Weekly 40-Watt #1: The Black Crowes

Weekly 40-Watt is a feature where I listen to an album or band, new or old, for the first time and jot down some notes on it.

this photo was presumably taken in the ‘90s, although it looks two decades older.

this photo was presumably taken in the ‘90s, although it looks two decades older.

This is a new blog feature called Weekly 40-Watt. My goal with it is to encourage myself to listen to something new in my ears each week and start writing about music a bit more again. I’ll listen to one band or album, new or old, that I’ve never listened to before and write some stuff about it. Let’s see if we can somehow get 50 of these in 2019.

Today’s blog is about The Black Crowes. My friend Pat pointed me in their direction when, after playing a zillion hours of Red Dead Redemption 2 and watching A Star Is Born, I found myself searching for something rock-ish / country-ish / blues-ish with guitars. Probably I can blame the Jackson Maine tracks on the ASIB soundtrack for this itch.

Keeping it simple, I used the Black Crowes Essentials playlist on Apple Music for my intro to the band. Off the bat, the first two tracks were recognizable enough. “Hard to Handle” (originally by Otis Redding) and “She Talks to Angels” were each widespread enough as ‘90s hits, from their debut album Shake Your Money Maker, that their melodies were stored somewhere in the back of my brain. These tracks demonstrate easily enough what we’re getting from The Black Crowes — bluesy rock that’s catchy, memorable, easy listening. The former is on the higher-energy side of what they offer; the latter is a pretty straight ballad type.

Two notable songs on this playlist come from the band’s second album, 1992’s The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. “Remedy” and “Sting Me” were both hits for the band, and each maintain a driving rock backbone while accompanied by a backing group of gospel choir singers. Both songs have enough in the way of guitar solos to satisfy that particular part of what I was looking for when I started listening.

“Jealous Again,” another taken from Shake Your Money Maker, has an intro a bit reminiscent of something the E Street Band would ease into, and the featured piano, expected from blues-rock like this, is effective on this song, if perhaps not as prominent as some other tracks. “Kickin’ My Heart Around” is a more recent track for this playlist, from 1999’s By Your Side, and generally showcases the type of music that can’t hurt to toss on every once in a while — well-written, catchy, fun rock stuff.

There are some other highlights here, but what I’ve gathered from my listen is that I’ll likely incorporate Shake Your Money Maker, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, and By Your Side into my rotation for a while. Certainly a band I’m glad I took the time to check out, they fit the bill of what I was in a mood for recently, and a few of these tracks will be good additions to some large playlists I keep updating regularly.