Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year End Review: The Black Crowes - Before The Frost...Until The Freeze

Back at the beginning of September, The Black Crowes released their latest record, Before The Frost...Until The Freeze. Prior to the records release, I'd heard "I Ain't Hiding" and got a bit excited. My first thought was, glory be, they're going to get back to the more funky and just outright rockin' stuff. While that song wasn't up there with some of their classic songs of yore, it made me look forward to the upcoming release.

The record came out. I opened up the package and the first thing I notice is, it's a mini replica of a vinyl LP. The casing looks and maneuvers like album covers from back in the day. The CD even comes in a paper sleeve and the disc itself looks like a vinyl record. Nice. It got me feeling all nostalgic and remembering the delightful Three Snakes vinyl 45 singles box set. Y'all remember that box? It also made me sad thinking about the flooded basement destruction of that box set and about 95% of my other Crowes collectibles but, I digress. Anyway, the record is broken into two parts. Before The Frost... and the bonus download ...Until The Freeze.

I popped the disc in. It opens with "Good Morning Captain" which I enjoyed but immediately thought, well, that's not a rocker! "Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)" the second track comes on and is my favorite song on the disc. Nope, that's not a rocker either. As things go on, I begin to wonder how the hell "I Ain't Hiding" fits. Well, it doesn't, not really. I suppose it fits in, in the sense that The Crowes are diverse musicians and aren't hindered by genre labels which is something I always loved about them, especially live. I guess it also fits in the sense that it reminds me of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and some of their earlier stuff reminds me of Stewart ... "Charming Mess" springs to mind. To this day, I still expect to hear Stewart's voice instead of Chris Robinson's when I hear that song. Did I digress again?

"Make Glad" comes the closest to the classic, funky, rockin' Crowes of days gone by. It comes in a close second to being my favorite track on the album. Brace yourselves, I'm going to have one of my questionable comparison moments right now. "And The Band Played On" sounds like some bizarre cross of Little Feat, Led Zeppelin and ELO. Honestly, I can't even tell you how I feel about that song. Before The Frost... ends with "The Last Place That Love Lives" which doesn't do much for me but it's the perfect song to lead you into the bonus ...Until The Freeze portion of the record. That portion of the record kicks off with "Aimless Peacock" which sounds like Uncle Jed went to India to record a record. Were their hookah's involved in the creation of that song? Okay, perhaps that's a bit harsh. My favorite song on that portion of the disc is, "Greenhorn" ... lovin' the guitar work on that one. "Garden Gate" does a nice job of reminding me of Flatt & Scruggs. But honestly, I'd rather slap on the brilliant At Carnegie Hall! instead of hearing The Crowes remind me of them. Maybe down the line I'll toss it on and will feel differently, but right now, I ain't really feelin' the second portion of the record.

The Black Crowes are still a stellar band. Overall, Before The Frost...Until The Freeze is a good record. I without a doubt like it better than Warpaint which I'm still not feeling any love for. But, I prefer them to rock, roll and burn with all of their funky, bluesy, rockin' might.

Track Listing
Before The Frost… (CD Track Listing)
  • Good Morning Captain
  • Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)
  • Appaloosa
  • A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound
  • I Ain’t Hiding
  • Kept My Soul
  • What Is Home
  • Houston Don’t Dream About Me
  • Make Glad
  • And The Band Played On
  • Last Place That Love Lives
…Until The Freeze (Free Download Album Track Listing)
  • Aimless Peacock
  • Shady Grove
  • Garden Gate
  • Greenhorn
  • Shine Along
  • Roll Old Jeremiah
  • Lady Of Avenue A
  • So Many Times
  • Fork In The River