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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Robert Gordon

"Something Else" (Victrola)

Collecting a singer's major label output isn't a challenge. Depending on the particular label's promotion, releases can practically fall into your lap.

But it's the dogged fan (call us obsessive, if you must be unkind), we who prowl thrift store bins and off-the-main-drag online spots, who value most an artist's toil and who, sometimes, are rewarded beyond expectation.

And so it is here, in the case of roots singer nonpareil Robert Gordon. Anyone can find the crucial, rockin' vinyl he put out on RCA, back in the day. But new this 500-copy, 2-disc set offers gems no less precious.

And it hips listeners that the Robert Gordon of today sounds even better than the RCA-era one. (We always knew he was an gifted singer of tremendous range. Now we know that he always will be. The commanding baritone of earlier days resounds as powerfully. But, with the passing of years, experience and maturity have lent bold character.

Some time back, there was talk of Robert doing some European recording with old friend and colleague Chris Spedding, drummer Todd Glass, and drummer Lesse Sirkko. As there are no personnel listings here, I can't confirm that these gentlemen appear here - though I recognize Mr. Spedding's masterful fretboard navigations.

The mood on Disc 1 is light, casual. And that bouyancy finds manifestation in the rollicking, good-time sounds.

Disc 2 is a 1978 live gig. It was recorded some two weeks after Robert and legendarily ferocious six-stringer Link Wray had completed their second LP for Private Stock, "Fresh Fish Special."

Incredibly, this taped gig sat forgotten until recently. Robert and Link are abetted with relish and joyful abandon by an uncredited crack rhythm section. Given the date, I'd wager bassman Rob Stoner was on hand. Perhaps also drummer Howie Wyeth.

Captured on these 24 1978 tracks is the sort of barnburning rock 'n' roll kicked up by men who love it. 

In fact, that last would also do as a description of the recent studio tracks on Disc 1. While they are for the main more mid-tempo than flat-out screamer, they are no less charging and vibrant. Heartening, in fact, in that they underscore the truth that worth can endure time's inexorable march. 

It pays to be obsessive!        

Recommended "Believe What You Say," "Hot Rod," "Knock Three Times,"                            "You Don't Know What 
                         You've  Got (Until You Lose It)," "Don't Let Go" 
                         - Disc 1

                         "Twenty Flight Rock," "Red Hot," "Sea Cruise," "Flying                                  Saucers Rock 'n' Roll," "Rumble"
                         - Disc 2

VIDEO "Don't Let Go"

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