Right around the time that 80s rock and New Wave were giving way to the rise of urban music on the Top 40, Atlanta southern rock outfit The Black Crowes came on the scene to remind us that straight-up rock & roll was still a force to be reckoned with. Their breakthrough single “Hard To Handle” topped the Mainstream Rock charts in 1990, came in at a respectable Number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and propelled The Black Crowes’ debut album Shake Your Money Maker to sales of over 5 million copies to date.
Arguably one of the Crowes’ biggest hits, “Hard To Handle” was by no means original. It was written and recorded by Otis Redding just before his death in 1967 (released posthumously a year later), and covered frequently by The Grateful Dead during their live shows. Nevertheless, the Crowes’ rendition of it made such a mark that most people now associate the tune with them. While Redding’s original version had a definite R&B flair to it, “Hard To Handle” sits well as a typical rock song: three chords, searing guitars and lyrics boasting of male sexual prowess.
While The Black Crowes went on to chart numerous hits over the next several years (including their other signature song “She Talks To Angels”), they’ve never duplicated the sales successes of their debut album. Nevertheless, after numerous lineup changes and two hiatuses, the band is still intact and playing to a solid fan base.