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Robbie Robertson - How to Become a Clarivoyant

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Well, this is a surprise.

With his first solo album since 1998’s modern rock homage to Native American music, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy, former the Band guitarist Robbie Robertson will add a few more famous names to the collaboration section of his 5-decade-long rock resume. In addition to longtime friend Eric Clapton, Robertson has recruited post-’70s stars such as Trent Reznor, Robert Randolph, Tom Morello, and Taylor Goldsmith (whose band Dawes released an excellent debut last year) for How to Become Clairvoyant, a 12-track solo LP due out in April.

Robbie Robertson and Robert Randolph?!

This album will be brought to you by the Letter R.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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This album will be brought to you by the Letter R.

Ha! That's quite the eclectic mix of contributors. Sort of reminds me of Bryan Ferry's latest album, which had the likes of Johnny Greenwood and Scissor Sisters alongside dinosaurs like David Gilmour and members of Roxy Music.

I still really love Robbie's self-titled 1987 album and its follow-up, Storyville. I never really got into the Native American stuff that came after those, though.

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I'm thrilled about the news. I love his Music for the Native Americans album and his self-titled album is made of long-lasting stuff. I found Storyville to be a mixed bag; maybe it was the production on that album, but it lacked the fiery edge (and the fiery Edge!) of Robbie Robertson. Contact from the Underworld of Red Boy never did much for me.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Sound Is Fading........... Robbie? Really? reaching for relevance? I will be interested in hearing this.


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Plato

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I found Storyville to be a mixed bag; maybe it was the production on that album, but it lacked the fiery edge (and the fiery Edge!) of Robbie Robertson.

Oh, I definitely prefer Robbie Robertson, too. It's funny, I always felt like Storyville was sort of an older, wiser, "going gently into that good night" album, and now, here he is exactly 20 years LATER, doing a record with the likes of Tom Morello and Trent Reznor.

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I've listened to this a couple of times today, and I've enjoyed it. It seems to me like it's all about the warm, laid-back grooves and the slow simmer of the band; in that regard it's not unlike something I'd expect from Donald Fagen or Stevie Winwood. (No big surprise, then, that the latter appears on this record, along with Eric Clapton.)

The lyrics are sort of hit-and-miss. I love the way he plays with American myths and icons in some of the songs, while others seem to flirt a bit too much with blues and roots-rock cliches. I might also suggest that the album is a little too long. But overall I think it's quite pleasant, and certainly a welcome return.


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Guest Thom Jurek

I think that straight songwriting autobiography is Robbie Robertson's Achilles Heel as a songwriter. I think his deliberate obscuring of his first person under American myths big and small is his real strong point as a songwriter--and he can write the hell out of melodies. This is the most self indulgent record he's ever done, though there is good stuff on it. Clapton adds almost nothing and the one song he sings on is embarrassing. My review will be up in a day or two. I didn't slag it, but compared to his other records--though I admit I may be the only person I know that loves Storyville-- this one just feels really over the top.

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I probably like the album a little more than you do, Thom, but I think a lot of what you say rings true. It *IS* very indulgent, overlong, and to my ears maybe a little overproduced; it's difficult to even make out some of the guest spots because everything is blended into the same sonic tapestry-- so yeah, Clapton is wasted, and I think Randolph is, too.


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Guest Thom Jurek

I probably like the album a little more than you do, Thom, but I think a lot of what you say rings true. It *IS* very indulgent, overlong, and to my ears maybe a little overproduced; it's difficult to even make out some of the guest spots because everything is blended into the same sonic tapestry-- so yeah, Clapton is wasted, and I think Randolph is, too.

I can't fault Robbie for being slick. He always has been in his solo career and I admit readily to liking his first two solo records a lot. I feel like lyrically and melodically he lost his way. While Marius de Vries might have been a perfect co-producer--with Moby--for the elelctronics at the heart of Contact From The Underworld Of Redboy, he was the absolute wrong guy for this project of personally based songs. You're right, too much sonic wash out (sometimes they even bury the guitars). Randolph does at least gets some tasty room to pack his stuff in on the first track--particularly in his last solo. Weirdly enough, Tango for Django, the instrumental that closes it works because it sounds like the coda to a soundtrack. Hmmm.... maybe Robertson's spent too much time working on the movies and not enough hanging around with musicians.

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I was underwhelmed with this on my first listen (it's very... sleepy), but I'm warming up to it on the second spin. It's still "sleepy," but then again Robbie is 65. I think Bryan Ferry's Olympia, which is another album by a really old dude collaborating with old musical colleagues alongside newer talent, outshines this one by a fair stretch.

Still, there is some good stuff here. I love Robert Randolph's little "Amazing Grace" solo on the opening track. "He Don't Live Here No More" slinks along on a nice groove. "Madame X" is pretty, and does not strike me as the kind of track that Trent Reznor would be involved with, but the liner notes tell me otherwise. The tracks with Eric Clapton are good, but also very by-the-numbers.

While Marius de Vries might have been a perfect co-producer--with Moby--for the elelctronics at the heart of Contact From The Underworld Of Redboy, he was the absolute wrong guy for this project of personally based songs. You're right, too much sonic wash out (sometimes they even bury the guitars). Randolph does at least gets some tasty room to pack his stuff in on the first track--particularly in his last solo. Weirdly enough, Tango for Django, the instrumental that closes it works because it sounds like the coda to a soundtrack. Hmmm.... maybe Robertson's spent too much time working on the movies and not enough hanging around with musicians.

Marius de Vries is a strange choice for this album, considering his history with the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack, and more recently, Pet Shop Boys. In fact, the liner notes list no less than FOUR different people who did "programming," but I can't detect anything on this album that sounds programmed. It's very organic. Robbie did this on the "Storyville" album, too, by enlisting Stephen Hague as producer. Hague also produced Pet Shop Boys, along with Erasure, OMD, New Order, and lots of other British electronic acts. But "Storyville" sounded very organic and warm, too. Hmmm.

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I admit, I'm enjoying it very much... mostly for the melodies, his voice, and the unhurried, relaxed feeling of the whole affair. I'm enjoying some of the lyrics very much too. It's not a great work of production. But Robertson's appearances are so rare that I'm just enjoying this album as if it's a casual visit from an old, dear friend.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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