[…continued from last post]
2016 brought unexpected news; Dr. Robert was planing on making a solo album. His first since The Blow Monkeys regrouped back in 2008. Like the last Blow Monkeys album, “Out There” was also crowdsourced on Pledge Music, which was well-established as the primary platform for musical crowdsourcing. It honestly felt like every month there was one project or another that I was buying into as the labels were hollow shadows of their former selves whittled down to the bone, or simply ignoring the acts I was invested heavily in.
“Out There” was definitely apart from The Blow Monkey’s vibe, being a case where Dr. Robert got his old 8-track recorder out of storage [the same one which had made the sublime “Flatlands” 17 years earlier] and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it still worked. Making a deliberately lo-fi album on 8-track tape with local Granada, Spain musicians he had seen busking, it was certainly a radical shift from the kinds of music that The Blow Monkeys were known for.
It spoke of his vitality as a songwriter that the man was not hurting for great songs. Having recorded five Blow Monkeys albums [one live] in seven years was the kind of productivity that was defiantly old school in an era when all of the other bands I followed for as long were down to a “new album” every five years” track…if that! It just spoke to his work ethic and determination that he was able to produce music on this sort of timetable as effectively as he did.
It was somewhere in this span of time that Dr. Robert had some sort of health scare that shook things up a bit. I can find references to it online in articles and interviews, but no particulars. As to exactly what had happened to him, I’ll not venture any opinions in the mean time. Only to suggest that he looked slimmer by the time that the photos for “Out There” made the rounds as opposed to several years earlier.
The next year brought another album, this time back with The Blow Monkeys mothership. Once more, the band crowdsourced the project on Pledge Music in the spring of 2017 with some shocking news regarding the keenly stable band lineup that had lasted from 1981 until 2015. Since the band were recording in Spain at Dr. Robert’s Granada locale, Tony Kiley was said to be unable to make it to the sessions, leaving newcomer Crispin Taylor manning the drums. In the emails to the mailing list during the campaign, Dr. Robert proclaimed that this new album was a case of the band getting back to their Soul roots. So it was with that notion that a copy of the autographed CD crossed my threshold later that year. Each band member had signed it in a different color pen with all four colors vibing sweetly with the watercolor artwork. What would it hold?
Next: …Something Wild