SHERYL CROW SOARS TO NEW HEIGHTS

By GERRY GALIPAULT

(Nov. 18, 1993)

Membership in the "Tuesday Night Music Club" doesn't require dues or a painful initiation. There's no club president or recording secretary.

To join this support group, all you need is a musical instrument and the stomach for greasy diner food and free-flowing beer.

And don't forget to check your ego at the door with Sheryl Crow.

The 31-year-old singer-songwriter, born and raised outside St. Louis, built a talented nucleus of musicians and songwriters around her for her second A&M album, named after the informal sessions at producer Bill Bottrell's Toad Hall studio in Pasadena, Calif.

"I'm lucky we recorded these tracks in a way most musicians think records are made," Crow said during a recent stop in her current national tour with the BoDeans. "But, really, records aren't made this way. It's not so common anymore. Now, you book a studio between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. and you have to be creative during those hours."

There was no pressure or high expectations when Crow, a longtime session singer and skilled songwriter, teamed in the studio with Bottrell (who produced Michael Jackson's "Dangerous"), David Baerwald and David Ricketts (formerly known as David + David), Kevin Gilbert, Brian Macleod (drummer of Wire Train), Dan Schwartz and engineer Blair Lamb.

What grew out of all-night collaborations is one of the year's most clever and authentic albums, which in spite of its female viewpoint has also attracted male listeners - much to Crow's delight.

"Tuesday Night Music Club" shows off Crow's varied influences, from the Beatles-ish "What I Can Do For You" to the rural funk of "Solidify" and "The Na-Na Song."

Rural funk?

"When we started working on this album," Crow said, "Arrested Development had just come out and that's definitely rural funk. Another record I listen to a lot is 'Let It Bleed,' by the Rolling Stones, and if you compare the two, there's really no difference sonically in the way the records sound.

"It's interesting how what is fresh in the '90s was what was being done in the late '60s and early '70s. Very rural in feel, stripped down and honest, sort of in-your-face. I think this record is funky in more than one way, and rhythmically there's moments where it's twisting and pulling."

Like "The Na-Na Song," in which a steady stream of social commentary evokes memories of Bob Dylan's talking blues in "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

"That came out of Election Day last year when we were all sitting there watching the returns," Crow said. "It was exciting because the whole climate, politically, was like a changing of the guard and there was a lot of energy in the room."

After attending the University of Missouri in the '80s, Crow said she came home on a Tuesday, broke the news to her parents that she was moving to Los Angeles to pursue a music career and left on a Sunday.

Hawking a demo tape from label to label led to background vocal sessions with such heavyweights as Michael Jackson, Don Henley, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, George Harrison and Joe Cocker.

"I've been writing songs since I was really young," Crow said, "and it was just a matter of getting to the point where I could say no to session work and make a commitment to stay home and really get into just writing. It took a while, but the label I'm on is very artist-oriented and it was worth waiting for."

BWF (before we forget): Nearly a year after its release, "Tuesday Night Music Club" swept the nation, spawning two Top 5 singles ("All I Wanna Do" and "Strong Enough") and selling more than 6 million copies. She also won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her self-titled follow-up album peaked at No. 6 in late 1996 and has sold more than 2 million.


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