It is the reunion that simply passes on. Given their history, the Black Crowes may very well be walking on thin ice when it comes to their continued survival. This time around, however, the reunited Robinson brothers and their newest Black Crowes crew might stand a chance. Following the pandemic delay, the ensemble hit the road in summer 2021, wowing audiences far and wide with their unique retro rock style, thanks to New Wave of Classic Rock (NWOCR) bands like Greta Van Fleet and Dirty Honey. Writing a new album is the next logical step, although it seems the Crowes have taken a slight detour to keep the party going in 2022 by paying tribute to the influential artists who made their best music 50 years ago have made. This is Amazon’s six-song digital release 1972 everything is about.
When I first heard The Black Crowes in 1990, my first reaction was that they sounded like a cross between The Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart & Faces. What started as a mild annoyance grew into full appreciation. The cover versions of Stone’s double-header Exile On Main Street, “Rocks Off,” the loose and raunchy opener, and Stewart’s “You Wear It Well.” Never a dull moment album that featured members of Faces made perfect sense. None deviate greatly from their original state, which means they do little more than underestimate their impact. Happily, 1972 digs a little deeper, allowing the Crowes to bring their own style and blend more into the mix.
The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” serves as the perfect palette for the Crowes to showcase their instincts and unique tone. Chris Robinson may not have the heart and soul of the Tempations’ Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street and Damon Harris. And the Black Crowes are not the Funk Brothers. But the pulse and vibe of this version is undeniable given all the nuances, wah-wahs and strings. One almost wishes they’d tried this around the same time they administered Otis Redding. David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” is another unexpected surprise that jumps faster but never loses its essence.
Rounding out the set is a scruffy take on T. Rex’s “The Slider” and a graceful, upbeat performance of Little Feats’ “Easy To Slip.” All in all, 1972 is a novel, tasteful nod to a year in which some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll music of all time was made. The Black Crowes know this all too well – it’s the foundation of their heritage. While her own story is worth having influentially captured those who followed, it’s enlightening for an artist to retrace her roots to where, for the rest of us, they really began. With 1972the Black Crowes remind everyone how important that time was and still is.
~ Shawn Perry