ROCK THE BLACK CROWES
Barrowland, Glasgow, Tue 17 Jul.
Welcome to Amorica, founded by the Pilgrim Fathers, our homesteads were built on huge patches of patchoulia scented crushed velvet and when the light fades smoky voices speak in hushed tones of their amorality with benign sexism and then we dance to the solid riffs of the Pagan one.
The Black Crowes seem to have been with us forever, but always at one removed from our so called progressive communities, their world is not ours but we love them for it. They are the Rock ‘n’ Roll embodiment of Eliot’s dictum that ‘Everything that is new is thereby automatically traditional’.
Formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1984 the two brothers Rich and Chris Robinson - were R&B blue bloods — their dad Stan having had a hit in 1959 with ‘Boom A Dip Dip’. Through the 805 the band worked their spandexed arses off against the dying winds of disco and the sudden gusts of US punk/indie and in March 1990, under the guidance of Rick Rubin, released their superb debut Shake Your Money Maker.
Trailered by the high chart ranking of their ballsqueezing version of Otis Redding’s ‘Hard To Handle’ the album was a refreshing blast of Cajun rock and became a multi-platinum seller. Good, solid if slightly less inspired albums
Still shakin’ their moneymaker. . .
followed - Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992), Amorica (1994) better known for its filthy sleeve than the music within, Three Snakes and One Charm (1996), By Your Side (1999) and now the flawed but occassionally very lovely Lions.
This, their sixth album, takes a while to get going but songs like ‘Greasy Grass River’, ‘Cosmic Friend’ and ‘Cypress Tree’ are as sleazin Zeppy as their best tunes. They are, as the late, lamented Meldoy Maker said still having fun being -‘The Most Rock ‘n' Roll Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World’.
It is for their live performances however that The Black Crowes need to be celebrated. Their gigs are beds of post-hippie rock glamour, free of pretence and full hard blues and heavy riffs. They have partnered everyone from Jimmy Page to Oasis with exhilerating results. There is also something charmingly uncorporate about the Crowes. Perhaps its the Grateful Dead policy they take at concerts - allowing home taping or the fact that drummer Steve Gorman has an off shoot from the official website where you can ask him stupid questions. Or it could just be that the only thing you could ever imagine these good old boys doing in a boardroom is having sex with sweet faced flower chicks and licking grains of powder off the wood veneer. Rock cliches, love ‘em mate and live these boys are the biggest and the best. (Paul Dale)
HIP HOP JURASSIC 5 Arches, Glasgow, Thu 19 Jul.
Something old, something new, something borrowed and kazoos
Two LA rap crews. Unity Committee and Rebels of Rhythm, merged in 1993 to form the rather less idealistically-titled Jurassrc 5. lt‘s unlikely however. that any of its members (rappers Chali 2na. Akil. Zaakrr and Mark 7even, DJ's Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist) could have anticipated the enormous breath of fresh air
they w0uld later produce with their self-titled EP in 1996.
It was the kind of record that transcended any notions of genre snobbery. Most everyone who was exposed to the instant good vibes of ‘Concrete Schoolyard' or 'Jayou’ needed to get hold of that vinyl. Its naturally old-school flavours: Afrika Bambaataa. Cold Crush Brothers. De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. was for many a welcome relief from the overt machismo of the gangsta rap scene and the prohibitively political stylings of the hip-hop hardliners. Their modus operandi. 'Playground tactics. No Rabbit in a hat tricks. Just that classic rap shit from Jurassic'. encapsulates the Jurassic 5 philosophy perfectly.
Last year's Quality Contro/ album was. however. the less Vital sound of Jurassic. The step-up to maior label lnterscope appears to have softened their focus.
although as the group themselves readily admit. the live stage is where it all comes together.
Anyone who witnessed their debut trip to these shores Will find it difficult to extract the image of four fully-grown MC's creating a caCOphony of kazoos at a hip- hop show. The vocal dexterity of the four rappers is also often praised. Collectively they have a musicality that's increasmgly rare in the hip-hop field. equally at ease With four part harmonies as with their individual lyrical flows.
It's certainly true that Jurassic 5 wear their influences on their sleeves. as Cut Chemist says. ‘I‘d be a fool to say we're not heavily influenced by the old-school'. but if all this seems a little too cool for you. please bear in mind Cut Chemist's biggest musical influence. 'Laurie Anderson! l heard Big Science when l was ten. That shit fucked my head up!‘ Ourte. lSteven Clark)
FOLK MICHAEL MARRA Folk Club, Edinburgh, Wed 11 Jul.
The song's the thing for Michaei Maria ~ but panting then‘. exert the prqt‘ess of thinking about t'nitilid then‘. t‘art become a 24 7 operation, and that. he says is obsessiw "It‘s as if l as a photographer and has always looking through the lens l knew that there's times l shouldn't be \‘.l|llllg] all the time'
But the Dunde ;rltllilf§l guitarist *5; certainly prolific. \‘r'ltll nev. lxe album High Sobriety ready to go. another North American IOur iust completed. his last album Posted Sober still selling like hot pics and ‘.‘.'ltll a maior label deal imminent. He's poised to take his unique", skilful moving music further than ever before ~ even it it won't get him the ()ll‘.’lC(l \‘antage pOint accorded one singing guitarist. 'I heard about this Russian cosmonaut on Mll’. The two other guys wem going back >~ leaving him on his own and he worked out he only needed a few hours each day to accomplish his tasks. So he spent the rest of the time looking out of the Window. learning to play the guitar and writing songs. As you would.‘
Keeping an eye on the stars
Marra's own songs are as eclectic as it gets. often surreal, and wryly amusuig about love gone wrong — as in one of his most recent. “I've got one about people who contact each other through newspapers. Lonely Hearts. One 2 One. That son of thing. I was thinking about the obVious problems — and then the whole song, which had started light ~ began to become very dark. and l ended up haying to change its name -, from ‘Cupid Stunts'.‘
You'll hear the new title at his gig, along wrth a few songs not composed by the Lochee Bard. Always an admirer of others work. Marra admits to a soft spot fer those wonderful mid- 20th century stage and film songwriters like. for instance. Hoagy Carmichael. ‘l've been deing his ‘Skylark' a lot lately. The thing is. if you play and srng these great songs. you hear what they've done - you appreCiate what the composer has done and the atoms pass through you. The echoes don't die'
5—19 Jul 206'. THE LIST 49