I view Chris Robinson the same way I view things like Target or Lays potato chips – sometimes you just have to go there, and it’s usually not by choice. Robinson is well-known as the singer from The Black Crowes who appears to take sheer delight in doing his best to be as much like Pigpen from the Peanuts cartoons. The only thing Robinson is missing is that cloud of dirt that dances around Pigpen when he does anything. I mean, Kate Hudson? Come on!
I admit to liking The Black Crowes as a college freshman a little bit back in 1990, before I had discovered the other music universe out there (you know, the good one). In fact, I remember Amy Levy, this girl who lived in our dorm. She was one of those rich girls from Shaker Heights and I let her borrow the CD jacket because she wanted to paint something that was in there. I let her, of course, because she was a girl and I was nineteen. Of course, nothing ever happened.
I’m getting off topic. My point is that I really dislike The Black Crowes. It started when their third album came out (1994?) and it hasn’t ended. I don’t even like their first two records much anymore. Maybe a song here and there. I find it too damn derivative and after a while it just all sounded the same to me. However, over the past two years I’ve really, really been into a bootlegged solo show he did with fellow Crowe Marc Ford in Atlanta. It was given to me via Grouper.com (RIP) by an old college friend. The show is a collection of old traditional, blues and tasteful classic rock songs and for whatever reason, just hits a nerve for me. It’s excellent. So for those of you who hate The Black Crowes, I think you should give it a chance, because it might surprise you.
So I was delighted last week when I saw that Robinson was officially releasing another of those solo shows, this time with his brother Rich Robinson, recorded last year at the Roxy in Los Angeles. The sound is crisp and better than the Atlanta bootleg, but they both carry equal weight. Here’s two tracks, one from each recording. Again, I really think you’ll enjoy them. Let me know.
Chris Robinson & Marc Ford, Atlanta/Bootleg – “Old Dog Blue” (Traditional)
Chris Robinson & Rich Robinson, Los Angeles – “Roll ‘Um Easy”
(Lowell George/Little Feat cover)