I have been a huge fan of The Black Crowes since their debut album "Shake Your Money Maker". I literally grew up with this music, and love every official release that they have done. I have thought a lot about this, and now know why, that like so many others, I am so damn attached to this band and their music. It's because The Black Crowes never spoon fed their fans with rehashed drivel, and instead deliberately followed their creative hearts, while wisely challenging the listener from album to album. Thank the rock gods for that! Their third masterpiece "Amorica is no different. And thats why this is lifelong music to me, even if the band no longer exists.
I was a first day buyer of Amorica when it was released on November 1st, 1994. Upon first listen, I was actually shocked to hear that it didn't sound anything like their previous effort "The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion". It's kind of silly to think back on it now, but this was the obvious trend with this band. Moving forward musically was the goal, and we were all on this ride together. Amorica gave way to a much more produced studio record than the more live sound on the previous records. As I remember, the first listen was somewhat challenging to my dumb teenage brain. My first reaction upon hearing the first few songs was "What the fuck? What did they do? To this day, Im not sure why, but maybe the sophistication of this new batch of songs would catch even the most loyal Crowes fan off guard.
The subject matter of the lyrics were darker, deeper, and with themes of self-loathing, and love gone wrong. On that note, the album isn't a bummer to listen to. No depression here. And no time for shoe gazing. The music drags the listener along upright with a loud rock n roll audacity. It makes me feel god damn good, even happy. A song like the epic "Wiser Time" balanced out the darkness with a hint of self-reflection and learning from the pain of difficult relationships. There was no sunshine here. This shit was deep. I revisited the album every day, and on the fifth listen, I was hooked, chipping away the skepticism with each listen until it was totally smashed and gone. I read an interview with Rich Robinson a while back, and in it he stated that when showing the new music to friends, that they had a similar reaction that I did upon the first listen. This is proof that amazing music is not always easy. It takes time to digest. And if the listener has patience, they will be rewarded.
Amorica has got to be one of the best and most underrated albums ever recorded at the now legendary Sound City Studios. Dave Grohl should have featured someone from The Black Crowes in his amazing documentary about the studio. Sonically, this music is perfection incarnate. It sounds and feels exactly how real rock should sound. And I cannot escape this blog entry without mentioning the infamous album cover. As I understand it, some of the band members hate it. But as a fan, I loved it. It's in your face and captures the unwavering spirit of rock. Album art is usually fucking boring and safe, trading art for marketing. Judge the book by the cover, and dive in with the volume high.