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Dr. Robert had promised an album that got back to their Soul roots following as Pop/Rock and album as they had ever made and the first of his solo albums in nearly a decade. The sleeve watercolor by Tinsel Edwards, was immediately appealing and the design by Estuary English [Dr. Robert’s son] was immediately appealing. So I wasted no time in playing the new album with anticipation.
The Blow Monkeys
The Wild River | 2017
“Crying For The Moon” had immediate impact as the ’71-’73 Soul vibe was thick and viscous. The additional brass, trumpet, and four piece string section helped this sound go down like Don Cornelius’ baritone…smooooo0th! Right from the starting gate, this album was functioning as musical comfort food of the highest order. The jaunty and effervescent Soul confection on delivery was capable of lifting spirits from the first note straight through to the tight, cold ending. I was immediately smitten with this album and could not wait to hear what was next in the queue from the band. Any concern about having Crispin Taylor in the drumseat caused nary a bead of perspiration in my unfurrowed brow.
Next came another single, with the organ of Mick [ex-Style Council] Talbot leading and more strings and sax vying for our love. The syncopation of Dr. Robert’s vocal on the chorus was a massive hook for this downbeat look a man, god, and disillusionment.The instrumental break on the middle eight of pizzicato strings and warm congas courtesy of Mr. Taylor managed to be reassuring even in the middle of an existential dilemma.
Next came a real change of pace with the flute of Jacko Peake leading “On The Wings Of The Morning” with all of the Lalo Schifrin magic he could conjure up [and that’s a lot]. Dr. Robert’s guitar [the only instrument he played, this time out] was as minimal and funky as Crispin Taylor’s brushed snare backbeat. Strangely enough, the melody of this song makes me think of Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” every time I hear it! But Jethro Tell never had it as good as this song! The interplay of strings and flute took this song out on an appropriately questing note.
Then the last single here was the benedictive title track. The slow fat, Blues guitar licks and swelling strings immediately marked “The Wild River” as musical soul food a a high caliber. I loved the sentiments of “We’re all in the same noat, baby you and me. What kills you, will kill me. There ain’t no winners. There’s no victory.” The extended instrumental coda was where Neville Henry got the spotlight to himself for a heartfelt sax solo that you could launch ships from.
The mood turned a touch funkier for “Landslide Comin'” wherein the band leaned hard into the groove and Dr. Robert took a dive into the sort of song that his mentor Curtis Mayfield would have released 50 years ago. It was an incredible political gospel tune with a massive string section hook in the instrumental middle eight. As usual, the message inspired in ways having everything to do with taking a political stance.
Next: …Fortune + Faith