By now, it is common knowledge that Chris Robinson is one hundred percent done with The Black Crowes. It appears as if he will never be coming back to the fold of this great band. And with that, his brother Rich is committed to carrying on The Black Crowes tradition with his newly formed band "The Magpie Salute". This new group featuring fellow Crowe's alumni Marc Ford and Sven Pipien has already played four sold out shows at The Gramercy Theatre in New York City. The future is looking bright for these guys. As expected, the nightly set lists were heavy with deep tracks from the legendary Crowes catalog, and hopefully, an album of all new material is in the works. Fingers crossed as always.
This brings me to the sophomore album by The Black Crowes "The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion". This is a copy of the excellent 180-gram reissue that came out last year. It's the first time this album has been released on double vinyl, and it sounds fantastic! I was a first-week buyer when the original was released in May of 1992, so this is definitely the music of my youth. The music is just as fresh and relevant as ever and is now a classic of the 1990's. I remember, that upon first listen, I was a bit surprised how the sound of the band had changed. The evolution of this young band was forthright and sincere. Chris Robinson elaborated on the creative process for SHAMC in a 1992 Guitar Magazine interview:
" I mixed "Thorn In My Pride' with our engineer Brendan at the Record Plant- and I
hated it," says Chris."They had this huge board with digital
computers and shit, which Brendan loves.Forget it, I went over
to Hollywood Sound, got on that little Nerve board, and hot-mixed
the whole rest of the album in one evening.What else do you
need?"According to Chris, that's why their records sound different
on radio."I don't have an ear for hit records," he admits."That's
the only reason we're any good- we don't know what the fuck we're
doing, we just do it.You can analyze it all later."
The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion was recorded in Atlanta Georgia at Southern Tracks Recording on analog tape. It was produced by George Drakoulias and engineered by the now famous Brendan O' Brien. The recording sessions were done mostly live and took around eight days to complete. Often times, this album is considered The Black Crowes blues record and takes the spirit and enthusiasm from some of the classic blues artists that came before them. However, I will not join in with some of the short sighted criticisms that this record received when it was contemporary. Who listens to music critics anyway right? I never have, and you shouldn't either! This album is an all original masterpiece, aside from one ballsy Bob Marley cover. Songs such as Remedy, Thorn In My Pride, and Sometimes Salvation were the bonafide hits, but the deep tracks are what became the live classics from the touring band. If you haven't heard it, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this latest reissue. Done from the original source tapes, and pressed onto excellent 180-gram, it sounds better than ever.
The Magpie Salute is on tour now so if you get a chance then go see them. This is the only band now playing this material live, and they are doing an excellent job tipping their hat to the excellent past of The Black Crowes. I can wait to hear what the future holds for these musicians who created one of the best rock albums of the 90's. Stay tuned.