Robbie Robertson albums
Robbie Robertson – (5 / 5)
First off, everyone seems to want this album to sound like something its not. People hear this is Robertson’s debut album and they think “this will sound like The Band” or “like an album from Dylan or the early 1970’s singer songwriters.” If one gives it a fair shot they will see it for what it is: an album with plenty of great songs, made by the most distinctive producer of the 1980’s. The first half of the album shows off a wide variety of range in Robertson: from the ethereal “Fallen Angel” where Robertson hits some insane high notes; the sudden shift changes in “Showdown at Big Sky”; “Broken Arrow” is a folk song of deep introspection, and the way Robertson delivers it moves the soul; “Sweet Fire of Love” cuts loose in a rocking way that is bombastic and detailed. These songs alone convey a mix of multiple Native American styles and showcases Robertson as a diverse vocalist.
The second half of the album fares well too, with “Hell’s Half Acre” being another bruising rocker; “Somewhere down this Crazy River” harking back to the storytelling ways of 1950’s jazz and lounge vocalists and evoking a moody atmosphere; and “Sonny got Caught in the Moonlight” being a gripping tale told in a folk rock style much like “Broken Arrow”. The only tracks that suffer from dated 1980’s qualities are “American Roulette” and “Testimony”, but the former is still a decent rock tune. While it is obvious that Daniel Lanios’ production takes over any album he produces (So by Peter Gabriel, Joshua Tree by U2, This is the Ice Age by Martha and the Muffins, Forth World by Jon Hassall), and that this album guests many stars and friends of the time era (U2, BoDeans), the songs themselves are Robbie’s. Also, he came before ANY of them, so I can’t fault the guy for absorbing new sounds. Personally, I feel if this sounded like The Last Waltz part 2, it would be a lame retread. But it’s not, it is a genius debut solo album by one of the best songwriters of all time.
Greatest Songs: Broken Arrow, Fallen Angel, Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight, Hell’s Half Acre