Published July 1995, The Aquarian Weekly
It's taken years for Atlanta, Georgia's Black Crowes to combat the initial slew of bad press written about them and gain back (despite huge sales of all three of their albums) some well-deserved critical respect.
Besides band infighting (usually genetic), squabbles with other bands, fights with corporate tour sponsors, an extremely outspoken pro-marijuana stance and accusations of general rudeness, arrogance and the foolish caprices of youth; brothers Chris (vocals) and Rich Robinson (guitar), bassist Johnny Colt, drummer Steve Gorman, guitarist Marc Ford and keyboardist Eddie Harsch have also lived with charges of retro-pandering and rampant musical plagiarism (Rod Stewart, Faces and Humble Pie are the commonly cited inspirations) since the pot-smoking young wise-asses released their first album, the multi-platinum Shake Your Money Maker, back in 1990.
"I think a lot of people have been inspired in certain ways by the Black Crowes and don't really cop to it as much as you'd think they might," said Colt during a recent phone call from a pre-show soundcheck in Spain. "Even if it's just a freedom of attitude, to get up there and say what's on your mind. I think Chris, uhm ... (chuckles) definitely opened a lot of doors in that particular area."
With the sudden, astounding success of roots-based music by groups such as Hootie & The Blowfish, The Dave Matthews Band, Collective Soul and the cast of HORDE; as well as the audible resurgence of '60s, '70s and '80s hard rock influences in the current crop of "alternative" groups - the Black Crowes come off not so much as imitators of a certain musical style as they do one of the founding fathers of the current, back to the roots movement popular in today's music.
"It's interesting, for me, to've been out there long enough," said Colt, "to not be a 'new' band anymore ... to have enough of a career under my belt where I can look back and actually see something. I don't know how much the Black Crowes have had to do with the rootsier feel in music, overall, but we've definitely had an impact."
Enough impact to where; having played just a handful of dates with The Allman Brothers during the last HORDE and then opening a gig for the 'Dead in Tampa earlier this year, the choice of the Black Crowes as headliners of HORDE-4 caused only a few eyebrows to be raised.
"HORDE is definitely a cool thing," enthuses Colt. "A very positive, unifying event and, personally, I'm real pleased to be involved. We're friends with the Allman's and were touring in the general area last year so we guested on a few dates that went over really well. The organizers must've thought so, too, because here we are."
"We're doing HORDE," he adds, "to make good music, which is what it's all about, or should be. We're gonna get up there and try to create something brand new each and every night ... take the music to a whole new place every time out. HORDE ... with us, it could go anywhere."
-- AL MUZER