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October 30, 1994|Chuck Crisafulli




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The Black Crowes speak the language of '70s rock, but they're more than an echo of the past. The Atlanta band has taken a load of lumps for its spirit of retro-decadence, but here they are--still standing proud in their flare-bottoms and with a third album that masterfully mixes up slinky guitar riffs and soulful vibes.

The songs are solid and lively, ranging from the stepping-out strut of "High Head Blues" to the confessional mega-ballad "Cursed Diamond," and on through to the back-porch twang of "Downtown Money Waster." Even better are the sounds--the music often becomes a playfully intense tangle of guitars, keyboards and percussion in support of singer Chris Robinson's fervent self-examinations.

Robinson's themes range from the somewhat spiritual to the decidedly carnal, and the band's ever-shifting sprawls of sound give each tune a powerfully distinct feel. Though the Crowes can still annoy just as much as they gratify, "Amorica" is an undeniably accomplished work. Dated fashions and snotty poses aside, the album's an engaging and exhilarating celebration of the rock 'n' roll groove. The attitude remains the same, but the music's gotten better.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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