On this day in music history: May 12, 1992 – “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion”, the second album by The Black Crowes is released. Produced by George Drakoulias, it is recorded at Southern Tracks Studios in Atlanta, GA and Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA in January 1992. Following the huge success of their debut “Shake Your Money Maker” selling more than five million copies in the US alone, The Black Crowes are adamant about beating the sophomore jinx, but are not content with repeating themselves musically. The band write new material and rehearse it extensively before entering the studio. Before they do, guitarist Jeff Cease is fired and replaced by Marc Ford, formerly of the blues-rock band Burning Tree. The band once again work with producer George Drakoulias with Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) engineering and mixing. The title “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion” is taken from a songbook of hymns compiled by William Walker and published in 1835. Unlike their debut, the new album is recorded almost completely live with few additional overdubs in only eight days. The fast pace is all the more impressive considering the often volatile relationship between brothers Chris and Rich Robinson. When the band deliver the album to their label American Recordings/Warner Bros, they tell them that they don’t hear a hit on it, and to record another cover like their version of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle”. The Crowes refuse and the label puts out the record as is. To launch the album, the label prepares a lavish package that is limited to only 100 individually numbered copies, and sent only to select radio and press people. The set comes with a book featuring the song lyrics, notation and guitar tabs, along with digi-pak versions of the full album and a promo CD single. The contents come housed in a black 12" x 12" box with gold hinges, emblazoned with The Black Crowes logo. Led by the funky, syncopated rocker “Remedy” (#1 Mainstream Rock, #48 Pop) which spends eleven weeks at the top of the Billboard Album Rock chart, “Southern Harmony” is a hit right out of the box. The tracks “Sting Me” (#1 Mainstream Rock), “Thorn In My Pride” (#1 Mainstream Rock) and “Sometimes Salvation” (#7 Mainstream Rock) also become favorites. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2007 with two additional bonus tracks. Originally released on vinyl on a limited basis, it is remastered and issued as a 180 gram LP in 2009 by Plain Recordings. It is reissued again in 2015, as a double vinyl 180 gram LP set as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” series. “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, spending one week at the top, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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