The Black Crowes, “Wiser for the Time” (CD review)

(originally published in Relix)

crowesThe Black Crowes, “Wiser for the Time” (Silver Arrow/Megaforce)

Farewell tour? Thankfully, two decades weren’t enough for The Black Crowes.

Celebrating their relaunch, Chris and Rich Robinson and their mostly long-running bandmates are releasing 26 tunes from a five-night New York City run from the band’s half-acoustic, half-electric 2010 tour—the tracks are available on four vinyl LPs and via digital download.

Some hits are here, with an unplugged “Jealous Again” spiked with honky-tonk piano and Rich’s sprawling slide solo, and a version of “She Talks to Angels” pumped up with the kind of emotional drama and musical intensity that the Crowes bring on their best nights. There are more peaks than valleys, with highlights including an ambling “Smile;” a backwoods-stomping “Garden Gate;” a boozy, bluesy “Darling of the Underground Press;” a gospel-charged “Soul Singing;” a nicely crunchy, distortion-edged “Exit;” and an aptly raucous “Tied Up & Swallowed.”

Wiser or not, the Crowes still bring the revved-up R&B and rawk.

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