Counting Crows – Recovering The Satellites (1996): Review

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Produced by Gil Norton
Label – Geffen

In many ways, “Recovering The Satellites” is a deliberate exercise in dispelling the widespread hipster press perception that Counting Crows were merely classic roots rock chancers, absorbed by the safety net of musical conservatism that blighted comparably successful acts such as Hootie And The Blowfish. The response is that much of the album is harder, louder and edgier than its multi platinum predecessor “August And Everything After”. Dispensing with T Bone Burnett in favour of Pixies producer Gil Norton brings a greater equality and harmonization between the output from the band and Adam Duritz’s soul baring vocal performance. This comes as a marked contrast to previous recordings, where the music was used as a vehicle to spotlight the singer’s intense delivery. That said, Duritz continues to provide vital literary commentary, which include the careful cataloguing of his inner demons following the widely publicized nervous breakdown he’d suffered months before.

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For highlights, one needs look no further than the powerful opening single “Angels Of The Silences”, which benefits from the addition of second guitarist Dan Vickrey who adds the necessary surge to a tight, pulsating stab at grunge era rock. Norton’s arrangement skills come to the fore on the magnificent “I’m Not Sleeping”, which carefully combine a tense lo-fi electric piano led verse with a chorus that explodes around a memorable lead guitar coda with flourishing strings and dramatic rhythms. Occasionally Duritz’s vocals steer towards the overwrought, and “Children In Bloom” and the overlong “Miller’s Angels”, seem so desperate to grab the listener’s attention the tunes get lost in the sentiment. But “Catapult”, “Have You Seen Me Lately?” and “Daylight Fading” are all strong enough to conclude that for all the changes in sonic approach, “Recovering The Satellites” is a more than worthy follow up to Counting Crows debut.

The search for diversity brings genuine rewards, and Counting Crows combat any suggestion that they are tied to a single musical genre. “August And Everything After Part Two” would have been a lazy, safe experience, and for that reason “Satellites” is an exercise of brave and worthy integrity.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Catapult” (Duritz, David Bryson, Charlie Gillingham, Matt Malley, Dan Vickrey, Ben Mize) – 3:34
2.”Angels of the Silences” (Duritz, Gillingham) – 3:39
3.”Daylight Fading” (Duritz, Vickrey, Gillingham) – 3:50
4.”I’m Not Sleeping” – 4:57
5.”Goodnight Elisabeth” – 5:20
6.”Children in Bloom” – 5:23
7.”Have You Seen Me Lately?” – 4:11
8.”Miller’s Angels” (Duritz, Vickrey) – 6:33
9.”Another Horsedreamer’s Blues” – 4:32
10.”Recovering the Satellites” – 5:24
11.”Monkey” – 3:02
12.”Mercury” – 2:48
13.”A Long December” – 4:57
14.”Walkaways” (Duritz, Vickrey) – 1:12

See also…

Counting Crows – August And Everything After (1993): Review

Counting Crows – Hard Candy (2002): Review

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