Robert Gordon,
Robert Gordon
(Llist Records, 1997)

Robert Gordon's self-titled album from Llist Records is a homecoming for both musician and fans. And it is indeed a welcome one. Most of these tunes are covers; their sounds are familiar and nostalgic, but without the stereotypical songs or trite sentimentality that are all too often inherent in such a collection. Instead, there are songs that are representative of their genre and at the same time fresh and vibrant . They pack emotional impact with their honest simplicity and unpretentiousness.

Gordon gives proof of his respected reputation in the business by demonstrating a vast repertoire in this, his first recording since 1994. He spans the whole rockabilly rainbow from '50s bebop and do-wop ("Bertha Lou," "Butterfly," "Marylee") to the most heart-wrenching teary beer country ballads ("If I Had Yesterday to Do Over Again," "All for the Love of a Girl," "Ain't Gonna Cry"). The most familiar song here for the general fan is "Hello Walls," and Gordon's rich, vibrant vocals breathe new life into this standard, making it well worth its addition.

Those who love traditional country will be well pleased with "Seasons of My Heart," "Gonna Romp and Stomp," and even the otherwise lackluster "Last One to Know" becomes mournfully alive under Gordon's deep resonations. "Ten Cats Down" and "Pretty Girls Everywhere" show how the rock got into rockabilly and also offer proof positive that while Carl and Elvis are gone, their unique genre is alive and well. Even the requisite train song, "Train of Love," has a bright beat that makes movement mandatory and keeps the heels kicking.

Robert Gordon is not alone here; he has more than capable assistance from Quinton Jones on guitar, Aaron Walker on drums and Mike Bitts on bass. Brad Waltemyer tears it up on pedal steel while Ralph Miller and Mark Showers aptly handle the keyboards. Ken McCoy on the sax and Jan Luszczek on bass add their expertise also. Background vocals are by Gordon himself as well as Aaron Walker, Mike Bitts and a very welcome Jackie Gordon. These fine musicians blend their talents together well, and Robert Gordon is solid evidence of what happens when talent and love of the music come together.

Even the pacing of the songs adds to the enjoyment of the CD as we are led from fast and snappy to slow and moody to swinging honkytonk frenetics. It is a masterful blend that becomes a solid whole artistically and stimulates warm nostalgia in the listeners. Robert Gordon brings the best of classic country and rock together for a new generation while making us old fans happy with our memories.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]

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