Front Porch Sermon – The Black Crowes

Hold Up! Wait a Minute. There are six words in this post title. Three of them are inaccurate. This could be a our Watergate moment. Our Deep Throat. The entire SFTD ecosystem could come crashing down. Front Porch Sermon is not (technically, legally or actually) a song by The Black Crowes. It predates the band. Just like those Wicked Lester demos that make it onto Kiss compilations or the first track on Aerosmith’s Pandora’s Box actually being Steven Tyler’s old band The Chain Reaction. When The Who did this on their Hit’s 50 comp a few years back, they finally gave me my first listen to The High Numbers. So I think, if the defence may approach the bar Mi’lud, we’re OK with the track from the $hake Your Money Maker 30th Anniversary Edition I’m posting in my end of year round up. While I am posting it as ‘One of the tracks of my year’. It is my contention that we’re all OK with it being called a Black Crowes song. Even if it was actually recorded when they were still called Mister Crowes Garden. Over 30 years ago. We have the Wicked Lester case as precedent Your Honour. The defence calls Ace Frehley as star witness.

The tune lacks the bluster and swagger of Twice As Hard or Jealous Again. It’s a chilled out piece of southern bluegrass. A bit The Band at play and a lorra lorra Americana. While Brother Rich is finger pickin’ and the band are playing a jug band banjo and soap box percussion, that voice is an instant give away.

Chris Robinson in his youth. A clean clear forever in tune and easy to hear sound. They walk the dog, they use a little churchin’ up and they no doubt bring it on home. This music would never have found the band major players on the world stage alone but you get the impression this is a doodle. Always was. Just a wander up and down the road. Their musicality is clearly on show. The band are tight. This isn’t amateur hour but they’re at ease on Front Porch Sermon. It’s like they started with a B-Side. Intentionally. After decades of heavy use rock and roll, disco tinged double live albums, solo projects that jam deep and long and a dalliance with St Jimmy Of Page in their discographies, to hear them playing pure clean untainted folk is rather disarming. Clean cut kids jamming a quaint little number. Unaware of what’s to come.

Hotel Illness, Warpaint, Down Town Money Wasters and snakes that outnumber the charms were just a few sleeps away. $hake Your Money Maker is an iconic debut album. The real rock and rollers know that Southern Harmony was the real high water mark though. Then we had the dark heart of Amorica and all that came after. The three disc edition of the debut album was one of my major record buying delights in 2021. I got all excited about Charming Mess early doors. The following pre-release peeks at their John Lennon and Humble Pie covers had my money down before I’d even seen the price tag. I was all in. There were B-Sides I already knew cleaned up and fitting in alongside the unheard stuff. There was a shiny new remaster of the album of course (I’ll be honest, I can’t hear much difference to the vinyl copy I bought 30 years ago in Soho) and there’s a live disc. The live disc is a fizzing, crackle loaded delight. A Bottled vintage of a year end home town heroes show right at the point they were about to hit the atmosphere. It is an extraordinary recording. Right place, perfect timing.

If you haven’t got a copy of the three CD Special edition yet, there’s still time for Santa to have a word with Mister Crowe and see what he can pick for you from his Garden. I have seen the light as if it were a star in the night sky beaming back to me from 30 years ago. Preach!

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