Robbie Robertson

TrackAlbum
Between TrainsKing Of Comedy OST
Breakin' The RulesStoryville
Fallen AngelRobbie Robertson
Soap Box PreacherStoryville
Somewhere Down The Crazy RiverRobbie Robertson
Stomp Dance (Unity)Contact From The
Underworld Of Redboy
This Bitter EarthShutter Island OST
This Is Where I Get OffHow To Become Clairvoyant
Twisted HairMusic For The Native Americans
When The Night Was YoungHow To Become Clairvoyant

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Contributor: Peter Viney

The first solo album, Robbie Robertson, had four outstanding tracks … the hit single Somewhere Down The Crazy River lifted him out of comparisons with The Band’s three vocalists (a comparison which never benefits him) because none of them could have done the vocal as well as him. Fallen Angel is a tribute to deceased Band member Richard Manuel, and again escapes Band comparisons because Peter Gabriel was such a strong collaborator. The other two are Broken Arrow and Sonny Got Caught In The Moonlight, but I was trying to spread my selections.

Between Trains is a hard to get one. It was sung with Richard Manuel on The King of Comedy soundtrack, is very Band-like and the only surprise is that it’s never been released elsewhere. A mashed Between Trains video from Pat and Kevin Brennan can now be viewed on youtube with extracts from 15 Band songs.

Storyville was rumoured to be a planned Band reunion that failed to happen. All the songs would have worked in that context. It’s easy to imagine Rick Danko singing Breaking The Rules in a way to equal The Band’s It Makes No Difference. Rick Danko was invited to sing on Soap Box Preacher but had to cancel at the last moment, and was replaced by Neil Young to achieve that ‘high Canadian sound’ Robbie Robertson was seeking. Go Back To Your Woods and What About Now are tempting from Storyville, but my favourite versions are live from the 1992 Seville Guitar Legends concert, which is only available in bits on YouTube.

The two Native American albums, Music For The Native Americans and Contact From The Underworld of Redboy work as a whole, and I found it harder to choose tracks, though the Native American style is more overt on the earlier one. Mahk Jchi was performed by Ulali, and is best heard live on the Agrigento TV concert from Italy, so I discounted it. I went for Twisted Hair, narrowly over Golden Feather. From the second Native American album, Stomp Dance.

Both This Is Where I Get Off (which explores The Band’s break up) and When The Night Was Young are retrospective songs from the 2011 How To Become Clairvoyant album.

This includes two he didn’t write. Twisted Hair is a weird atmospheric narration from Music For The Native Americans written by Jim Wilson & Dave Carson. This Bitter Earth is a production only track from the Shutter Island soundtrack, where Robbie Robertson combined Dinah Washington singing This Bitter Earth, with Max Richter’s modern classical piece On The Nature Of Daylight. A mash-up? But an incredible concept with an awe-inspiring and chilling effect.

Robbie Robertson’s official website

Robbie Robertson biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #27

1 Comment

  1. Kevin John
    Jul 24, 2013

    Interesting on the Robbie Robertson list of songs. Sticking to the same albums, on the 1987 debut, my favorites are “Showdown at Big Sky”, “Sonny Got Caught By The Moonlight” and “Broken Arrow”. On Storyville, I would take “Shake this Town” and “Night Parade” and on HTBC, I believe “Straight Down The Line” and “The Right Mistake” to be the two strongest songs. I agree on “Between Trains” and Music for Native Americans is a masterpiece that I find hard to pick any one or two above the others. If pressed, “Golden Feather” and “Ghost Dance”.

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