Grrr, first world problems and all that. I’ll patiently wait for the 45rpm half-speed master, cut at Abbey Road…
Still, audio-fidelity aside, it’s a wonderful album. While the Seattle bands were doing their thing in the Pacific North-West, the Black Crowes recorded an album of southern-fried rock ‘n roll that belonged more in the 1970s than the present day. It’s closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin than any of their contemporaries, and owes everything to that decade of rock music.
Remedy, the album’s centrepiece, will always remind me of Dustan Chiasson, the Louisiana guitarist I met in Manchester in the mid-2000s. We tried to put a blues-boogie band together, and Remedy was the first song we played together. Acoustic guitar to acoustic guitar, sat opposite each other in his Old Trafford apartment.
A lot of people seem to prefer the Black Crowe’s more energetic debut, Shake Your Money Maker, but the follow-up is easily the better album. It’s far more mature in songwriting, production and performance, and while the first album showed a band of cocky upstarts, this one seems to follow through on that arrogance. They were sure of themselves all that time, because they had an album this good inside them.
Hidden Gem: Thorn In My Pride