Monday, January 11, 2010

2009: The Round Up

#9. The Black Crowes - Before the Frost... Until the Freeze
(Silver Arrow Records, 2009)



This album has been issued as a single album on cd, with a download code to a bonus album, and as a double album on vinyl. My review or more exact, the one I have had in concideration for this round up is the double vinyl version. The single cd is called Before the Frost... and as a whole double album it is called Before the Frost... Until the Freeze. Well, there we have that little issue out of the way. Onwards, to the music.

The brothers Robinson took their band and went of to visit good ol' Levon Helm up in his studio-home in Woodstock, NY. The thing they did was that they had a bunch of new songs, some finished, others just started and they played them for a live audience in Levon Helm's studio. So this album is a kind of live in the studio album. It may sound like a hassle but for the Black Crowes I believe it was just what they needed. Although they have made many a good album in their time I have always looked upon them as a better live band. Sort of like the Grateful Dead in a way. That they really come up with their a-game when there are an audience in place.

The Before the Frost... part of the album consists of the more typical Black Crowes songs. The barroom rocker "Good Morning Captain" and the great americana-like "Appaloosa". Still the feeling is that the Black Crowes are coming more into their own now, they embrace the more rootsy songs in a away they only sort of has done earlier. And that's what the ..Until the Freeze part of the album really shows off, with more acoustic songs. Some even straight forward country songs.

That said, I really think you should get the vinyl copy of this album On the vinyl the two albums are mixed together instead of being two entities of their own.

Standout tracks for me are the already mentioned "Appaloosa", the CSN-ish Rich Robinson sung "What is Home?", "A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound" and "And the Band Played On".

The fantastic pedal-steel on several tracks are courtesy of the great Larry Campbell who has been playing with Bob Dylan the later years.

Did I mention that Chris Robinson sounds as good as ever and still is the coolest guy on the planet.



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