Right. let’s deal with the rather obvious elephant in the room first and foremost shall we? Because if this really were a 30th Anniversary celebration of The Black Crowes awesome ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ debut album, this release should have happened in February 2020, not 2021. However, given what has been going on globally these past 12 months I’m more than prepared to let that not so insignificant detail slide, for now.
However, what I’m not about to let slide is the fact that almost a month before the February 26th 2021 street date of this release, I suddenly get an email from Universal telling me that my pre-order of the Super Deluxe 4xLP box set has somehow been pushed back to 19th March 2021 with no further explanation offered. That I’m sure you will agree is not exactly an ideal situation, not for the band or most importantly their fans, who will have already shelled out over £75 for one of these sets. Then there’s also the mix-up on a certain well-known online retailing platform regarding the CD Deluxe Edition and the CD Softpack Edition (both of which did actually make the February 26th release date) that has also left some other fans less than happy.
So, with all this in mind, what I’m actually reviewing here is a stream of the audio from the Super Deluxe set, for the packaging and all the extras that come with it you’ll just have to cast an eye over the attached promotional photograph and hope that the finished sets do actually still contain the same goodies (they are set to include a reproduction of an early Mr. Crowe’s Garden show flyer, setlist and tour laminate, a 4″ Crowes patch plus a 20-page book with liner notes by David Fricke) by the time Universal get around to shipping them to us.
But what about the music I hear you cry? Well, of course kicking this set off in true style we have the five times platinum debut studio record from the Georgia based rockers. Originally released in February 1990 and here remastered by George Drakoulias. To be honest though to my ears I couldn’t really detect anything significantly new or different listening once again to the 11 tracks that make up the album, but then as I’ve always loved the way the original record sounded, if there are actually any tweaks or corrections made then it’s certainly nothing on the scale of those say done by Giles Martin for the Super Deluxe Beatles reissues. What should never be in question here though, is just how truly special a debut album The Black Crowes produced for their then new label Def American. You really would have to be dead from the neck up not to be in some way moved by the likes of ‘Sister Luck’, ‘She Talks To Angels’ and ‘Seeing Things’ and dead from the waist down if you don’t immediately feel the need to shake a tail feather of two when the likes of ‘Twice As Hard’, ‘Stare It Cold’ or ‘Think n’ Thin’ come powering out of your speakers. This really is the type of music that feather haircuts, flowery shirts and Chelsea boots were all invented for, as the band themselves just oozed cool from the cover through to the aforementioned songs themselves.
Next up, and probably the real reason any Black Crowes fan will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on this set (whichever of the six different versions you do eventually decide to buy) we have the first of the additional material included via a set of tunes brought together under the collective banner of ‘More Money Maker: Unreleased Songs and B-Sides’. Featuring ten tracks in total, and boasting three never-before-heard studio recordings plus two unreleased demos from the band’s early incarnation as Mr. Crowe’s Garden this proves to be an interesting delve into the ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ archive with my own person highlights being ‘Charming Mess’ (which sounds like a possible Rod Stewart lawsuit just waiting to happen) along with a faithful (and most excellent) rendition of Humble Pie’s ‘Thirty Days In the Hole’. However, if I’m truly honest here, it’s the previously unreleased concert recorded in their hometown of Atlanta, in December 1990 that makes up the final disc/s of this set that really is the golden ticket hidden within the 2 hours and 45 minutes of music contained within this set.
For anyone who was lucky enough to witness those early nineties Crowes live shows (I still have the physical and mental scars from their frenetic London Astoria support slot with The Dogs D’Amour) this live set is truly what the band were all about back then. This is REAL rock ‘n’ roll baby, complete with mandatory low-slung guitars and cigarettes in the corner of the mouth, and by God do they sound magnificent across the thirteen songs contained here.
From the breakneck opener of ‘Thick n Thin’ through to the swaggering gig closer ‘Jealous Again’ this really is essential stuff and the jam band the Crowes would soon become is thankfully at this point nothing but a hazy half idea hidden away somewhere within the Robinson’s brains. It’s something that is kind of alluded to during ‘Words You Throw Away’ which crops up towards the end of this set as it does clock in at thirteen minutes plus. However, there is real fun to be had here, simply by playing “Spot The Future Crowes Song” as this epic must contain at least three other song ideas that would eventually make it onto a future Crowes’ releases. Good luck figuring them out!
The Black Crowes live in 1990 simply took no prisoners and were clearly heading for fame and fortune as the riotous crowd response during a glorious ‘Hard To Handle’ proves and whilst this debut is a stunner, there was (I’m sure you’ll agree) an even better record (or two) to come from the band in the years that immediately followed.
This Super Deluxe Edition then is a wonderful musical snapshot of early Black Crowes, and pre-egos its great to be able to once again listen to Chris, Rich, Johnny, Steve and Jeff fully locked in and working together as a solid cohesive unit. Ideally, I would have liked to have also seen something like the June 1990 Pinkpop Festival live video included here as a DVD (I’m sure the Robinson’s have many live videos in their archive) along with the promo videos and some TV interviews/live sessions (like the two song MTV Unplugged mini-set) to truly bring to life some of the visual elements of the band I mention above, plus you then truly get to see then the buzz that passed between the band and their audience. As it is though ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ totally gets a whole new lease of life with this box set, and I look forward to finally receiving it, hopefully very soon.
Buy Shake Your Money Maker 2021 Here
Author: Johnny Hayward