The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker (1990): Review

blackcrowes

Produced by George Drakoulias
Label – Def American

In an era where rock music was moving towards a seismic re-alignment, one has to credit Atlanta’s Black Crowes for sticking to their principles, even if their no frills, no nonsense traditionalism seemed out of touch with the fashions of the time. Their tried and trusted brand of low tech southern rock and bluesy rock n’ roll were built by an exhaustive live presence and a relentless determination to stick closely to the music of their influencers. Discovered by Rick Rubin’s right hand man, George Drakoulias, and signed to Def American, their debut long player “Shake Your Money Maker”, is packed full of acknowledgements to The Rolling Stones, The Faces, Lynyrd Skynyrd and early Aerosmith. In the brothers Robinson, Young Rich had the classic guitar licks, and Chris had all the Jaggeresque swagger. With little studio embellishment, the album is a big honest testament to their live sound, a few vocal additions here and there, and deliberately no guitar effects.

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For most listeners, the immediate centre piece is the smoking, surging cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle”. It’s a great signature tune for the band, and an obvious reflection of the rest of the record. Self penned “Jealous Again” would become a Billboard hit, and proved that the band were more than a revivalist cover band in major label glad rags. There’s an admirable timelessness to the record that’s enhanced by Drakoulias’ uncluttered production, a simplicity that’s transmitted throughout. There’s minor reservations when the instrumental tones quieten and the rhythms slow for the two ballads “Seeing Things” and “She Talks To Angels”, which see Chris Robinson’s vocal steer towards the heavily overwrought, almost over consciously attempting to impress. He would temper and improve his delivery on future albums, particularly the darker, roots-ier follow up (and for this reviewer far superior) “The Southern Harmony Musical Companion”.

To be sure, “Shake Your Money Maker” has a genuine air of conviction, rather than the stench of exploitation of classic rock from the past, and its verve, momentum and honesty can only be admired by any discerning listener.

7/10

Track Rating

1 – Twice As Hard (8)
2 – Jealous Again (9)
3 – Sister Luck (8)
4 – Could I’ve Been So Blind (7)
5 – Seeing Things (6)
6 – Hard To Handle (9)
7 – Thick ‘n Thin (7)
8 – She Talks To Angels (6)
9 – Struttin’ Blues (7)
10 – Stare It Cold (7)

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2 responses to “The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker (1990): Review

    • There’s been hundreds of bands over the years that have parodied various iconic rock bands from the 60s and 70s. Fortunately, The Black Crowes weren’t one of these.

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