The Black Crowes Album Project: Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

The Black Crowes Album Project:
Shake Your Money Maker (1990)

Band Members:

Chris Robinson, vocals
Rich Robinson, guitar
Steve Gorman, drums
Johnny Colt, bass
Jeff Cease, guitar

Additional Musician:

Chuck Leavell, keyboards

Produced by:

George Drakoulias

Mitch’s Review:

The heart of The Black Crowes’ signature sound – Rich Robinson’s big guitar riffs, Steve Gorman’s heavy drumming and Chris Robinson’s distinctive blues-rock voice – is established immediately on their debut album Shake Your Money Maker. What follows is an impressive set of music that effortlessly blends blues, rock, soul, and gospel. While their energetic cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” foreshadowed their unique ability to choose perfect cover tunes and the heart-breaking “She Talks to Angels” established their skill at writing beautiful ballads, it’s unheralded songs like “Seeing Things for the First Time” and “Sister Luck” that showed a young band writing and performing at a level far beyond their years. Only at the very end of the album does the momentum tail off with a couple of generic blues rockers. All in all, Shake Your Money Maker is an excellent debut with 5 great songs, 5 good songs, 1 filler tune and no clunkers. Final Score: 3.4

1) Twice as Hard: 3
2) Jealous Again: 4
3) Sister Luck: 4
4) Could I’ve Been So Blind: 3
5) Seeing Things for the First Time: 4
6) Hard to Handle: 4
7) Thick ‘n Thin: 3
8) She Talks to Angels: 4
9) Struttin’ Blues: 2
10) Stare It Cold: 3
11) Live Too Fast Blues/Mercy Sweet Moan: 3

Don’s Review:

The 1980s almost killed rock and roll. With frighteningly few exceptions (early REM and U2 most prominently), it was a decade dominated by hair bands, cheesy metal and power ballads. Contemporary rock was so bad that “classic rock” became the dominant rock format on radio.

Then, out of nowhere, along came Shake Your Money Maker to ring in the 1990s, an uppercut to the jaw for the genre. It’s no wonder this new band, The Black Crowes, were immediately typecast as descendents of the early 1970s-era Rolling Stones and Faces. They were the most pure rock and roll band to debut since. Plus, they looked and sounded the part and made no apologies for it. What overshadows this, looking back, is that when one looks and listens under the surface, The Black Crowes had made themselves one hell of a record and one of the best debut albums in rock and roll history. That’s no exaggeration, whether measured in sales, song writing or performance.

Shake Your Money Maker has aged well. Listening to it straight through for the first time in years, I was reminded why I fell for this band – the first of my generation who seemed to really understand what I loved about rock and roll. I remembered one of Chris Robinson’s quotes from their only Rolling Stone cover story. He mentioned one of his favorite lyrics from his record collection: “the sunshine bores the daylights out of me” from “Rocks Off”, the first track on Exile in Main Street. It happened to be my favorite lyric, too. Clearly, the Crowes got it. And so they got me, too.

The unmistakable riff from “Twice as Hard” opens an album full of surprisingly well-crafted songs that make even excellent recent records by bands clearly influenced by the Crowes, like Kings of Leon, sound like child’s play. When rating the songs, I debated whether a few tracks like “Sister Luck”, “Seeing Things” and “Thick ‘N Thin” were “great” or “good” and have decided that 4s should be hard to come by. That’s why I scored them as 3s. But almost 20 years later, “Jealous Again” remains one of the Robinson brothers’ best straight up rockers. “She Talks To Angels” is as good a ballad as any rock band has made since. And no one – no one – has ever made a better cover than “Hard To Handle”. Final Score: 3.2

1) Twice as Hard: 3
2) Jealous Again: 4
3) Sister Luck: 3
4) Could I’ve Been So Blind: 3
5) Seeing Things: 3
6) Hard to Handle: 4
7) Thick ‘n Thin: 3
8) She Talks to Angels: 4
9) Struttin’ Blues: 2
10) Stare It Cold: 3
11) Live Too Fast Blues/Mercy Sweet Moan: 3

Up Next: 1992′s The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion

To learn more about The Black Crowes Album Project, please read the introduction.

###


Comments

The Black Crowes Album Project: Shake Your Money Maker (1990) — 1 Comment

  1. Wow congratulations sweet bfuetiual babe. The highs and lows are such a feature of having a newborn aren’t they? I am sure after that long wait and the birth experience you are bound to feel a tad strange! Even if very happy. I really good piece of advice I was given when I had my second child was this:1. From 4pm to 7pm are the hardest part of the day you’ve been up for ages and your first born is tired too. Make sure you eat carbs to keep energy up at that time of day!2. Trying to make everything cheerful for the sake of the first child is exhausting. I was very keen not to appear blue, even though I really was. I was reminded that every family has some times of futility and arguing and snapping and that is normal. My efforts to keep it all on an even keel were in vain. It was important that my first born saw that things were hard for me after all, we are only human.3. It’s all a phase everything in parenthood is! It becomes even more evident when there are more children to deal with!Take care,Lou x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>