REVIEW: Rich Robinson – Paper [2004 – Keyhole Records]
So you were disappointed by Chris Robinson’s solo albums? They seemed
interesting, but not … complete? Like Chris needed a band that
understood him? Well friends I have the antidote and the cure and the
acorn did not fall far from the tree…
From the first stuttering riffs of Yesterday I Saw You on Rich Robinson’s Paper,
it’s as clear who is the soul of the Black Crowes. As clear as the
difference in the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards solo records.
Don’t misunderstand, I love Chris Robinson’s lyrics, but Rich is a
capable singer, and the music carries this record far. I don’t mean
that as a swipe; Chris was probably trying to move beyond or away from
the Black Crowes sound, where as Rich embraces and expands it a little,
and that familiarity draws you right into this record. Rich has none of
Chris’ yelp or strut in his singing voice, but that’s okay.
What can you expect? Well the first three cuts are walls of
swirling guitars; Yesterday I Saw You, Enemy and Leave It Alone
picking up where the Crowes Lions left off. Know Me
and it’s slide and lower production value harken back earlier days
sounding like a lost late era Zeppelin track, something cut at the same time as Wearing and Tearing and Ozone Baby that came out on Coda. Forgiven Song and it’s
slow funeral speed, pedal steel and fiddles play like Jerry Jeff
Walker’s Lost Gonzo Band doing the Stones Moonlight Mile. Veil and When You Will are
cousins of the Crowes’ Evil Eye and Non Fiction.
But with Places Rich explores an evil feedback drenched
overdriven riff unlike anything ever heard on his other band’s records.
Not Black Sabbath heavy, not CCR swampy, it’s just a plodding and
insistant groove that just drags you under with it. The mood is
lightened by Begin and it’s pre-Joker Steve Miller sound with nice
keyboards by Crowes mainstay Eddie Hawrsch. Falling Away is a great
slow acoustic ballad over which Rich lays some of his signature blues
bending. The keyboard driven Baby and Oh No allow Rich some open
tuning slide time. Answers with a string quartet in the background
and It’s Over are rhythym driven tracks, Answers being a bouncing
rhythym and It’s Over following a turnaround waltz !?!.
I say again, Rich is no singer, but his voice is as passable as
anything. I want to use Steve Miller as an example, but he’s even more
deadpan than that. But that’s not the point. This is a GREAT album that
you may have missed.
** And do NOT forget friends, that the Black Crowes are on tour this summer and fall WITH Steve Gorman back on tubs and a clean and sober Marc Ford back in the fold, leaving only bassist Johnny Colt out of the amazing and dynamic Amorica or Bust touring band.