Tag Archives: Luther Dickinson

20 Years Of Tall Tales

No, not mine. Hell, I’ve been telling tall tales a lot longer than that.

20 Years of Tall Tales is the title of the web series The Black Crowes will roll out starting Tuesday August 3rd, which also happens to be the street date for their double album Croweology. I’m stoked to hear this collection of all-acoustic material; new arrangements of some of their best-loved classics as well as some choice deep cuts.

The Crowes have been around long enough to generate their own legacy of misdeeds, misunderstandings and folklore, and when you factor in a pair of (sometimes) battling brothers and a fiery independent spirit, the epic legacy is a bit daunting. So as a treat to fans and a middle finger to the naysayers, a series of webisodes were filmed at Chris Robinson’s home and will be released one per day at their website.

The press release says it all:

It’s all here: the highs, the lows, controversies, arrests, feuds and more.  20 Years of Tall Tales was directed and produced by John Vanover and filmed earlier this month at Robinson’s Los Angeles home.

• Did The Black Crowes – a band that has never played it musically or commercially safe and at times been crucified for it – really spend $1,000,000 recording an album (Tall) that went unreleased for more than a decade? 
• What really happened in that Denver convenience store that led to Chris’ arrest?  
• Why was the band really fired from the Aerosmith tour before being reinstated? 
• What really went on in the studio the night the band held a bacchanalia for the amorica album? 
• What really drives the relationship between Chris and his brother, guitarist
Rich Robinson?   
• How did the union of The Black Crowes and Oasis on the “Tour of Brotherly Love” actually cancel out the feuds of both bands’ brothers? 
• And what about the band’s recently announced lengthy hiatus that will begin when their upcoming “SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE BAD GUYS 2010” tour ends this year with an epic six-night stand in San Francisco at The Fillmore December 12-19?

Fasten your seat belts as The Black CrowesChris Robinson (vocals/guitar), Rich Robinson (guitar), Steve Gorman (drums), Sven Pipien (bass), Luther Dickinson (guitar) and Adam McDougall (keyboards)–share the ride in 20 Years of Tall Tales.

Megaforce Records

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Blast From The Past: Page/Crowes

Black Crowley Magic

Hard to believe that this collaboration between the Led Zeppelin guitarist and the Black Crowes was almost a decade ago, isn’t it? Maybe it was the similarity between “Crowes” and “Crowley” that confused the reclusive axeman enough to get him back onto the stage, but who cares? The combination of great rock band and legendary guitarist was magical…having that rich Zeppelin catalogue to draw upon wasn’t too shabby, either. 

Fourteen Zep covers, six blues tracks and two CDs that still snap today. Originally a digital-only release (as referenced in the review below), physical media soon followed for the Luddites among us. The Black Crowes have recently resurfaced with a vengeance and this set could slide right in, especially since their current incarnation features another guitar slinger, Luther Dickinson. Play this one loud! 

Here are my words from 2000 as they ran in PopMatters… 

 

The recording and distribution of live music is undergoing massive changes right along with the rest of the record industry. This 19 track, two-CD release may go down in history as the one that convinced everyone that the revolution was not going to be televised, it was going to be made available in digital format. MusicMaker is signing artists and labels up left and right, and a recent deal with AOL guarantees the kind of visibility that will turn conventional business, and even the infant digital download industry, on its ear. But you can read all about that on their website and the various news sources that are available to you. I came here to rock. 

The liner notes on my review copy are nonexistent, and I imagine that anything less than the full release will get the same treatment (a typed track listing on the back cover), although buyers should at least get the neat looking cover art. And sure, there are dumb nits to pick—“Shapes Of Things” is listed as “Shapes Of Things To Come”, and all the songs fade out and in (how else could you sequence your own record). But what counts is what is inside the jewel case, and for the most part that’s legendary Jimmy Page sounding genuinely inspired thanks to the prodding of the young turks backing him up. Likewise, The Black Crowes sound like they are having a blast going toe-to-toe with Page rather than treating him like an unapproachable icon. The result is some exciting rock and roll, Zep songs and blues covers that will thrill fans of both artists. 

