Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Chris Robinson: This Magnificent Distance

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Much like the young lion who ingratiates himself with the jazz cognoscenti, Chris Robinson, with his New Earth Mud comrades, is making a place for himself on the jam band scene by appearing at festivals such as Bonnaroo and opening shows for the Allman Brothers. If this Southern expatriate's first solo album wasn't enough to convince that there's no need for a Black Crowes reunion, This Magnificent Distance should do the trick. With an admirable variety of material and arrangement, this new CD contains music that is, in turn, raw, statuesque and exotic.

In the early days of the Crowes, Robinson's voice was often likened to that of Rod Stewart and the initial cut here, "40 Days," sounds like nothing so much as Rod the Mod covering Bob Dylan in his early solo days when Stewart was more likely to cover obscurities by the master rather than an album of MOR standards. Robinson even demonstrates some of Dylan's idiosyncratic vocal phrasing on "Surgical Glove." Chris Robinson is no slouch as a lyricist either: Distance is peppered with evocative images on songs such as "When the Cold Wind Blows at the Dark Edge of Night" and "If You See California" (in which understatement redeems the bombast of the preceding cut, where more production presence would make its orchestration resonate). You can even interpret "Train Robbers" as a metaphor for the (temporary?) split of the Black Crowes.

In tune with this more reflective writing, Robinson prefers subtle shadings and diverse textures in the instrumentation he chooses. During "Girl on the Mountain," bass, liquid electric leads and acoustic guitar float around each other, while "Mother of Stone" features some exotic percussion leading into the soulful shout of the leader. Such delicacy is in contrast to the broad strokes and powerhouse approach of his former band, but on both the raucous "Sea of Love" as well as the conclusion of "Peace of Wind," where a blues progression buoys a wailing harp, Chris proves he can still do what he's done before, as well as ever, in addition to what's new on this disc.

Recorded in something of a transitional phase—the current New Earth Mud lineup includes guitarist Audley Freed (who appears on the CD) and keyboardist/vocalist Rob Barraco (who joined for this summer's tour)—Robinson & Co. might entertain the audacious ploy of recording a live album of all new original material. There's a live sampler in circulation where the NEM instrumental interludes are just as arresting as when their leader is singing (and he makes some bold choices ranging from Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" to Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You," while the band works out on Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive"[?!]). Chris sounds so thoroughly inspired on This Magnificent Distance , he and his band would no doubt turn the potential pitfalls of such a project into advantages that would only further reflect positively on him and his post-Crowes future.

Track Listing: 40 Days; Girl on the Mountain; Mother of Stone; Train Robbers 6:40; Like a Tumbleweed in Eden; When the Cold Wind Blows at the Dark Edge of Night; ...If You See California; The Never Empty Table; Eagles on the Highway; Surgical Glove; Sea of Love; Piece of Wind

Personnel: Chris Robinson: vocals, guitar, harp; George Lake: keyboards; Geroge Reiff: bass;Paul Stacey: guitar; Jeremy Stacey: drums; Ethan Johns:drums; Audley Freed: guitar; Richard Causon: keyboards

Title: This Magnificent Distance | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Vector Recordings


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Alleviation" CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "The Colours Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Where Is My Mind?" CD/LP/Track Review Where Is My Mind?
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Dimebag" CD/LP/Track Review Dimebag
by Samuel Stroup
Published: December 8, 2017