Do You Remember: The Black Crowes “By Your Side’


Photo from Spotify

Mike Singer, Music Manager

For the second installment of the “Do You Remember” series I have chosen The Black Crowes  “By Your Side” from 1999.

 OK, so picture it, despite riding the high of 1996’s “Three Snakes and One Charm” which peaked at the No. 15 position, the Georgia native band was all over the place. By now, the original bassist, Johnny Colt and guitarist, Marc Ford had left the band and were replaced by Sven Pipien and Audley Freed. At this point, the brothers, lead singer Chris and his brother, guitarist Rich Robinson “almost broke up a few times” according to Chris when he spoke to “Guitar World” magazine.

 So, what happens when you’re on the verge of a breakup? You travel to New York City to start recording your fifth record at Avatar Studios in Hell’s Kitchen and voila, a year later, on January 12 the record was put out and a month later the band started their tour in support of the record.

 In all honesty, the record is one of my favorites from the band. I personally think that this record is a lot better than the three records that followed, 2001’s “Lions,” 2008’s “Warpaint,” and 2009’s ‘Before the Frost… Until the Freeze.” I would consider “By Your Side” to be the last great Black Crowes record that they made.

 The record has a track list of 11 different songs that run 45 minutes in total. Some of the highlights from the record are two of the singles and the first two songs off the album, “Go Faster,” and “Kickin’ My Heart Around.”

 A song is made based on the singles that it first puts out, that’s a given. Fans get excited when a band puts out the first few singles to their upcoming album. I think that some of the deep tracks on this record are what makes it so special.

 The first song which so happens to be track four, “Horsehead.” It starts out with a heavy Rich Robinson riff which is followed by an even heavier beat from drummer Steve Gorman. I really enjoy this song; I think it shows a heavier side of The Crowes that should be explored a lot more. If you are a fan that enjoys the studio version, I recommend the live version from 2007’s “Brother of a Feather: Live at the Roxy.”

The next underrated song off this record is “Welcome To the Goodtimes.” In a song that is on the complete opposite side of the music spectrum as “Horsehead,” this particular song contains the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as well as sleighbells that are heard throughout the song.

 What I love most about this song is that it’s so light and it really parts the listener in a good mood. On top of the light and happy mood it gives off, it’s just completely different in terms of The Black Crowes type of music. If you do end up listening and liking this song, I will suggest the acoustic version of this song that can be found on 2010’s “Croweology.”

 Now, it’s time for my favorite two songs off the record and two songs that I strongly believe should be included in the setlist and given more recognition than it gets.

 The first song, “Diamond Ring,” is a mellow song with a great riff from Robinson and Freed. Written presumably about a woman that makes a man feel like the luckiest man on the planet it’s a very upbeat song. The use of the background vocalists on this so also enhances Chris Robinsons’ vocals and really highlights his vocal range perfectly.

 With lyrics like “you’re the reason. I want to sing, you make me feel like a king, I love the sunshine that you bring, I think I’ll buy you a diamond ring,” it’s just an easy singalong song that is a lost and forgotten song in the Crowes treasure chest of music. It’s a perfect song that for some reason reminds me of springtime when it’s too cold in the morning yet too warm in the afternoon.

 The final song that has tied for my favorite off the record is “The She Said My Name.” This song which clocks in at 3:43 is one song that I wish would be thrown back into the setlist.

 It’s an upbeat song with roots in pop rock and in all honesty, I think it should have been a single off the record, it could have easily replaced “Only a Fool,” as the third single from the record.

 This song contains lyrics like “I never thought a love could be like this, then she said my name, now I’m wrapped around her finger, I’ll never be the same,” always gives me good vibes and it always reminds me of that time in May when school is wrapping up and people are moving out of the college dorms and it’s full steam ahead to summer break. This song is just a masterpiece from start to finish.

 I have said it a million times throughout this article, this record does not deserve to be brushed to the side like it essentially was due to mixed reviews. This record was the last great Black Crowes record before multiple hiatuses in the band’s history and three “okay: records.

 This is a record that should really be by your side… see what I did there? It’s a great record with multiple songs that get sprinkled into the current setlist, but most crowd’s reactions are usually, “oh it’s off that one record… dang I can’t seem to remember its name.”

 Fans of the band and rock fans need to check this record out because it deserves a lot more love than it was originally given and people need to see its full brilliance.