CD Review of Warpaint by The Black Crowes
Recommended if you like
The Faces,
The Allman Brothers Band,
North Mississippi All-Stars
Label
Silver Arrow Records
The Black Crowes: Warpaint

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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M
an, this business is tough. After hearing about a new Black Crowes album for the better part of the past year – how it’s supposed to be the best thing they’ve done in 15 years, it rocks like Amorica, blah, blah, blah – I finally determined it couldn’t possibly be worth all this trouble. In large part, I was right. It’s no Amorica, these guys have absolutely delivered better work in the not-too-distant past, and Warpaint is going to do very little to bolster the Crowes’ legacy.

This is their first album of new material in seven years, since 2001’s Lions, an equally-disappointing effort given the massive potential we’ve come to expect from the brothers Robinson, regardless of who’s fallen into the band behind them. For some reason, I keep allowing my hopes to get inebriated, thinking how great it would be to have another Southern Harmony and Musical Companion dropped in this era. Truth be told, I’d be thrilled with another By Your Side at this point. But it ain’t happening, and indeed, it sucks sitting by and watching your idols become irrelevant.

“Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution” is certainly the best of the bunch, as it stutters and stumbles its way in like a kinder, gentler “Sting Me.” It has all the signature Crowes elements – Rich’s bluesy slide guitar, Steve Gorman’s meticulous study in rock drumming, and a big, addictive chorus line featuring Chris and Rich sharing harmony vocals. Yes, “Daughters” was the right way to open a throw-back album, one that was supposed to revisit the band’s rocking roots. But then the rest of the album happens. Starting with the listless “Walk Believer Walk,” a fingernails-on-chalkboard trip in the blues, the Crowes are unable to build any momentum, find any consistent groove-rock element, or come close to sounding like the once-unshakeable future of the post-Stones generation.

The Black Crowes

Rich injects “Evergreen” with a venomous riff that makes it stick, and “Locust Street” is as pretty as a mandolin ballad gets. “Movin’ on Down the Line” takes too long to build, but when it does, it finishes in a fiery burst. All in all, the misses drown out the few random hits within Warpaint. An oddly-titled “Wee Who See the Deep” is the kind of forgettable five-minute jam experiment that used to occupy a single spot on a Crowes record. Nowadays, the exception has become the rule, unfortunately, so it shares many such spots here with lackluster scraps like “Oh Josephine” and “There’s Gold in Them Hills.” “Movin’ on Down the Line” was the first song recorded for Warpaint when the 2007 reincarnation of the band was formed, and Chris said, “it set the tempo for the whole session.” Sadly, that makes perfect sense.

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