Eagle Rock [Release date 22.02.16]
With the Black Crowes looking to be all but consigned to musical history, Rich Robinson – founder, guitarist and writer of the music that made the band such a creative force – is now re-issuing his solo catalogue ahead of the forthcoming release of new album ‘Flux’.
First up is 2004′s Paper. With all but the basic masters lost in 2012′s Hurricane Sandy Robinson has gone back to what was there and brought the album up to date. With new vocals, the addition of 3 extra tracks ‘Stand Up’, ‘Walking By Myself’ and the Stones-like instrumental ‘Words Of The Chosen’ (the latter played on his 2004 solo tour, included vocals at that time).
In amongst the new vocals are some changes of song titles and lyrics but the album still holds the feel and quality of the original release, and may even surpass that. Highlights amongst the 17 tracks here include the upbeat and bluesy ‘Know Me’, the Led Zep like ‘Answers’, the jangly and almost pop like feel of ‘Walking By Myself’ and the Black Crowes feeling ‘Yesterday I Saw You’. Then you have the likes of ‘Enemy’ which sits nicely between the Crowes and old Aerosmith, or the likes of ‘Begin’ which is a gentle mix of all the afore-mentioned bands.
‘Paper’ remains a great album and even more so with this well put together new version. ****
Now we come to Woodstock Sessions. Originally released in 2014 the original concept was that Robinson and his live band would record 2 live sessions- one acoustic and one electric, the bulk of the album made up from the later, with the audience getting fully immersed in the experience.
Opening with an Otis Redding-ish ‘The Giving Key’, the album’s other highlights include a stunning live version of ‘I Have A Feeling’, ‘Gone Away’ which thumps along nicely, ‘I Know You’ a track which is tight and exudes a swaggering confidence and 9 minute bonus track ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’ and a cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh! Sweet Nuthin”.
With a number of the tracks weighing in at over 9 minutes in length, Robinson’s solo band manages to incorporate the jam feeling that the Black Crowes did so well live. ***
Finally we get to the re-issue of 2011′s Through A Crooked Sun. Originally recorded during a Black Crowes hiatus, you can imagine a number of the songs on the album may have been originally destined for the band, ‘Lost And Found’ and ‘Standing On The Surface Of The Sun’ being the best examples of this .
With echoes of both Tom Petty and The Beatles alongside the more recognisable influence of The Stones ‘Gone Away’ opens the album nicely and following is a mix of laid back, almost acoustic tracks like ‘I Don’t Hear The Sound of You’ and ‘All Along The Way’ and the more upbeat highlights such as ‘Station Man’ and ‘Fire Around’.
The bonus tracks this time come in the shape of alternate versions of ‘It’s Not Easy’ and ‘Falling Again’. ****
When you hear the genius of Rich Robinson through a body of work like this you really do realise how much you miss The Black Crowes, and this is not a criticism but more of a salute to what one songwriter has done throughout their career.
Review by Nikk Gunns
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