This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
send me an email message
Move over Tom Russell! You'd better hope your draw is quick and your aim is true 'cause the western ballad music business ain't big enough for both you and Rick Robbins. One of ya is gonna have to gittyup and mosey on, or settle this once and for all out in front of the saloon.
Seriously, Rick Robbins' first release features several western ballads that illuminate this batch of eclectic songs. His splendid renditions of "Diamond Joe," "Buffalo Skinnners," and Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting For A Train" are his best combinations of vocals and material. Ramblin' Jack Elliott embellishes "Desperados Waiting For A Train," covering some of the verses and blending with the harmonies.
His cover of Woody Guthrie's "East Texas Red," about a brutal railroad brakeman getting his karmic reward, is another of the story-songs performed quite well.
Robbins' version of Jimmy Webb's relatively unknown and unsung "The Highway Man" is yet another ballad highlight, albeit not necessarily sporting an entirely western motif.
The sorrowful and indicting "Tramp On The Street" provides a nice change of pace with Rory Block and Robbins sharing vocals on this quiet but biting theme of brotherhood, or lack thereof.
"Hobo's Lullaby," performed by many others including Woody Guthrie and Utah Phillips, features some soft and sentimental mandolin and fiddle licks but Robbins' vocals on this cut are just a tad strong, lacking the touch of wistfulness needed to fulfill the song's poignancy.
For being an unknown, Robbins' offerings are a pleasant surprise. Definitely consider this release if you're a sucker for ballads, especially those with a western bent.
Robbins is ably assisted by Rory Block, who also produced the release, on guitar and vocals; John Sebastian on harmonica; Eric Weissburg on mandolin and dobro; and Larry Campbell on mandolin and fiddle. Arlo Guthrie lends vocals and guitar on "Low & Lonely."
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.
Send inquiries to: send me an email message.
Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews home page.
To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back" button that appears immediately below: