Black Crowes singer flies off in a whole new direction
In early 1994, Black Crowes’ co-founder and lead singer Chris Robinson was living on the American west coast, in Laurel Canyon, doing what musicians/artists often do, namely hang out, do drugs and jam with other musicians/artists. Jimmy Ashurst (JuJu Hounds), who was friends with Chris, later recalled: “Around that time there were several jams with Chris, Marc [Ford], and Andy [Sturmer] – Chris was for the first time in his career living far from his brother and I think he was interested in seeing what he was capable of doing without Rich.”
And so on the 8th February, Chris Robinson (vocals), Marc Ford (guitar), Jimmy Ashhurst (bass), Andy Sturmer (drums), and Eric Bobo (percussion) walked on to the stage of The Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood for a one-off performance that fortunately was preserved on Graham Nash’s mobile recording unit.
The evening was made even more special thanks to the appearance of Gary Lewis (from 1960’s pop group Gary Lewis and the Playboys), and music legend David Crosby, who proved he still had it thanks to a superb rendition of “Long Time Gone.”
From Free’s “Walk In My Shadow,” to last number “Presence Of The Lord” (Blind Faith), what Foamfoot made clear was that this would be a walk down ‘60s/’70s memory lane – no originals, just covers of some of their favourite classic songs.
Delaney & Bonnie’s “Bottle Of Red Wine” is given an enthusiastic workout, as is the Small Faces’ “Tin Soldier,” a song perfectly suited to Robinson’s own raspy vocals a la Steve Marriott. They pay homage to The Marshall Tucker Band, and namely the late Toy Caldwell, via a rousing “Take The Highway,” replete with an extended guitar solo by Marc Ford, before slowing the pace on “Deal,” off Jerry Garcia’s eponymous 1972 solo album. However it wouldn’t be a Robinson/Crowes/Foamfoot show without a little Allman Brothers, and their run-through of “One Way Out” absolutely rocks.
Whether it’s convincing covers of The Kinks (“Love Me Till The Sun Shines”), or The Band (“Jerimiah Surrender”), Robinson and his fellow crazy cohorts keep the musical references going and the energy flowing. But it has to be their performance of “Long Time Gone,” with David Crosby, that is the album’s centrepiece and highlight, where for more than 12 minutes the listener is put into a time capsule and magically transported to the early ‘70s. Crosby is in especially fine form, singing like someone half his age, incredible considering the sort of lifestyle he led as a younger man. And when he roars out the high notes at the end of the song, one almost gets goosebumps just hearing it.
Nearly twenty-five years later, Crows From The Nest remains a worthy artefact of a time that in the minds of many Black Crowes fans no longer exists. And while professionally recorded, Live from the Troubadour is yet to receive an official release, even if a copy of the soundboard was knowingly handed out by someone either in or close to the band with the ‘purported’ intention of making it freely available.
That said, hopefully one day we will see a properly mastered, and annotated edition of this most enjoyable show.