REVIEW: The Black Crowes – Freak ‘N’ Roll…Into the Fog (2006)

The rather late first review from Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013!

 

CROWES FREAK ROLL_0002THE BLACK CROWES – Freak ‘n’ Roll…Into the Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco (2006 Eagle Records)

I somehow missed this when it first came out!  This double live album (acquired at Sonic Boom Music for the awesome price of $7.99), recorded in 2005, reunited the Robinson brothers with members from the classic era.  Returning are Marc Ford (guitar),  Ed Hawrysch (keyboards, from Toronto Ontario), Sven Pipien (bass) and original drummer Steve Gorham.  I believe the original bassist, Johnny Colt, was busy with Rock Star Supernova at the time…

Anyway, with a set concentrated on classic Crowes tunes from the earlier albums with a few other gems, this is an awesome collection.  There are a few later songs, such as a mind-blowing psychedelic version of “Soul Singing” (Lions).  Many of the songs, “Soul Singing” included, turn into long extended jams.  I wouldn’t call them meandering jams; they are spellbinding and with purpose at every moment.

The Crowes are backed by guests:  the Left Coast Horns and backup singers.  The horns kick ass on the extended “(Only) Halfway to Everywhere”.  They transform “Welcome to the Goodtimes” into something a little more sassy, likewise with “Let Me Share the Ride”, and “Seeing Things” from the first LP.  They also help stretch “Non Fiction” into 10 minutes of exploratory rock.  The backup singers really compliment “My Morning Song” transforming it into an ecstatic moment.

I have always taken a bit of flak from other Crowes fans over my favourite album.  Mine is Amorica, and most people I knew favoured Southern Harmony.  Regardless, it’s a delight to hear “Wiser Time” from Amorica on this album.  Songs like this are really special, and with most of the original players on it, “Wiser Time” shines.

I enjoy that the Crowes threw some rarities, covers and B-sides on Freak ‘n’ Roll.  “Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz” and “Mellow Down Easy” are among the highlights of these tracks, but I was most excited about “The Night they Drove Ol’ Dixie Down”.  The original is a favourite of mine so I couldn’t wait to hear the Crowes’ interpretation.  And guess what?  It’s awesome.  It would be ludicrous to compare it to the original by The Band.  All that matters is that the Crowes wring more soul out of the song than you’ll hear in modern rock on any given day.

The Walmart version of the CD came with a download code for a bonus track, the Stones’ “Loving Cup”.  I obtained it via the seedy underbelly of the internets.  On the DVD this was played after “Welcome to the Goodtimes”.  I’m glad to have this song because the horns really fatten it up nicely, and it’s also a great tune!

5/5 stars

Record Store Excursion 2013!

PART 1

PART 2

36 comments

  1. I have all of their studio albums & a couple of live releases but hadn’t heard of this before. Should I assume that you meant to write that it was recorded in 2005 & not 1995? Based on your write-up, I can’t imagine that there would’ve been a “classic era” yet in 1995. I will definitely seek this out for the right price.

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  2. The Crowes do tend to stretch things out, in a live setting, which makes their shows definitely worth seeing. I’ve seen them three times (once for Three Snakes, and twice for By Your Side) and for two of those shows they proved exactly why they rock. The one they didn’t, the Three Snakes show, is one I am absolutely certain that Chris won’t remember. He could barely stand up, it was pathetic. Anyway, one of the best jams I saw them do was a 20 minute Thorn In My Pride, at Pine Knob. Thrilling. Also: Hooray, I’m so glad you liked this! Recommending things to people is a hit or miss situation. :)

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    1. I’m not surprised I like it, but I’m glad that I like it as much as I do! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      I remember you telling me about the 20 minute version of Thorn in my Pride.

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  3. You’re in excellent company! I LOVE Amorica, and defend it! It is one of my top favourites! I like some songs off of 3 Snakes too, but not as much as Amorica.

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  4. Amorica is my favourite too and 3 Snakes after that I think… I think Chris refers to that period as “the beard years”.

    I’ve got this on DVD but only watched it once. Can’t remember much about it at all! Might need to dig it out after reading this.

