Shortly after announcing his retirement from the Black Crowes, the platinum-selling Southern-rockers he’d joined in 1992, Marc Ford reunited with bassist Mark “Muddy” Dutton and drummer Doni Gray, his late-80s bandmates from the L.A. retro-rockers, Burning Tree.
“It felt natural and flowed,” he says of the first gigs they’d played in 17 years – as the 15 tracks here amply illustrate. Influences such as the Stones and Cream pop up (on “Featherweight Dreamland” and “1,000 Ways,” respectively – the latter co-written by Ford’s son, Elijah), while “The Other Side” straddles country-rock and Hendrix guitaristics. The slow groove and Hammond organ on Willie Dixon’s “The Same Thing” summon Jimi as much as Muddy; you expect to hear him break into, “Lord knows I’m a voodoo child!”
Ford (not to be confused with Mark Ford, the harmonica player) proves he’s equally adept as melodic songwriter and six-string tonemeister – the latter showcased to full effect on the instrumental jam “Greazy Chicken.” “Medicine Time” is reminiscent of the sort of James Brown funk Frank Zappa sometimes dabbled in. Zappa comes to mind again on “The Big Callback,” via the wah guitar, horn arrangement, and subliminal vocal.
And speaking of wah-wah, check out “Bye Bye Suzy” – the best Chuck Berry song to come down the pike in ages, despite the fact that it wasn’t written by Chuck.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.