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Counting Crows

Counting Crows

Introspective Californian roots rockers with a string of high-profile hits including Mr Jones and Accidentally In Love.

It’s easy to see Counting Crows as a band out of time. While their neighbours to the north spent the early 90s backing their angst and disillusionment with monolithic distortion, the Californians instead turned their attention to Laurel Canyon and the laidback, introspective folk rock of Dylan, Joni Mitchell and John Phillips, and the twanging country rock of Gram Parsons, The Byrds and The Grateful Dead.

Counting Crows started in Berkley as a duo of vocalist and songwriter Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson. The line-up quickly expanded to include keyboardist Charlie Gillingham, bassist Matt Malley, drummer Steve Bowman and session guitarist David Immerglück. The band recorded a few early demos, which sparked a flurry of interest from major labels.

Counting Crows signed to Geffen and became an almost overnight mainstream success with their 1993 debut August And Everything After, impeccably produced by T-Bone Burnett. The single Mr Jones became a huge hit in the US, almost single-handedly kickstarting a new era in introspective college rock that begat Platinum-selling albums from Goo Goo Dolls, The Wallflowers, Hootie & The Blowfish and more. Shortly after the album's release, Bowman left the band and was replaced by Ben Mize.

While the band became a huge deal on the back of Duritz’s dorm room-ready poetry and sensitive balladry, they abruptly turned their back on most of it with 1996’s explosive Recovering The Satellites. The album was a total rejection of fame, especially on the revved up Have You Seen Me Lately, which found Duritz railing against the shallowness of popularity and celebrity: "These days I feel like I'm fading away, like sometimes when I hear myself on the radio." Another enduring hit followed in A Long December, which featured Duritz’s then-girlfriend Courtney Cox in the video.

Following the double live album Across A Wire, Counting Crows returned to the studio with producers David Lowery (of Californian kindred spirits Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven) and Dennis Herring. The result was This Desert Life, which went Platinum in the US and featured the singles Hangingaround and Mrs Potter’s Lullaby.

Counting Crows struck gold again with the more commercial Hard Candy, produced by another revered producer in Steve Lillywhite (U2, The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads). The record also paid tribute to the band’s heroes with an ode to The Band on If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead) and covers of Bob Dylan (You Ain’t Going Nowhere) and Joni Mitchell (Big Yellow Taxi). The latter became a notable hit when it was re-released as a duet with Vanessa Carlton.

For their fifth album, 2008’s Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows unified their duality on a double album that put the rowdy rock songs (Saturday night) on one side, and the gentle alt-country balladry (Sunday morning) on the other. They also employed different producers for each side, reuniting with Satellites producer Gil Norton for the former and bringing in Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) for the latter.

By this point, Counting Crows' rustic folk rock had fallen out of vogue, resulting in a split from long-time label Geffen in 2009. Duritz struggled with the adjustment as the band collectively tried to regroup. Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) arrived in 2012, showing the band back having fun with a set of covers including songs by Gram Parsons, The Faces and Big Star. But it was 2014 before they released a new album of original material: the impressively revitalised Somewhere Under Wonderland, a testament to the band’s endurance and longevity.

It would be another seven years before the band released new music, this time in the shape of 2021’s Butter Miracle Suite One mini album. A second part was promised, with the two parts eventually making up the band’s seventh studio album.

Later that year, Counting Crows returned to the road with a US tour, followed by the announcement in October of a European jaunt in 2022. As part of that trans-Atlantic excursion, Counting Crows confirmed a run of UK dates in March and April 2022.

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