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        1. I have an iTunes album of the Black Crowes with interview spots, and I know By Your Side is one of the album Chris and Rich talk about. I’m gonna listen to it later and let you know.

          I think the beards MAY have returned for Lions. But I remember this about Lions — at the time, Aaron hated it. He sold it back to me, I think.

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        2. I’m thinking of a Classic Rock mag interview where Chris complained about it. I seem to remember record company pressure being involved. Was that not a Kevin Shirley production?

          I didn’t like Lions either. That was me out after that. There was good tracks on both but… not enough.

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        3. He says it was “a weird place”. He does name 4 songs that they still play live, but says the album is growing on him as time goes by.

          Rich says this is a result of the loss of Marc Ford and Johnny Colt from the lineup. This and a new record label who advised to do things that “we probably shouldn’t have.”

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  5. I never really got Black Crowes at all. The only album I really love is By Your Side. Money Maker is quite good too. But on the rest of their albums, only a few tracks here and there sticks.

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    1. By Your Side and Money Maker are the two most straightforward. I like both of those albums as well. But I may have to start picking up more Crowes live albums, if I liked this one so much!

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  6. I saw them on tour for Southern Companion and they were half brilliant / half a bit too self-indulgent. Not heard this bit I do like the one with Jimmy Page.

    Saw Marc Ford’s band Burning Tree too, opening for someone a couple years before he joined up – now they were an excellent live band.

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    1. I love the one with Jimmy Page. In fact that’s the only other live album of theirs that I own. I may have to change that now. Warhorse Live has been on my wishlist for a while.

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  7. Caught the Crowes here in Tbay back in 93. They actually showed up baked..eeer I mean played and jammed all the songs out. It was cool show. Izzy Stradlin and the Juju Hounds opened well the Hounds showed up but no Izzy.!!!!
    My favs are Southern,By Your Side and Stare It Cold (live Boot from 91)…
    Good review Mike..

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  8. Have no idea..he just no showed…what a bummer man….Izzy Stradlin hanging around Tbay in the summer of 93!!!…..wasn’t meant to happen!!!!
    But the Juju hounds just played covers ,the bassist looked like he was so ready to puke his guys out from the second song on but man he played well and kept his shit together !
    Hahahaha….
    Crowes opened with No Speak….I loved it but a lot of people including my future wife who was there did not understand the philopshy of jamming were not that impressed…..they just wanted to hear the hits how they heard them on cd……
    Crowes were awesome..they came back about 6 yrs or so ago ,missed them….

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  9. Yeah,Richards sang all the lead vocals..kinda funny he kept checking his watch ..hahahaha…how many covers do we have to fill here fellas??? Til we get payed,
    Having said that they were good….
    Caught the Georgia Satallites here back in Dec 89 and they were Loud & very good live band!
    Love and still do those 3 Satallite albums!
    Battleship Chains!

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    1. My buddy Tom used to swear by that one Dan Baird solo album…what was it called…Buffalo Nickel? Since I respect Tom I knew that the Satellites would be quality. Definite a good band and one of the best things about the stinky music that was out in the 80’s.

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  10. Actually the first Baird solo album Love Songs for The hearing Impaired in my opinion is the best one of the two. By no means is Buffalo Nickel subpar it’s just for me his debut there is not a dud track on it….check out the song Knocked Up..lyrics go …
    U Got knocked up….
    I got locked Up
    I guess u could say,
    We both got screwed….

    Hahaha….those are along the lines of his lyrical style..very underrated …

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    1. Awesome album. I Love You Period was always on our playlists when we had parties back in the day. But make sure you don’t put an r after “you” in that song title… ;-)

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  11. I must have missed this one – although I have plenty of Crowes boots from their enthusiastic fan base (there’s a healthy tape trading community).
    I remember a poll of hardcore Crowes fans resulted in Amorica being the most popular album, followed by TSHAMC. I like both, but prefer the latter. It took me a long time to get into Amorica but it was worth the wait.
    I think their best song didn’t appear on an album (at first) but was from the abandoned “Tall ” sessions – the album they scrapped in between (I think) TSHAMC and Amorica. It’s called “Feathers”, and it’s Floydian and wonderful.

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