At the time of their 1990 debut, the kind of rock & roll the Black Crowes specialize in was out of style. Only Guns N' Roses came close to approximating a vintage Stones-style raunch, but they were too angry and jagged to pull it off completely. The Black Crowes replicated that Stonesy swagger and Faces boogie perfectly. Vocalist Chris Robinson appropriated the sound and style of vintage Rod Stewart while guitarist Rich Robinson fused Keith Richards' lean attack with Ron Wood's messy rhythmic sense. At their best, the Black Crowes echo classic rock without slavishly imitating their influences.
The Robinson brothers originally formed the Black Crowes in Georgia in 1984. By the time of their 1990 debut, Shake Your Money Maker, the group comprised Chris Robinson (vocals), Rich Robinson (guitar), Johnny Colt (bass), Jeff Cease (guitar), and Steve Gorman (drums). "Jealous Again," the first single from Shake Your Money Maker, was a moderate hit but it was the band's cover of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" that made the group a multi-platinum success. "Hard to Handle" climbed its way into the Top 40, propelling the album into the Top Ten. The acoustic ballad "She Talks to Angels" became the band's second Top 40 hit in the spring of 1991. Shake Your Money Maker would eventually sell over three million copies.