Robbie Robertson is an amazing guitarist. Robbie Robertson is an amazing songwriter. Robbie Robertson is a big part of what made The Band so amazing in general. What Robbie Robertson is not, is an amazing singer. In The Band days, the extent of his vocals was usually reserved for when all five members were joining in as a backing chorus. So, while I love his work, I was a little trepidatious about listening to a Robbie Robertson solo joint. Could his expert musicianship make up for his less than stellar vocals? In the end, I decided that his expert musicianship was more than enough reason to take the plunge on his self titled Robbie Robertson.
Fallen Angle is a great opening track to set my mind at ease. Ethereal and all atmosphere, it’s sweeping soundscape lends itself to gentle, restrained vocals. And when Robertson does push his voice, it’s pushed perfectly, just within his range. It’s also a great use of 80s era instruments and production, while being just different enough to note sounded totally dated and locked in the 80s.
Kind of the opposite of Showdown at Big Sky. 1987 oozes off every single note of this bad boy. It could be used in a montage or end credits in movies as wide ranging as 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting or 1987’s Some Kind of Wonderful. But things get really adventurous on Broken Arrows. The kind of song that could be used as a character hits rock bottom in movies as wide ranging as 1987’s The Secret of My Success or 1987’s Full Metal Jacket (which would be a bizarre, but kind of amazing choice).
Somewhere Down the Crazy River… Wow. A misguided mess that needs to be heard to be believed. I really have no idea where to even start with this song.
Sure, I may have pulled the piss out of the 80s sound a lot with Robbie Robertson, but this is an 80s album. Made by a bloke late into middle age who was one of the best song writers of the 60s and 70s. So for Robertson to have stayed current and relevant enough to make an album so of its time, several decades into his career, that’s pretty impressive. It never sounds like he’s chasing current trends, it sounds like he’s just an on the ball dude who was up on all the latest shit. Maybe it’s not as timeless as what he did in The Band, but it’s impressive in the way it so perfectly captures its specific time.