Picks and Pans Review: Three Snakes and One Charm

updated 07/29/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/29/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes' rough-edged spontaneity on their records suggests that the group spend more time coming up with cool titles (such as The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion) than they do polishing their tunes in the studio. But while their ragged sound isn't always successful (check out 1994's limp amorica—or, better yet, don't), when it works (as on 1992's Southern Harmony), the Crowes really fly.

With Three Snakes, the Atlanta sextet are once again aloft. The honky-tonk gospel of "Good Friday" and the rhythmic strum of "How Much for Your Wings?" recapture the knock-'em-dead sonics that made Southern Harmony such a fine musical companion. As usual, ace singer Chris Robinson swaggers breathlessly, but his lyrics could use some inspiration: Prattle like "Hey, blueberry/ Look at my bumblebee" threatens to send the Crowes crash-landing. Good thing he's got his brother to fall back on; when Rich lets loose with the crisp guitar riffs of "Nebakanezer" and "(Only) Halfway to Everywhere," the Crowes nearly whip Rod Stewart and the Stones at their own blue-eyed soul game. (American Recordings)

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