REVIEW: The Black Crowes – Before The Frost…Until The Freeze (2009 CD, vinyl)

THE BLACK CROWES – Before The Frost…Until The Freeze (2009 Silver Arrow)
I didn’t know what to expect when I cracked the seal on my brand new vinyl LP of Before The Frost…Until The Freeze. The Crowes do something different every time. Reemember how different By Your Side was from Three Snakes? And how Lions was from both of those?  Not to mention Southern Harmony compared to Money Maker
The Crowes have done it again, with an album different from their others, and they did it right.  Not that Warhorse was a bad album at all, although it’s one that remains tucked away on my shelves most of the time.  This time, the Crowes are digging way, way back to their roots.  The album is evocative of many eras of American music, from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, with an emphasis on the blues.  There’s also some bluegrass on this album, plenty of acoustics, and a little bit of funk.
And interestingly,a lot of it seems to be recorded live in front of a studio audience. Amazing atmosphere on Before The Frost…Until The Freeze!

I will say that this album should really be owned on vinyl. I own both the vinyl and CD formats, and vinyl is the most enjoyable listen.  The vinyl comes with all 20 tracks in a more logical order.  The CD comes with 10 songs, and a download code to the get the rest.  It’s nice that you can get all 20 songs via download, but I’m too old-school for that. I want to own these songs on some form of plastic.  Some form of physical product.  I want to hear these songs breathe on vinyl, because the Crowes are meant for vinyl.

Here’s your track list for both LPs.  The first record is more mellow, rootsy and acoustic.  The second, more electric and blues-driven.

Record one — Green vinyl!

“Aimless Peacock” – 6:40
“Good Morning Captain” – 3:24
“Been a Long Time (Waiting on Love)” – 7:47
“Greenhorn” – 7:12
“Appaloosa” – 3:35
“The Shady Grove” – 4:42
“The Garden Gate” – 4:21
“Shine Along” – 4:47
“Roll Old Jeremiah”- 4:40
“Houston Don’t Dream About Me” – 5:05

Record two — White vinyl!

“I Ain’t Hiding” – 5:57
“Kept My Soul” – 5:23
“Lady of Ave. A” – 5:20
“Make Glad” – 4:18
“And the Band Played On…” – 4:12
“What Is Home?” – 5:13
“So Many Times” – 4:53
“A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound” – 4:23
“Fork in the River” – 4:11
“The Last Place That Love Lives” – 4:57

To give you an example of why you need to hear this on vinyl, the first track, “Aimless Peacock”, is a nice acoustic instrumental. It segues pretty seamlessly into “Good Morning Captain”, a beautiful song. Well, if you buy the CD, “Good Morning Captain” is track 1, and “Aimless Peacock” is track 1 of the free downloads. So you miss that transition.

The best songs for me:

“The Garden Gate” — pure bluegrass. Could have been on the O Brother soundtrack. Beautiful song, amazing song. And this one isn’t even on the CD version, just the vinyl/download.

“I Ain’t Hiding” — wow. You go from the very bluegrass first LP, to this opening track on record two, which is pure 70’s disco funk. That’s why you need to hear this on two LPs! This is track 5 on the CD, which makes its appearance more jarring.

Other standouts include “Appaloosa”, “Roll Old Jeremiah”, Rich’s “What Is Home?”, and “Good Morning Captain”, but really this is a great album, all 20 songs. It’s a great one to just chill and relax to.  I think it’s becoming my favourite Crowes album.  I’m a big fan of Amorica, but when I can find the time to devote to it, I think I prefer Before The Frost…Until The Freeze.

5/5 stars

CD tracklist for the curious:

  1. “Good Morning Captain” – 3:24
  2. “Been a Long Time (Waiting on Love)” – 7:47
  3. “Appaloosa” – 3:35
  4. “A Train Still Makes a Lonely Sound” – 4:23
  5. “I Ain’t Hiding” – 5:57
  6. “Kept My Soul” – 5:23
  7. “What Is Home?” – 5:13
  8. “Houston Don’t Dream About Me” – 5:05
  9. “Make Glad” – 4:18
  10. “And the Band Played On…” – 4:12
  11. “The Last Place That Love Lives” – 4:57
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9 comments

  1. Mike – your blog is great! Glad to see that I haven’t ended up in any record store tales yet..seems like most of the stuff that went down happened after I left. Cheers.

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  2. This is good timing! I lost track of the Crowes after BYS and Lions, neither of which really floated my boat. I heard a Chris Robinson Band track recently and thought it sounded promising so I’ve been tempted to check that out and some latter-day Crowes too.

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    1. Agreed – I’m not big on BYS or Lions. Maybe Aaron will pipe in with some insight as he is a bigger Crowes fan that I.

      I think this album, though, you just can’t go wrong. As long as you don’t mind the more acoustic, bluesy rootsy side of the Crowes.

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  3. Interesting review – I found this record a bit dense when I first heard it but perhaps it is time to re-visit. I heard they played fan only gigs and recorded these new songs at those sessions – an interesting concept. I was a big Crowe fan back in the day. Ever hear the Sweet Pickle Salad bootleg?

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