Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Black Crowes - Before The Frost...Until The Freeze

Release Date: August 31, 2009
Label: Silver Arrow

Lately, I've been on a huge Black Crowes kick.   I have been a casual Crowes fan since about when Lions (2001) came out, and that, Shake Your Money Maker, and The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion have been hanging out in my collection for years.  If you don't know the Crowes, they're known for their fairly straightforward blues rock, with a bit of a southern flavor.  Early in their career, they had considerable success, and even toured with Jimmy Page in the late 90s.

The Crowes seem to have always been interested in some degree of experimentation, but it seemed their record company (American) didn't enjoy it quite so much.  When Amorica and Three Snakes And A Charm started to stray a bit, they were reigned in, and we got By Your Side.  They then reversed course, and Lions was a little weird, followed by a hiatus.  When they reunited and recorded Warpaint, they used very few takes, little to no overdubs, and even recorded one song outdoors.  This brings us to their latest non-compilation "studio" album, 2009's Before The Frost...Until The Freeze.

BTF...UTF was recorded live, in front of an audience of a couple hundred fans, in a converted barn in Woodstock, NY.  I'm not familiar with the details of the recording process (e.g., whether they used any overdubs to correct mistakes), but this certainly does give it a bit of a live atmosphere, although you might not know it if they hadn't left in the applause between tracks.

levon helm's barn
Levon Helm's studio, where the recording took place
This recording is technically two albums.  When you pick up the physical product at the store, you get Before The Frost... in the cardboard sleeve, which comes with a card that allows you to download ...Until The Freeze from The Black Crowes' website.  Before The Frost... gives us a fairly typical Black Crowes, with their signature style of blues rock.  It is a bit more experimental than we're used to: I Ain't Hiding has a disco feel to it, and there is some folk influence in there as well.

...Until The Freeze, in contrast, has almost no rock, and is essentially a folk album, with a slight bluegrass influence.  Contrary to what some perhaps less adventurous Crowes fans might say, it is my opinion that this disc is what makes Before The Frost...Until The Freeze the penultimate album of the Crowes' career.  This is what truly demonstrates their creative ability, and their aptitude for writing timeless tunes that don't adhere to a worn out formula.  Repetition is something they may have been guilty of in the past, but there is none of that here.

The Crowes' have supplemented this newfound folk sound with a complete acoustic reworking of all their hits in 2010's Croweology, but that's a subject for another review.

Track List:
Before The Frost...

1Good Morning Captain3:24
2Been a Long Time (Waiting on Love)7:47
4A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound4:23
5I Aint Hiding5:57
6Kept My Soul5:23
7What Is Home?5:13
8Houston Don't Dream About Me5:05
9Make Glad4:18
10And the Band Played on...4:12
11The Last Place That Love Lives4:57

...Until The Freeze
1Aimless Peacock6:40
2The Shady Grove4:42
3The Garden Gate4:21
5Shine Along4:47
6Roll Old Jeremiah4:40
7Lady of Ave. A5:20
8So Many Times4:53
9Fork in the River4:11

The vinyl edition came with the tracks in an alternate order; this is said to be the real intended order of the tracks.  I recommend listening to the album in this order.  In this presentation, there are not two separate albums:
1. Aimless Peacock
2. Good Morning Captain
3. Been A Long Time (Waiting on Love)
4. Greenhorn
5. Appaloosa
6. The Shady Grove
7. The Garden Gate
8. Shine Along
9. Roll Old Jeremiah
10. Houston Don't Dream About Me
11. I Ain't Hiding
12. Kept My Soul
13. Lady of Ave. A
14. Make Glad
15. And The Band Played On...
16. What Is Home?
17. So Many Times
18. A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound
19. Fork in the River
20. The Last Place That Love Lives

These videos are from the "Cabin Fever" DVD, which I believe is official material, so don't be surprised if they disappear from Youtube:

Here are a couple that didn't make it on the album:


No comments:

Post a Comment