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

Three decades after almost single-handedly taking the hard rock goes acoustic format mainstream Sacramento’s finest sons Tesla recently returned to the now well worn set-up for an intimate invitation only show at London’s Abbey Road Studios to record a set of songs in homage to the original ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’.

Captured in 4K High-Definition both sonically and visually ‘Five Man London Jam’ is more than just a re-run of that Platinum selling 1990 opus though, with only five tracks common across both releases, although granted the more pedantic fan might argue its six if you want to include opener ‘Comin’ Atcha Live/Truckin‘ as two songs rather than one.

Once past the common ground of the introductory track what follows is a mixture of tracks from Tesla’s 2019 album ‘Shock’ (‘Tied To The Tracks’ getting a cowboy booted foot in early doors with ‘California Summer Song’ and ‘Forever Loving You’ forming the mid-set spine) all lined up alongside some of their perhaps lesser known tracks from their back catalogue such as ‘Miles Away’ and ‘Into The Now’ from the band’s 2004 by the same name. There are also three cuts from 1991’s much overlooked ‘Psychotic Supper’ album in the shape of ‘What You Give’, ‘Call It What You Want’ and ‘Stir It Up’ to look forward to. Whilst of the remaining five original ‘Acoustic’ tracks the re-visiting of The Beatles ‘We Can Work It Out’, recorded in the very studio it was first recorded in, plus the whole seven and half minutes of ‘Love Song’, which brings this set to a close, are both in equal measures enthralling and magical.

If I were to be slightly critical of the thirteen (look I’m counting the opener as one track okay) song set is that reviewing it as I am here without the visuals it does get a tad one paced towards the middle of the set, and it takes a fantastic version of ‘Into The Now’ to truly get me back in the groove, also though on a more positive note it’s great to hear the ‘Shock’ tracks live and devoid of the overproduction which I personally felt marred their last studio record.

Look, I once stayed up until 4 am in a freezing cold Centre Stage at Minehead Butlins to watch Tesla deliver a show stealing set of songs to an audience that by that time in the morning largely resembled how I would imagine a war zone might look. So me, I’ll take that rough memory with the smoothness of ‘Five Man London Jam’ any day of the week just for the pleasure of being able to hear the awesome vocals of Jeff Keith.

What I will never be able to get my head around though is how Tesla have never really become the arena rocking behemoths they so rightly deserved to be, a bit like their heroes UFO I guess.

Buy ‘Five Man London Jam’ Here


Author: Johnny Hayward


There was always more to Duff McKagan than just being the punk dude bassist from Guns n’ Roses. That much was evident on ‘Believe In Me’, his first solo album, released way back in 1993.

That album was recorded on downtime during the massive ‘Use Your Illusions’ world tour. Similarly, ‘Tenderness’ was written and recorded during Guns recent ‘Not In This Lifetime’ world tour. The difference? 25 years of sobriety, 25 years of losing friends to addiction and depression, and 25 years of life experiences and raising a family in a world that is increasingly dangerous and more fucked up by the day.


As the title suggests, ‘Tenderness’ is a much more sombre and reflective body of work than anything Duff has ever recorded. Observations of life on the road during Guns world tour gave the inspiration, and musically, it’s stripped bare. A rootsy, rock record, more akin to Exile-era Stones than the sleazy, Sunset Strip that made the band (and the man) famous.

Hooking up with Shooter Jennings to produce and shape his first solo album since those hedonistic days was a masterstroke. Like he did a couple of years back with Leroy Virgil from Hellbound Glory (check out the marvelous ‘Pinball’ album), Shooter used his own backing band to help sprinkle Nashville style magic all over the album.

Now, this backing band is like a modern day version of The Band, proper cool cats. I saw them perform 2 sets in a night at The Whisky-A-Go-Go, one with Hellbound Glory and then another with Shooter. They will be doing the same on Duff’s forthcoming European tour. When this rhythm section of bassist Ted Russell Kamp and drummer Jamie Douglass get together with fiddle player Aubrey Richmond and John Schreffler Jr on guitar, some sort of magic happens. It’s no surprise they are Shooter’s go-to guys. He knows what sound he needs and they deliver.


The title track opens the album and sets the scene. “Blackened days, we’ve lost our way” sings Duff over Shooter’s haunting piano, it sets the scene for the next 45 minutes. The country-tinged arrangement is perfection and the sentiment delivered with sincerity. The sparse musicianship never overplayed, just enough in all the right places to accentuate the melodies and the vocals.

By the time the last chorus is played out, you already have the desire to gather the ones you love and sing along in unison. Moving stuff indeed.

The social commentary Duff is laying out is perfect for these trying times and it’s something we can all relate to. “Turn off the screen, take a long walk and meet your fellow man…it’s not too late’ he sings on the following ‘It’s Not Too Late’, delivered with sincerity over mournful pedal steel and heartfelt violins.

The juxtaposition of the sweet music and the honest lyricism is on point and Duff is not afraid to tackle any subject, from addiction and homelessness to school shootings and abuse. Take ‘Last September’, a hard-hitting, yet beautifully delivered countrified look at the ‘#metoo’ movement.  A lone acoustic breaks the silence like a ‘Nebraska’ outtake, before haunting, choral backing vocals join the lead vocals. Fragile, almost to the point of breaking. “She said no, he said yes, he held her down and choked her neck”. The hard-hitting lyrics are brutal and to the point, sung over laid-back, bare-bones Americana.


On a personal highlight, Shooter teases out Duff’s Johnny Thunders influences on ‘Wasted Heart’. The soaring vocals and sweet brass courtesy of The Suicide Horn Section (featuring Duff’s brother Matt McKagan on trombone) is sublime to these ears.

The hard-hitting ‘Parkland’ name-checks the schools affected by shootings and highlights the crazy US gun laws. It could have easily come across as being cheesy, but it’s handled in just the right way by someone who has bought up daughters in that environment. The more upbeat ‘Chip Away’ has a killer Rolling Stones vibe, as Duff drawls about smoking crack over Hammond organ, skiffle beats and handclaps that take us to church…divine.

Elsewhere, the hickey, hard luck story of ‘Breaking Rocks’ is brilliant in its simplicity. It fits the bill nicely, as Duff’s wavering vocals meet in a great duet with Shooter himself. Mental wah-wah guitars seal the deal. A song to sit on the porch and drink moonshine too.

The album closes with the reflective ‘Don’t Look Behind You’. Riding on acoustic and sparse accompaniment, before veering into almost lounge territory as the brass section are left to their own devices, with even a saxophone solo for good measure.


Duff McKagan has nothing to prove. He’s been there and done it all. He’s been (right next door) to hell and back and survived to become a better man. But every great musician needs to create and right now Duff has something to say and recording this album is the best thing he could’ve done.

For me, it’s as good as, if not better than Izzy’s Ju Ju Hounds, and it’s up there with Gilby’s ‘Pawnshop Guitars’.

As with past Guns n’ Roses members solo albums, ‘Tenderness’ will go largely unnoticed by the music buying (or streaming) public, which is a crying shame, as it is one of the finest releases this year and probably the best thing the man has put his name to since ‘Appetite For Destruction’.

Buy ‘Tenderness’ Here


Author: Ben Hughes