Shake Your Moneymaker (1990) (4 stars)
The fresh-out-of-high-school Crowes crashed the ’80s-hair-metal party with this raunchy, soulful roots-rock record, striving to ?nd their own sound by trying on the musical costumes of heroes like the Stones, The Faces and Humble Pie.
The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992) (5 stars)
Dripping with the humidity of a summer night on the Mississippi Delta, this gospel-fueled sludge-soul feast was the most de?nitive statement by a group of Southern artists since R.E.M.’s Murmur dreamily wrapped listeners’ eardrums in blankets of kudzu a decade earlier. This is the Crowes’ South—shrouded in creepy-gothic mystery and misery; brimming with wild ruin and blessed redemption.
Amorica (1994) (5 stars)
This often hostile and disaffected hard-psych-rock gem is the Crowes’
crowning achievement, a top-to-bottom classic that re?nes and expands upon the unique sound the band stepped into on Southern Harmony, adding equal measures of freaky abandon, gorgeous instrumentation and brutal self-examination.
Three Snakes And One Charm (1996) (4 stars)
Possibly the Crowes most underrated work, this album is a bleak, reckless push into the depths of a drug-fueled chasm from which it seemed the band might never return. The writing and arrangements are desperate and original, furiously grasping at the last grains of sand in an hourglass of fading youth and sanity.
By Your Side (1999) (2.5 stars)
After venturing so deep down the rabbit hole (and losing guitarist Marc Ford and bassist Johnny Colt in the process), the Crowes desperately needed some normalcy. The result is this slightly over-polished attempt at recapturing the more straight-ahead rock of Shake Your Moneymaker. It feels a bit like the Crowes impersonating themselves impersonating their early in?uences, but it still makes for a fairly satisfying listen.
Lions (2001) (2 stars)
Fresh off of the tour with Jimmy Page that yielded Live at the Greek, the Zeppelin in?uence occasionally peeks through on this record, though mellow funk and poppy folk and soul are just as prevalent. But the Crowes feel out of their element here—spinning wheels creatively and struggling to regain past greatness while Chris Robinson hits his absolute lyrical nadir.
Warpaint (2008) (4 stars)
Stripping back to the bare essentials, the Crowes dig deep, blending bluesy, funki?ed riff-rockers, honey-sweet country-soul ballads, snaky grooves, revved-up gospel testifying and a becoming Appalachian rootsiness, while a much-matured (now fortysomething father) Chris ?nds peace and clarity through some of his ?nest, most poetic storytelling to date.