Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Guilty '80s Pleasure Wednesday: 'Robbie Robertson' (1987)

Who else is gonna briiiing you... a Daniel-Lanois-produced half-decent '80s rock record? Robbie Robertson, that's who...

I don't know if you'd strictly consider this a guilty pleasure record or not... 1987's self-titled solo debut, Robbie Robertson, written and recorded by the main man behind The Band, is clearly too glossy for most of its subject matter ("Broken Arrow," "Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight"), but Daniel Lanois, who produced one of my favorite records of all time, Dylan's Time Out of Mind, injects just enough darkness into the synths and shimmer to make it good.

There are almost no traces of The Band in this whole record. Interestingly enough, however, there are strains of his weirdest record, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy, where he experimented mixing strident rock, touches of electronica and traditional American Indian melodies and vocal samples. "Showdown at Big Sky" and the noir-book-on-tape narration of "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" are good examples of what I'm talking about.

There is also a bit of a Peter Gabriel/Genesis on the opener, "Fallen Angel," (wow, I'm an idiot... Peter Gabriel is ON that track... thanks, and snatches of Robert Palmer in the closer, "Testimony." 

Robertson is a great lyricist, though; and while this isn't his best - I'd say The Band's Music from Big Pink takes that title - this is one of the few good rock albums to emerge from the '80s, along with Graceland and Born in the USA.

Listen to samples at

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