Montrose: Montrose

Rating: 95%

Montrose_-_-s-t-.jpgWhile looking through the used records over at Hagerstown, I saw this album. I remember, when I was younger, hearing this album on cassette and more recently, I burned a copy of it from my brother. So, when I came across this 1973 lp, I quickly grabbed it.

The music is brilliant. It’s soaked in that classic Blues Rock style, and was a hard hitter. Sometimes, I think that this album was a bit ahead of it’s time.  It stood out as an original piece of work. It was tuneful and raw. This was early American Heavy Metal as it was being born. I love the catchy melodies. 

The musicianship was top notch. The vocal work of Sammy Hagar, I will say was great. Now, I am not a big fan of Sammy Hagar, but he does this album justice. Ronnie Montrose’s guitar work is brilliantThe guitar riffs are so bad ass. Just the opening of “Bad Motor Scooter” with the usage of the slide and tremolo bar was born one awesome opening riff. I have heard many bands use this riff since then. The solos are just as good, making Ronnie Montrose one of the best all-time guitarists. The rhythm section of bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi provide such great tempos, melodies, and harmonies. Everything is so well balanced on this record. This is a solid debut by a band that I think is underrated. 

Track listing:

Side 1
1. “Rock the Nation” 3:03
2. “Bad Motor Scooter”  3:41
3. “Space Station #5”  5:18
4. “I Don’t Want It” 2:58

Side 2
5. “Good Rockin’ Tonight”  2:59
6. “Rock Candy” 5:05
7. “One Thing on My Mind” 3:41
8. “Make It Last” 5:31

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Lions: The Black Crowes

Rating: 80%

The_Black_Crowes_-_Lions.jpgIn 2001, the Black Crowes released their sixth record entitled “Lions.” This album sees the Crowes going back more toward that melodic and atmospheric style they were known for. It still retains that strong 1970’s Bluesy feel, but you can hear how they are experimenting with elements of Funk and Pop while keeping a strong psychedelic texture.

One thing is for sure, the music on here is interesting and not shapeless. The music seems to be a bit loose at times and not as tight as the songs on the previous albums. But the musicianship makes up for that aspect in many ways. It has some very funky riffs and leads as well as rhythm sections. The album sees the Crowes using more of the weird offbeats and slower heavy riffs that are accompanied by some fantastic vocal work including strong beefy chorus lines. It’s almost as if Led Zeppelin meets Bob Marley while hanging out with Pink Floyd.

Track listing:

“Midnight from the Inside Out” – 4:21
“Lickin'” – 3:42
“Come On” – 2:58
“No Use Lying” – 4:57
“Losing My Mind” – 4:26
“Ozone Mama” – 3:54
“Greasy Grass River” – 3:20
“Soul Singing” – 3:54
“Miracle to Me” – 4:42
“Young Man, Old Man” – 4:14
“Cosmic Friend” – 5:23
“Cypress Tree” – 3:41
“Lay It All on Me” – 5:29

By Your Side: The Black Crowes

Rating: 90%

The_Black_Crowes_-_By_Your_Side.jpgIn 1999, the Black Crowes released their fifth album “By Your Side.” This album saw some lime up changes. Rich Robinson played all of the guitar tracks in the studio since Marc Ford left the band a few years prior. They also had a new bassist Sven Pipien to the roster. Other than that, you still have the talented Chris Robinson on vocals, keyboardist Eddie Harsch and drummer Steve Gorman. 

Musically, one will quickly pick up on the more upbeat tempos like that on the first album. Also, you’ll hear musically, the Black Crowes are reaching down deeper and pulling influences of Country, Folk, and Blues to create their blend of Southern fried Rock n’ Roll. The album is still very soulful, loosing more or less the atmosphericness of the music that you heard on the prior two albums. This album has strong melodies that are very catchy. I would almost say, take all of the good sounds and styles from their catalog and throw them together and you have what this album consists of.

Track listing:

“Go Faster” – 4:04
“Kickin’ My Heart Around” – 3:40
“By Your Side” – 4:28
“HorseHead” – 4:02
“Only a Fool” – 3:43
“Heavy” – 4:43
“Welcome to the Goodtimes” – 4:00
“Go Tell the Congregation” – 3:36
“Diamond Ring” – 4:09
“Then She Said My Name” – 3:43
“Virtue and Vice” – 4:45

Three Snakes and One Charm: The Black Crowes

Rating: 85%

The_Black_Crowes_-_Three_Snakes_and_One_Charm“Three Snakes and One Charm” was the forth record released by the Black Crowes in 1996. The Black Crowes are still producing records that are riding out the tide of Popular music. By this point, NU Metal and Grunge are pretty much at the “High Water” mark. Plus, other forms of Heavy Metal were being developed, including the second wave of South Rock.

Musically, with this album, you hear the Crowes maintaining their distinctive sound which includes influences from Southern Rock, Blues, Rock n’ Roll, drenched in a stonesy psychedelic sounds. It’s very atmospheric in some parts. I do like the stripped down rawness of the music on this album. To me, it doesn’t sound fake as it may with other groups thrown into the same genre. What this album lacks, musically, I musicianship makes up for it and therefore you have another good release by the Black Crowes.

Track listing:

“Under a Mountain” – 4:10
“Good Friday” – 3:51
“Nebakanezer” – 4:07
“One Mirror Too Many” – 3:34
“Blackberry” – 3:25
“Girl from a Pawnshop” – 6:17
“(Only) Halfway to Everywhere” – 3:59
“Bring On, Bring On” – 3:56
“How Much for Your Wings?” – 3:27
“Let Me Share the Ride” – 3:18
“Better When You’re Not Alone” – 4:10
“Evil Eye” – 4:10