Amorica was the Crowes 3rd album in a four-year period following on the coattails of 2 hugely successful records, Shake Your Moneymaker & Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. The musical maturation that they showed between Money Maker and Southern Harmony continued on Amorica. While Moneymaker was a clean sounding rock record that had many declaring them the next coming of the Rolling Stones, Southern Harmony was a grittier, bluesy dark album. That gritty sound was continued on Amorica. Unfortunately for the band neither the critics or record buying came along for the ride like they had for the previous 2 efforts. That’s a shame, because Amorica is an underrated piece of raw rock and roll that could have easily have been called Southern Harmony part 2. Chris Robinson’s vocals are as pure and gritty as on any other offering from the band and the absence of a “radio friendly” single cannot diminish that fact. The record got off to a bumpy start before it was even on the shelves. A controversy broke out because of the album cover, which was a picture that was on the cover of the bicentennial issue of Hustler magazine in the mid ’70’s. Apparently some people were offended by pubic hair peeking out of the American flag bikini.The lead single from this album was “A Conspiracy” whose main riff was reminiscent of Remedy from the previous record. The song did receive some airplay but failed to capture as much attention as previous singles and faded away quickly and quietly. Some of the songs off this disc are still my favorite Crowes tunes. “Non-Fiction” is a beautiful slower tempo song that spotlights Chris’ whiskey soaked voice and focuses on his playful writing (while you pull your hair out, I buy the drinks at the bar….today the sunset burned my eyes…clouds conspirer above my head). While it is a ballad of sorts it is definitely not She Talks To Angels. The Crowes stood true to themselves and their art…really it was just a matter of the listening public changing not the band. Tunes like She Gave Good Sunflower and High Head Blues manage to maintain their hippie sensibilities put in time to their southern soaked guitar based blues. While I like the whole album I do have a personal favorite on this offering. Wiser Time is one of those great times that just make you tap your toes and sing along to. Great beat, excellent guitar work, a mid tempo song that transforms to a crunching chorus with Chris’ lyrics at the top of his game (and on a good day, well I know it ain’t everyday…we can part the sea…and even on a bad day, I know it ain’t everyday…glory beyond our reach). It was on this record the Crowes went from being the hot rock act of the day and settled themselves respectably into a hard rocking, drug fueled bluesy touring band. If you have the first 2 Black Crowes records in your collection and like it but don’t own this one…WTF?
other Black Crowes on this blog: