REVIEW: Cry of Love – Brother (1993)

CRY OF LOVE BROTHER_0002

CRY OF LOVE – Brother (1993 Sony)

He wasn’t in the Black Crowes for their heyday, but fans unfamiliar with Cry of Love may remember Audley Freed as the Crowes’ second guitar player, from By Your Side to their first breakup. Upon hearing this CD, his debut album with Cry Of Love, you will understand why the Crowes tapped him to replace Marc Ford.  I loved this album so much that I place it on my “Most Unrightfully Ignored Albums of the 1990s” list, with the comment that “Audley Freed plays his Fenders like bluesy butter.”

In 1993, I fully hoped and partly expected Cry of Love and Brother Cane to end the domination of grunge rock, hand in hand!

Cry Of Love not only had the awesome, tubey guitar sounds of Freed but also (for this album, anyway) an excellent little known singer named Kelly Holland. Sounding like a cross between Chris Robinson and Joe Lynn Turner, Holland had pipes to spare and knew how to use them with soul.  What a powerful throat.  At the time I used to say, “If only I could sing like Kelly Holland or Joe Lynn Turner!”  I only discovered while writing this review that Holland died last year at age 52.  Hard living and alcohol took their toll on a singer who never achieved the fame that he had potential for.

Hopefully Mr. Holland was very proud of the one album he made with the band.  Every track on this album is a live-sounding standout, with very few audible overdubs. Production by John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity from their hometime of Raleigh, North Carolina) is spot on.  With a bluesy band like this, you want clear and crisp, yet with the illusion of a live rehearsal.  The album delivers on that, with the power one expects from a modern recording. The guitar tones in particular are stunning. With a chilly, round, and natural sound, Freed proved that in the 90’s you didn’t have to downtune.

There are a lot of favourites on Brother.  The first single “Peace Pipe” was killer.  I can’t get enough of that bopping bass line and irresistible chorus.  The second single “Bad Thing” wasn’t bad either, but the opener “Highway Jones” was really awesome.  It has a blurringly fast blues riff that just stuns.  On the mellow side of the blues, there is the soulful (and mournful) “Carnival”.  Excellent lyrics on that one too.  I saw them perform it acoustically on MuchMusic in the 1990’s.  Still have that on VHS tape, too.  Then there’s “Too Cold In The Winter”, which makes use of Freed’s chilly tone to full effect. You will have your own favourites, but I think “Peace Pipe” will grab you no matter who you are.

After this album, Holland departed to be replaced by Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, currently in Warrant) on the second album, Diamonds and Debris, which destroyed half of what made this band unique. While they still had Freed, it’s just rare to hear a singer of Holland’s caliber, and Mason is just a tad generic. At least at that phase of his career.  That album isn’t nearly as memorable as Brother.

So: Brother, an excellent lost gem of an album, may be relegated to the footnotes of the Black Crowes’ biography. It’s a shame, because I think it’s up there with some of the best albums the Crowes have never done. Of note: I also own two CD singles, for “Bad Thing” and “Peace Pipe”, which also had two non-album studio tracks on it.   Those, and some live cuts on “Bad Thing” are worth checking out if you crave more of the original Cry of Love.  I’ll review those another day.  Rest in Peace Kelly Holland.

4/5 stars

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25 comments

      1. Thanks! I’m finding I have to restrain myself from sending a huge list with you, and hijacking your own trip there! I mean, there’s the other Izzy Stradlin records (I only have the S/T), I like the sound of that Pride And Glory… Hell, there’s still Crowes records I don’t have… Tons of jazz and blues I can think of…

        But no worries, if all you do is look for your own stuff, it’s cool. And if you do keep your eyes peeled for me, much appreciated! It’s not confirmed yet, but I may have time to go there myself on separate trips in May and in June!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well dude whatever the Music gods provide, they will provide ;)

          It’ll be more fun for me to browse in one sense…I won’t be bulked up with a backpack this time! I’d love if my mom in law comes to help/document, but I won’t force her if she’d rather just stay indoors.

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        1. I prefer the mobility of non-backpack mode. The ability to easily slide between browsers without even brushing a buttock…it’s a glorious freedom! The loot comes after for me today, so I can carry it all bag-like…

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  1. My brother bought this on cassette back when it was released and I listened to his copy more than a few times and meant to buy for myself on cd,never got around to it though….so I think it may be off to ITunes to see if they got this bad boy!….
    Safe journeys on your trip Mikey !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Audley enough, I have not heard of this. Now that I have, I want it. Since today is my wedding anniversary, maybe I will spend the money I normally use for flowers and nice dinner on vinyl. I can not think of a better gift. My wife might think differently though.

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  3. I remember them and Brother Cane being mentioned in the same breath all the time back then. I loved (and still love) Brother Cane’s debut album so obviously I had to check this one out as well, but for some reason it never stuck with me. It’s not a bad album, but I never got the same vibe with it as I got with Brother Cane.
    Too bad Brother Cane succumbed to grunge instead of ending it. Seeds wasn’t that great.

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    1. NICE! Much did used to play them from time to time, that’s how I heard them. They had a Saturday rock show called Start Me Up. These guys were on a few times, once live in the studio.

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