Can you believe it has been 30 years since The Black Crowes debut album, ‘Shake Your Money Maker’? It is hard to fathom some times. The Black Crowes came on the scene with the release of the album on February 13, 1990. The album goes against the grain of the music at the time. The 80’s Glam Rock scene was still alive, but the Crowes went back to the Rock & Roll roots and gave us some dirty, bluesy rock & roll and laughed in the face of those glam rockers. That scene would die out soon enough when Nirvana would come on to the scene. The album went on to sell over 5 million copies from 5 singles and reaching #4 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
The Black Crowes hail from Marietta, GA, my hometown (different high school though – they went to rival Walton and I was at Osborne). These guys were all over the place and the talk of the town. It was so cool to see these hometown heroes explode on to the scene and hit it big time. Nothing cooler than local boys making it to the top.
This box set is a 30 year celebration of the album and let me tell you the boys did it right. The box set comes in…well…a box. It looks wooden even thought it is really a very sturdy cardboard shaped to look like wood. The back cover list the track listing and inside are is the picture of the album over some flyers and passes. The admission price of $0.96 for me is intriguing because the 96 is shaped like the local rock radio station called 96 Rock which tells me that show was a promoted by that awesome radio station. It brings back a lot of memories. The set I have is the Super Deluxe Edition and the vinyl one at that. See below to see what comes in the set.
The set comes with a an exclusive patch and even a replica tour pass which is just like it was back in the day. You peeled off the back and attached it to your clothing. They didn’t have the laminated VIP passes they have today.
The set also has a replica flyer of the band Mr. Crowe’s Garden which was the name of the band prior to finally becoming the Black Crowes. I love the fact on the flip side has the track listing of that earlier show. Really cool stuff.
If that wasn’t enough, they also included this album sized booklet. There is no name just what looks like a piece of red tape with the band’s name on it to hold it together. Inside though it was filled with pictures and the story of the album and everything that was happening with the band around that time. It is 20 pages of Crowes goodness.
I couldn’t let you at least see 2 pages of the booklet so you can have a idea of what you are getting. And no, those aren’t actually signed, it is part of the picture. Pretty cool if I could’ve gotten it signed though.
And that is all the goodies…well, the music is really the goodies and what does this set have to offer. It brings you a remastered edition of the album. A vinyl of B-Sides, Demos and unreleased tracks and then 2 LPs of the Homecoming Concert the band performed on December 20, 1990 in Atlanta, GA. You get 4 LPs of wonderful, Black Crowes music. When you do a box set release, there are two things that are a must…unreleased songs & demos as well as a live show from that era. The Crowes have checked both those boxes with this set!
SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER:
The original album has been remastered by George Drakoulias and he did an amazing job as the album sounds wonderful. You get the big hits such as “Twice as Hard”, “Jealous Again”, “Hard to Handle”, “Seeing Things” and of course, “She Talks to Angels”. And they all sound so crisp and clear and if the volume is up to 11, they sound loud as well. I’m not going to go song by song as this album deserves a full review so day down the line and this post will be too long already so we will save it for another time, but know I do love this album!!
I love how the replicated the inner sleeve with the Black Crowes artwork and the band pictures as they were done prior. They didn’t miss a beat with this set.
MORE MONEY MAKER: UNRELEASED SONGS & B-SIDES:
Let’s get to the stuff that really matters, the Unreleased songs and the B-Sides. The album opens with the previously unreleased track, “Charming Mess”. To me it sounds like a classic Rod Stewart track from the 70’s. But when you throw in Chris’ vocals, you get some bluesy goodness. Then we get the Humble Pie cover of “30 Days in the Hole” and they slam it home with their version. We then get another unreleased track called “Don’t Wake Me” which has some tasty slide guitar and then rocks out and gets you moving. Another cover is up next with the John Lennon penned and Faces cover “Jealous Guy” (even more Rod Stewart connections). I love the organ sound and the dirtiness of the track. Chris gritty vocals fit like a nice glove. Up next is “Waitin’ Guilty” with a nice driving beat, some cool piano and overall a pleasant track the shows more of their blues roots. Lastly on the first side we get “Hard to Handle” and this version is full of horns which is why it is called “with Horns Mix” and it adds a lot of flavor to the song.
Side B kicks off with some acoustic versions of “Jealous Again” and “She Talks to Angels” and both are truly stellar. If a song sounds good acoustically, it is a good song and these are two great songs. And the true gems on here are two demos from the pre-Black Crowes band Mr. Crowe’s Garden. The demos are for “She Talks to Angels” and “Front Porch Sermon”. “She Talks to Angels” was recorded on acoustic guitars and what sounds like a single mic because Chris’ vocals sound distance, but it all sounds stunning. “Front Porch Sermon” almost sounds like old school country with banjos and that down home beat. This band was too far removed from where they ended up, but there were some differences for sure. Still a great song and cool to have such an early release.
THE HOMECOMING CONCERT: Atlanta, GA December 1990:
The other gem of the set is the live show. The Homecoming Concert was from December 20, 1990 in Atlanta, GA recorded at Center Stage which is a great venue for a show as I have been there several times (sadly, not for this show though). The first LP on this show gives you 10 tracks and let me tell you they sound like a well-oiled seasoned machine already this short in to making it. Chris is a hellaciously good frontman and brother rich laying down some great rhythm and lead guitarist Jeff Cease was laying down some riffs and solos. The drumming was loud and spectacular by Steve Gorman and Johnny Colt tied up that rhythm section nice and tight on the bass. The band was on fire that night as it was such a special night for the band to be back home and on a rocketship to stardom. One of the highlghts for me was “You’re Wrong” with some slide guitar slashing through the song and the band had so much energy and you could feel it emanating from the speakers.
Chris already had so much confidence and his stage presence was crazy as he had that hometown crowd eating out of his hands. They blistered through so many songs and each one sounding better than the last. Damn, I hate I missed this show. They did a great cover of Bukka White’s “Shake ‘Em On Down” with Rich Robinson destroying that slide guitar and then right in to a cover of “Get Back” by The Beatles to close out the first LP and you have to take a minute to catch your breathe before dropping the needle on the second LP.
The second LP is only 4 songs. That is right 4 jammed pack full of jamming goodness. So much jamming that “Words You Throw Away” is over 13 minutes. I don’t see where this song was ever released and I believe I read somewhere that the song would eventually warp in to the song “Remedy” off the bands follow-up album. Don’t quote me on that though. I hear a little bit of the melody in the verses. The band closes out the show with “Jealous Again” and what a way to go out. The show ended so quickly that why not throw it on again. The Black Crowes were in the groove that night and they show what a great live band they were.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE:
And look at all that musical goodness you get with this box set. Well worth the price and well worth your time. You will spend a lot of time with the extras and listening to that show over and over as I have done. This is a must for The Black Crowes fan as I would easily get this a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I said earlier they check all the boxes off for a solid box set with the Unreleased tracks & demos as well as a live show from that era!! Check and Check!!!