POP MUSIC REVIEW : The Black Crowes Come to Roost at the Cathouse

It’s pretty much an accepted order of business that most hard-rock bands these days reprocess Aerosmith grooves the way Aerosmith processed Stones grooves, and the Stones processed the Delta blues. Every so often, a band will skip a generation backwards--last year’s Cream-flavored Masters of Reality LP, for example. And with the possible exception of the Sex Pistols, there hasn’t been a major white rock band since the ‘60s that hasn’t been accused of being derivative of something.

The Black Crowes, an Atlanta-based group who played their first big local show at the Cathouse on Tuesday, are more readily compared with something like the young Faces than with any of the current crop of MTV rockers. Aerosmith’s earliest Boston gigs must have been a little like this.

Singer Rich Robinson has a big, raspy tenor like the pre-disco Rod Stewart; the rhythm section is tight, crunchy and square. The Crowes have obviously listened to their share of AC/DC records, too. The Crowes are that rare thing, a riff-rock band with hooks.

There’s a sweet affectlessness about them, a feeling that they give in to rock cliche as a matter of instinct, not pretense--if they’d opened for the Zep at the Whisky 20 years ago, nobody would have blinked an eye.


Then again, they’re produced by Def American’s extremely cynical George Drakoulias, and are the latest wards of Rick Rubin, the most calculating man in rock ‘n’ roll; the affectlessness might be just another affect.