As a part-time member of the Black Crowes' vast audience, I can confidently predict that true disciples will devour Croweology, a sprawling two-disc renovation of already-released material. But if you're a limited devotee or a complete neophyte who doesn't know Crowes from Yardbirds, the album risks constructing an aural brick wall with its two-hour bulk.
To its credit, Croweology is a well-conceived, considerate parting gift to fans before the band breaks up for a second indefinite hiatus. Where some widely successful bands would simply crap out a greatest hits compilation from their back catalogue, the Black Crowes have lovingly retooled a glut of secondary numbers, adding a few hit singles like "Remedy" for flavor. To further distinguish the collection, the band largely dumped electric instruments from the repertoire. The songs convert surprisingly well to the unplugged sound, and in many cases actually improve.
But an 18-minute "Ballad in Urgency" and "Wiser Time" medley doesn't evoke an embarrassing emotional or physical reaction. Croweology is more a chore than a pleasure to absorb in one sitting. It's like a decadent dessert: Sweet-tooths will happily consume it, but for some, the full serving is just a bit too much.
The Black Crowes play Ryan Creek Meadows Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 6 PM, with Jackie Greene and Truth & Salvage Company. $39.50 advance at Rockin Rudy's or ticketfly.com.