Georgia rockers the Black Crowes launched their career on the back of two hit records from their landmark debut album Shake Your Money Maker, which includes songs that are as dissimilar to each other as the band’s founding members, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson. “Hard to Handle” is an Otis Redding cover; “She Talks to Angels” is a stoner rock ballad. There was a big audience ready for a band like the Black Crowes (their next album would debut at number one), and not all of that audience was domestic. In 1990 I was at Baja nightclub Cabo Wabo on a tip that Van Halen was going to make a sneak appearance. The story turned out to be bogus, but there was a DJ spinning American rock records. When he played “Hard to Handle,” it set off a call-to-the-dance-floor stampede of international travelers. Who was this band?
The Black Crowes were quickly labeled the hottest rock and roll band of their generation by music critics, and they were right. The Crowes had managed to pick up where the Rolling Stones left off at the end of the ’70s, and I don’t mean musically. The Robinson brothers were a new Mick and Keith — they’d figured out the Stones’ chemistry, and together, via their own bad blood (the two have admitted more than once that they are not on friendly terms), they lit a fire under it. I always thought that the Crowes sounded more Faces than anything, given their ability to change gears from R&B mode to acid-washed rock faster than you can say Rod Stewart. That they come from the Deep South means almost nothing, not like other great Southern rockers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers; the Black Crowes are a British garage rock band, in spirit and on record.
BLACK CROWES: House of Blues, Sunday, November 22, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $42.50, $77.50.