The Robert Plant comparisons will naturally arise, and while Chris Robinson is more of a Steve Marriott man than a Plant guy, he usually hits the mark. Sure, he holds that note in “Whole Lotta Love” for only eight beats, but Plant can’t do that anymore either. And yes, on “Celebration Day” he does run out of steam at the end and sounds more like Bette Davis. But “Your Time Is Gonna Come” faithfully recreates one of Zep’s best moments, and “The Lemon Song,” “Hey Hey What Can I Do” and “Heartbreaker” are all major league keepers. And even though it’s jarring to hear “Heartbreaker” without “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” racing in a half-beat afterwards, it’s one of the highlights of the record. The keyboards add a great fullness to the three guitar lineup; songs like “Sloppy Drunk” and “Shake Your Money Maker” just plain rock. 

The minimum purchase is any five songs for five dollars, with additional songs one dollar each. “Oh Well” and “What Is And What Never Should Be” have even popped up as promotional freebies. But considering that the price of this collection is far less than any of your Crowes or Zep bootlegs, the sound quality is immensely superior, you can check out samples beforehand, you can order it piecemeal and (most importantly) the artists are not being screwed out of money in the process, what are you waiting for? Go get Live at the Greek now

Check out some clips at Amazon. 

In My Time of Dying

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New Album! Black Crowes

 black crowes warpaint

I’ll put my cards on the table and tell you that I did not slip this DVD in the player with an open mind. Since I thought Warpaint was the best album of 2008, I had high expectations for this show where the band played the album – in sequence – live. Show me, boyos.

But the Black Crowes did not falter, they delivered, and the performance left me pondering where Luther Dickinson belongs on the list of great guitar players. He is amazing.

The 2008/2009 configuration of the band might be the best ever. Chris Robinson is in great voice, and brother Rich doesn’t have to shoulder the pyrotechnics on guitar. The rhythm section is top notch, Sven Pipien and Scott Gorman are formidable and keyboard player Adam MacDougall is a secret weapon. A Black Crowes show is as much about atmosphere as it is about performance, and as they have shown us before, seeing is believing.

This is a rejuvenated band catching a second wind and maximizing the opportunity. I cannot wait to hear the new album that’s dropping today. But until it arrives? Yeah, this puppy will hold me over bigtime. Warpaint Live is a blast.

Read all about it in my review in Blurt.

Read my thoughts about the studio album Warpaint here.

black crowes peace

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R.I.P. Jim Dickinson

"As a producer, it really is all about taste."

"As a producer, it really is all about taste."

Damnnot a good week for Memphis.

If you’re reading the title of this post and thinking “who’s that?“…let me help you out: The Rolling StonesBig Star. Aretha Franklin. Bob Dylan. Flamin’ Groovies. Ry Cooder. Green On Red. Muscle Shoals. The Replacements. Delaney And Bonnie. Alex Chilton. Jason and the Scorchers. Willy DeVille. Sun Studios. The North Mississippi All Stars. Ardent Studios. And so on…

Accolades will pour in from the four corners of the Earth, but I hope a Memphis restaurant simply whips up a new dish and names it after the man. Call it “Dining with Dickinson”, a/k/a greasy, gutbucket, generational gumbo.

He lived, breathed and died Memphis soul and everything he put his producer’s ear, his piano playing or his veteran gut instincts on had that indelible fingerprint as well. Despite failing health, he continued to nurture artists and music that needed and deserved that veteran nudge. He had triple-bypass surgery in June, and when a recent benefit was announced to help defray the medical bills, people like John Hiatt signed on in a heartbeat.

Forty plus years of influence that will live on long past you and I…no sweeping exits or offstage lines.

A nice feature from Pop Culture Press by my pal Kent Benjamin.

“Down In Mississippi”

Wikipedia and All Music Guide entries.

Memphis Commercial Appeal obituary.

Even the babies must learn somehow.

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