1996, Music

Recovering the Satellites (1996) by Counting Crows

The idea that Counting Crows (and this record) are “alternative” has to be one of the reasons “alternative rock” went from meaning something to being the designation for mainstream rock music in the 90s.

This record doesn’t have an alternative bone in its body. Actually, it has a couple – a few times the lead guitarist reminds me that he might have once been in an alternative rock band, but that’s about it.

Instead, this record is pure ’70s California pop rock, in both the music and the lyrics. That’s fine, if that’s what you like. But why a record that revives such a specific sound would do so well in 1996 is a little lost on me.

There’s nothing wrong with it: the songs are catchy, the lyrics, though whiny, are fine (and very, very focused on California), the arrangements are classy. But there are numerous other records that sound like this. I don’t know why this one should be signaled out. I guess if you got into this record at just the right time, it’s a big deal for you. For the rest of us, it just inspires a collective shrug of the shoulders.

The 6/10 is because it’s well made. To me, this is very average music, but it’s better made than lots of average music.


All tracks written by Adam Duritz unless otherwise indicated.

  1. “Catapult” (Duritz, David Bryson, Charlie Gillingham, Matt Malley, Dan Vickrey, Ben Mize) – 3:34
  2. “Angels of the Silences” (Duritz, Gillingham) – 3:39
  3. “Daylight Fading” (Duritz, Vickrey, Gillingham) – 3:50
  4. “I’m Not Sleeping” – 4:57
  5. “Goodnight Elisabeth” – 5:20
  6. “Children in Bloom” – 5:23
  7. “Have You Seen Me Lately?” – 4:11
  8. “Miller’s Angels” (Duritz, Vickrey) – 6:33
  9. “Another Horsedreamer’s Blues” – 4:32
  10. “Recovering the Satellites” – 5:24
  11. “Monkey” – 3:02
  12. “Mercury” – 2:48
  13. “A Long December” – 4:57
  14. “Walkaways” (Duritz, Vickrey) – 1:12
  • David Bryson – guitars, Dobro, tambourine, vocals
  • Adam Duritz – piano, tambourine, Wurlitzer, lead vocals
  • Charlie Gillingham – Hammond B-3, piano, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, accordion, harmonica, vocals
  • Matt Malley – electric bass guitar, double bass, vocals
  • Ben Mize – drums, tambourine, percussion, light bulbs, Zippo lighter, vocals

Additional Musicians:

  • Paul Buckmaster – Orchestra conductor on “Daylight Fading”, “I’m Not Sleeping”, and “Another Horsedreamer’s Blues”
  • Charlie Gillingham – string arrangements on “Daylight Fading”, “I’m Not Sleeping”, and “Another Horsedreamer’s Blues”
  • Marvin Etzioni – mandolin on “Mercury”
  • David Immerglück – pedal steel guitar and octave mandolin on “Miller’s Angels”

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