The last time the Black Crowes went on hiatus, in 2002, they had good reason: Their previous album, Lions, was the closest they'd come to being dull: solid songs like the howling electric church of "Soul Singing" muffled by indifferent execution. The Crowes plan to split again, indefinitely, at the end of this year. But the Robinson brothers — singer Chris and guitarist Rich — and their best-ever lineup, with Mississippi guitar shaman Luther Dickinson, are going out on a high: a two-CD set of live-in-the-studio performances of songs from across their catalog. The guitars are mostly acoustic, but there is no retreat from cosmic electricity.
The emphasis is on numbers embedded on near-miss albums, such as "Soul Singing" and "Good Friday," from 1996's Three Snakes and One Charm, while the arrangements spread out the way the band has played many of the songs on recent tours. The 18-minute medley of "Ballad in Urgency" and "Wiser Time," both from 1994's Amorica, are a blast of '68-Fillmore adventure at Workingman's Dead volume, while the double-time gospel section in "My Morning Song" recalls the impromptu pleasures of Delaney and Bonnie's 1971 acoustic-jam record, Motel Shot. Croweology has classic-rock radio staples like "Remedy" and "She Talks to Angels," but the album is much better than a greatest-hits affair — it's a reason to go on.