Robbie Robertson – Same (1987)

FrontCover1Robbie Robertson is the solo debut album by Robbie Robertson, released in 1987. It won the Juno Award for “Album of the Year”, and producers Daniel Lanois and Robertson won the “Producer of the Year” Juno award, both in 1989 (there were no Juno Awards in 1988).

The album includes contributions from the members of U2 and Peter Gabriel, both of whom were also working with Lanois at the time. U2 was recording The Joshua Tree and Gabriel was recording So. U2’s contribution is heard in the song “Sweet Fire of Love”, a duet of sorts between Robertson and U2 lead singer Bono. The other track featuring U2 is “Testimony”, again with vocals by Bono. Gabriel’s contributions are heard on the song “Fallen Angel”, which was dedicated to Richard Manuel, Robertson’s former bandmate in the Band, and “Broken Arrow”, which reverberates with Gabriel’s signature Rhodes electric piano. In addition, Tony Levin and Manu Katché, who were recording with Gabriel, are featured prominently on this record. (wikipedia)

Robbie Robertson was once asked why he waited 11 years after the breakup of the Band to release a solo project, and he replied, “I wasn’t so sure I had something to say.” One can hear a bit of this thinking in Robertson’s self-titled solo debut; it’s obvious that he didn’t care to revisit the country- and blues-flavored roots rock that had been his bread and butter with the Band, and at the same time Robertson seemed determined to make an album that had something important to say, and could stand alongside his legendary earlier work. Looking for a moody and atmospheric sound, Robertson teamed up with RobieRobertson01producer Daniel Lanois, who had previously worked with U2 and Peter Gabriel, two artists whose work obviously influenced Robertson’s musical thinking while he was making the album (they both appear on the album as well). As a result, Robbie Robertson is an album that represents both a clear break from his past, and an ambitious attempt to take his fascination with American culture and music in a new and contemporary direction. It’s highly ambitious stuff, and the album’s ambitions sometimes prove to be its Achilles’ heel. Robertson’s collaboration with U2, “Sweet Fire of Love,” sounds like a rather unremarkable outtake from The Joshua Tree, with the group’s aural bombast subsuming the ostensive leader of the session, while “Fallen Angel,” “American Roulette,” and “Somewhere Down the Crazy River” find Robertson exploring the same iconography of the Band’s best work, but without the same grace or subtle wit. And it doesn’t take long to realize why Robbie only took two lead vocals during his tenure with the Band; his dry, reedy voice isn’t bad, but it lacks the force and authority to communicate the big themes Robertson wants to bring across. Despite all this, Robbie Robertson does have its share of pearly moments, especially on the bitter “Hell’s Half Acre,” “Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight,” and “Broken Arrow” (a performance more subtle and effective than Rod Stewart’s better-known cover). Robbie Robertson isn’t the masterpiece its creator was obviously striving towards, but it’s an intelligent and often compelling set from an inarguably important artist, and it comes a good bit closer to capturing what made the Band’s work so memorable than the latter-day efforts from Levon Helm and company. ( by Mark Deming)


Bill Dillon (guitar, background vocals)
Manu Katché (drums, percussion)
Daniel Lanois (percussion, guitar on 05. + 08., omnichord on 05., background vocals)
Robbie Robertson (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Tinker Barfield (bass on 01. + 05.)
BoDeans (Sam Llanas, Kurt Neumann) (background vocals on 02. + 05.)
Bono (vocals, bass on 04., background vocals, guitar on 09.)
Terry Bozzio (drums on 03. + 05.)
Cary Butler (background vocals on 08.)
Hans Christian (bass on 05.)
Adam Clayton (bass on 04. + 09.)
Rick Danko (background vocals on 08.)
Sammy BoDean (Sam Llanas) (background vocals on 05. + 06.)
David Howell “The edge” Evans ( (guitar on 04. + 09.)
Peter Gabriel (keyboards on 01. + 03., vocals on 01., drum program on 03.)
Garth Hudson (keyboards on 01. + 05.)
Larry Klein (bass on 02.)
Abraham Laboriel (bass on 03.)
Tony Levin (chapman stick on 05. + 07., bass on 06. + 08.)
Maria McKee (background vocals on 05.)
Larry Mullen, jr. (drums on 04. + 09.)
Ivan Neville (background vocals on 09.)
Martin Page (drum programming on 01.)
Gil Evans Horn Section (horns on 09.)


All songs written by Robbie Robertson except as noted.[3]

01. Fallen Angel (Robertson/Page) 5.52
02. Showdown At Big Sky (Robertson) 4.43
03. Broken Arrow (Robertson)  – 5:17
04. Sweet Fire Of Love (Robertson, U2) 5.08
05. American Roulette (Robertson) 4.46
06. Somewhere Down The Crazy River (Robertson/Page) 4.44
07. Hell’s Half Acre (Robertson) 3.45
08. Sonny Got Caught In The Moonlight (Robertson) 3.45
09. Testimony (Robertson) 4.45




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