Brothers in arms get back to basics
The Black Crowes were never strangers when it came to acoustic performance. So it should come as no surprise that principle members Chris and Rich Robinson decided to embark on a separate tour of their own, playing smaller, more intimate venues while sitting down on chairs and telling tales between songs.
The resulting album, Brothers Of A Feather: Live At The Roxy, was culled from their three night stand at the Los Angeles club in 2006, and is a mix of classic Crowes, along with covers by some of those artists who influenced and inspired the Robinsons as younger men.
“Horsehead,” from 1999’s By Your Side, may not be entirely acoustic (Rich plugs in on a number of tracks) but no less effective in it’s more unadorned form. Chris’ vocals have certainly aged over the years, yet sound all the better for it, adding an extra degree or two of wisdom. “Cursed Diamond” is as heartfelt as ever, while new song “Magic Rooster Blues” lends itself to The Band, who were another vital ingredient in the Robinson’s sound.
They dust off the obscure “My Heart’s Killing Me,” wax poetical on “Cold Boy Smile,” and deliver an emotional rendering of old country song “Driving Wheel.”
Long time fans will clearly be happy with hearing old Crowes’ chestnuts “Darling Of The Underground Press” and “Thorn In My Pride,” though it’s their take on other people’s songs that warrant the listener’s attention just as much.
John Martyn’s folk classic “Over The Hill” is given an especially authentic reading, so too Gene Clark’s “Polly,” during which Chris does his best to channel Clark’s own quavering country voice. Their cover of Lowell George’s “Roll Um Easy” is simply exquisite in its delivery, just as the original all those many years ago, imbuing it with all the southern beauty they can muster.
What this album makes clear, is that Chris and Rich Robinson see themselves as carrying the torch for those who went before them, continuing the tradition, while creating a few new ones of their own.
The DVD edition is the one to own, since it not only includes additional performances, but the original CD as well, offering the viewer, and listener, the best of both worlds, and for a damn good price. For Black Crowes fans, this is probably about as personal as it gets, without actually having been there.