So I started this morning scanning Facebook entries and noticed a few posts regarding today being the 50th birthday of one Axl Rose. One of those posts linked to a song from the band’s national coming out party, an installment of MTV’s “Live At The Ritz” series. Back in the pre-dreads, pre-raincoat era. But I’d certainly opt for a raincoat covered Axl over a shirtless one these days.

Anyway…every time I see a reference to G&R’s appearance of “Live At The Ritz”, I am instantly reminded that the same night it debuted on MTV, there was a show at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill (at least, this is how I remember it!), and some Atlanta band called Mr. Crowe’s Garden was opening for Drivin’ n’ Cryin’. Knew nothing about Mr. Crowe’s Garden. I was there to see D&C.  But I was instantly smitten with the opener. A pretty skeletal version of what was to come two years later when the Black Crowes dropped their self-titled Def American debut, but the band had, well, something.

My love affair with the Crowes was intense. And , alas, in relation to the band’s longevity, pretty short. I insanely love the first two records, but  I found myself with gradually less interest in each subsequent release. To the point to which I kinda stopped paying attention. To the extent that I don’t even have a copy of 2007’s “Warpaint”. It had been seven years since the last studio record, and man, “Lions” was a bad way to go out. “Warpaint”, which I don’t think I appreciated at the time, was a great way to come back. It struck a balance between the rock & roll and jam camps of the Crowes. And yes, I personally define them that way because, for me, they’re definitely different things. And I am way more down with the rock & roll side, even though I do have my occasional dalliances with the jam. I just don’t talk about those.

But back to “Warpaint”. Hey, there’s some really good stuff on this record. And ditto for 2009’s “Before The Frost/Until The Freeze”. However, I just can’t go see them live any longer. I suppose that’s good for me as they’re (once again) broken up. Or on hiatus. But from everything I have heard about the live shows, it’s still heavy on the jam. I’m sorry. I really am. I did give the Chris Robinson Brotherhood a go last year. Small club. Packed. Crowd was glazed and blissed. I swear I was ready to go after a handful of songs, but waited until the break. I will say this – I love watching Neal Casal play guitar. But I’d rather hear him play guitar…and sing. Great solo records from that guy. Check ’em if you can find ’em.

Okay, no more tangents. After all that, I’m here to sell a record for which I have pretty good things to say, but apparently not good enough to keep me from selling it. (One final meander – the next to last song on “Warpaint” – “There’s Gold In Them Hills”, is really, really good). Still selling it. This is the first press of this record, released on the band’s own imprint. It’s housed in a beautiful gatefold jacket and includes a bonus single only available in the initial run a, 7″ picture disc featuring two non-cd tracks, “Here Comes Daylight” and a cover of Joe South’s “Hole In Your Soul”. $50.

I just had this weird feeling that I may have featured this one before? Hmmmm. Maybe. Love that I can recall events of almost 25 years ago with some degree of clarity, yet completely forgot what I did (or did not do) five months ago. I’ll write it off as being Monday. Until it happens again on Tuesday.