Featured Album – Sinematic – Robbie Robertson

Note: In November, there will be a re-release of The Band’s eponymous 1969 album (aka “The Brown Album.”) The album will feature not only alternate tracks but also The Band’s full 1969 Woodstock set. I heard Robbie interviewed on Sirius. At Woodstock, he and the other guys had the challenge of coming on at 10 pm Sunday night following Ten Years After’s electrifying set. The crowd was jacked up but they brought them down to a more ‘hymnal’ state by doing “Chest Fever.” 

I’m going to just cheat here and give you the lowdown direct from Jambase and Rolling Stone:

“Robbie Robertson’s new album coincides with the September 5 premiere of the documentary film Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson And The Band at the Toronto International Film Festival. (There’s a song called “Once Were Brothers” about his bandmates on the album.) The 13-track album was produced by Robertson and recorded with bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist Martin Pradler, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Afie Jurvanen and vocalist Felicity Williams.

Guests besides Van Morrison contributing to Sinematic include Jim Keltner, Derek Trucks, Citizen Cope, J.S. Ondara, Laura Satterfield, Frédéric Yonnnet and Howie B. The instrumental “Remembrance,” written for the late Paul Allen, features guitarists Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II and renowned drummer Jim Keltner.” (In the interview I heard, Robertson say that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s favorite guitarists were Trucks and Bramhall – ME.)

“Robertson’s follow-up to 2011’s How To Become Clairvoyant was inspired by his work creating music for film, including the forthcoming Martin Scorcese-directed The Irishman. “I Hear You Paint Houses” takes its title from the Charles Brandt book about former mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran that served as the basis for Scorcese’s film.

So let’s do that one. Here’s old pals (Morrison was in Last Waltz) Van the Man and Robertson in a tale of a hired murderer. If you come to this album looking to hear anything even remotely like The Band, forget it. It’s Robertson’s sing/speak style over some – for want of a better expression – swampy, bluesy R&B:

Spotify link

Due, I guess, to Robertson working on the Scorsese movie, his mind was wrapped around bad guy stuff. But in this one, “Walk in Beauty Way,” he and Toronto singer Felicity Williams sing about getting a lot more friendly:

I no longer know where I started, no
I know what you called upon
But I still hunger for a touch, yeah
I think about her way too much

Oh, smoky nights on the ridge
I was layin’ in your bed
I wanna whisper, wanna scream
I wanna crawl inside your dream

Spotify link

If you’re looking for an album to cruise down the highway and rock out to, this is not the album for you. With his dreamy slow jams and distorted guitar, Robbie is clearly going for a mood. “I was working on all these things,” Robertson says. “I was working on my album, and on music for the movie, and on this documentary. All these things were kind of swirling around, and I didn’t know how to keep them separate. So I didn’t.”

I’ll leave you with one more number the final tune, an instrumental called “Remembrance” featuring the aforementioned Messrs. Trucks and Bramhall. Robbie played it for Scorsese who he said decided to roll it at the end of The Irishman, a movie I can’t wait to see. (Limited theatrical release, then Netflix.)

Spotify link

My feelings on this album? I’ve put in a couple of spins and while I somewhat like it and the mood it creates, I don’t think it’s something I’d listen to all the time nor will it make me forget the Band albums. Looking forward to that Band re-release and Woodstock stuff, quite honestly.

25 thoughts on “Featured Album – Sinematic – Robbie Robertson

        1. Yes, a much better word I think. “Hokey” is “You Light Up My Life,” or “Sometimes When We Touch.” That said, when I think of either Robbie or Van, the words that jump to mind first are bluesy, soulful, jazzy, funky, warm. And yes, sometimes sentimental.

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        2. Funny. BTW, I started thinking about the hokey-pokey and wondering where the heck it came from. Apparently it goes back centuries. But I note it said this:

          In New Zealand, the dance is usually known as the “hokey tokey” or the “hokey cokey,” because hokey pokey is the usual term for honeycomb toffee.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. He certainly has his own sound. I like RR’s musical ideas. Him and Martin have been joined at the hip since ‘Waltz’. I have his first 3 solo records which I still enjoy. Just so much music out there I have to spread my listening around.
    I could and will get into this. I like what I hear. It does have a Soundtrack vibe.

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    1. Yeah, there’s also a fair amount of gangster stuff. I’m also really looking forward to re-release of Band album. Not sure if that Woodstock stuff has come out before.

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      1. I don’t know how much different this Band music is going to be from what I have unless it’s new (discovered tunes). Curious but not salivating.
        I like when RR plays the music and gets off the interview couch.

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        1. I can’t find any evidence that the Woodstock stuff was ever released so that alone makes it interesting. Other than that, it seems like the usual “comb through the vaults and find the outtakes” assemblage. I like Robbie’s solo output to a certain extent but it can’t touch that stuff.

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        2. I have a related take coming up (we always seem to cross paths with this music thing). You might find CB’s choice and opinion surprising.
          I like RR stuff but it certainly is a different sound than the music he made with The Band. We’ve been down this road before about the synergy they had and that it wasn’t just one guy.
          Bottom line Robertson makes music that will always catch my ear.

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        3. He was being interviewed by a Rolling Stone guy who wondered why there hadn’t been a Band movie. Robbie said there was some talk of that. Wish I knew somebody up there in Frozen Tundra land who was involved in the movie industry who could find out more. Oh, wait. We discussed that. I play Ronnie Hawkins, you (I suggest) play Levon.

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    1. It’s not a great album but there’s some good stuff. I’m inspired to go back and listen to some of their live stuff .

      On another note, welcome back. When you go away, you do so for a while. But when you return you do so with a vengeance.

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      1. I’m in the mood to binge on The Band now. Live stuff obviously top of the list.

        And yeah, I was offline for quite a while. It didn’t actually feel like that… but I’ve got some extra time again and I’ll be using it to catch up (so apologies for all the WordPress notifications!)

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        1. No, glad you’re back. Two of my long-time followers quit the site and they were both fairly vocal. One left, I think, because we clashed often. Maybe it was just as well. He seemed to think that if we went back and forth often enough I’d certainly adopt his opinions. Didn’t work. The other, well, I don’t know. So be it.

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