THE BLACK CROWES HAPPINESS BASTARDS

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HAPPINESS BASTARDS

REVIEWER – GRAEME WRIGHT

I have a funny relationship with The Black Crowes. I loved ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ and it’s classy follow up ‘The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion’, but since then I’ve found most of their releases to contain a number of high quality songs but with a more eclectic mix at times that didn’t always hit the spot with me. The band went on hiatus from 2002 to 2005 and after reforming they have only released three studio albums, the last being in 2009. So, it’s been a long time since we had any new music from the band and I was really interested to see if they still had that fire in their bellies with the new release ‘Happiness Bastards’.

I could write a thousand words about this record, but the band have expressed it in a way that is short, sharp and to the point. “No gloss, no glitter just rhythm and blues at its very best- gritty, loud and in your face.” To add my two penn’orth to the dialogue, this is the best record the band has released since that amazing debut which appeared an incredible thirty-four years ago. It does exactly what it says on the tin in that it’s been stripped back down to the basics and is thirty-eight minutes of glorious old-style rock and roll with ten tracks of the highest quality.

The opener ‘Bedside Manners’ gives us a good idea of what is to follow. A mean slide guitar opening followed by an immediately catchy and rocking main break with Chris Robinson showing he’s still got the vocal chutzpah for this brand of high-energy time Rock and Blues. ‘Rats And Clowns’ is down and dirty and a real throwback stylistically to their early recordings. ‘Cross Your Fingers’ has a beautiful acoustic opening and sees the singer at his most soulful before it kicks in with a heavy old-school vibe before morphing into a proper Heavy Blues cut straight out of the seventies. ‘Wanting And Waiting’ has yet another massive groove about it and can safely stand alongside any song this band has ever recorded.

‘Wilted Rose’ is a collaboration with Country artist Lainey Wilson, but only leans slightly towards that side of the music spectrum while adding in a heavy dose of sultry Blues. This track is something of a departure compared to the rest of the album but it’s another great song and one that has been really well received since the release of the record. ’Dirty Cold Sun’ is an immediate and intense classic with a great gospel-style sound to it while ‘Bleed It Dry’ wouldn’t sound out of place in a twenties gin joint. ‘Flesh Wound’ ups the pace and is intensely upbeat musically compared to most of the tracks on this album, while ‘Follow The Moon’ has a big fat guitar sound to it and absolutely soars.

The album closes out to ‘Kindred Friend’, a beautiful song that leaves this album hitting at ten for ten. Make no mistake, this album is the best thing this band have released since the nineties and announces their return with a huge bang. If you like the early releases from The Black Crowes you will love this new record. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait fifteen years for the next collection of new music from this band!

BAND

Chris Robinson – Lead Vocals, Harmonica, acoustic guitar, percussion

Rich Robinson – Guitar, Backing Vocals

Sven Pipien – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

ALBUM TRACKLIST

1. Bedside Manners

2. Rats And Clowns

3. Cross Your Fingers

4. Wanting And Waiting

5. Wilted Rose (feat. Laine Wilson)

6. Dirty Cold Sun

7. Bleed It Dry

8. Flesh Wound

9. Follow The Moon

10. Kindred Friend

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