The Black Crowes recalled how they helped reinvigorate the early-’90s rock scene by going retro. Recently released is the deluxe reissue of the band’s 1990 debut set, Shake Your Money Maker, which is now out as a four-LP and triple-CD set.
During a new chat with Uncut, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson looked back at the album and recalled how it found its place in modern rock, with Rich remembering, “A song like ‘Jealous Again,’ that was the stepping stone for the rest of the album. That was when Chris and I brought something to the band that we could tell was something different and was taking us in a more serious, maybe more adult, direction. We opened for a band called Drivin N Cryin in Nashville at the EXIT/IN and we played that at the soundcheck and they all turned round and were saying, ‘Holy s***, what was that?’ They were a bigger band but it caught their attention.”
He went on to say that playing music that was such an obvious call back to an earlier era was unheard of: “If you look at what was happening musically at the time, it was crazy. Like what kind of jackass puts out an Otis Redding song in the middle of hair metal? Who writes ‘Seeing Things,’ which was basically our attempt to write a Stax song? Even ‘She Talks To Angels’ was the antithesis of a power ballad. Nobody expected that record to do what it did, at all.”
Frontman Chris Robinson said that the Crowes’ heroes treated them as true believers and keepers of the flame: “Joe Cocker hugged me the first time he met me. It meant Ronnie Lane came to a show in his wheelchair just before he died. Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, AC/DC, so many of our heroes. They were saying thank you because in 1990 nobody gave a s***about 1972. Our heroes couldn’t identify with anybody else.”
Rich Robinson played a key role in bringing it all back home for a slew of ’80s-era guitarists that simply couldn’t ride the hair band wave at the turn of the decade. We asked him about the gear he was using on the Shake Your Money Maker tour — which included some high profile gigs supporting Aerosmith: “I had, like, three guitars. I had a Tele(caster), a Les Paul, and then I bought a (Les Paul) Junior. So, either I bought a single-cutaway tobacco sunburst Junior, or it was T.V. yellow Standard. I didn’t get a (Gibson) 335 until the end of (the) Moneymaker (tour). And, so, I remember, I got it and I used it for (The) Southern Harmony (And Musical Companion sessions). That’s when. . . kind of, when I got home I got it and that was it. And so, yeah, on ‘Hard To Handle’ on (the) Aerosmith (tour), I remember I had that T.V. yellow Les Paul Special.”