Robbie Robertson (album)

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Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson album.jpg
Studio album by Robbie Robertson
Released October 27, 1987 (1987-10-27)
Recorded 1987 at The Village Recorder, West Los Angeles, CA; U2 Mobile Unit-Danesmote, Dublin, Ireland; Ashcombe House, London, England; A&M Recording Studio, Hollywood, CA; Bearsville Sound Studio, Bearsville, NY; The Hit Factory, NY
Genre Rock
Length 44:19
Label Geffen
Producer Daniel Lanois and Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson chronology
Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson is the self-titled solo debut by Robbie Robertson, released in 1987. The album won the Juno Award for "Album of the Year", and producers Lanois and Robertson won the "Producer of the Year" Juno award, both in 1989 as there were no Juno Awards held in 1988.

The album includes contributions from the members of U2 and Peter Gabriel, both of whom were also working with producer Daniel Lanois at the time. U2 was recording The Joshua Tree and Gabriel was recording So. U2's contribution is heard in the song "Sweet Fire of Love" which is a duet of sorts between Robertson and U2 lead singer Bono. The other track featuring U2 is "Testimony", again with vocals from Bono. Gabriel's contributions are heard on the song "Fallen Angel", which was dedicated to Robertson's former Band bandmate Richard Manuel, and "Broken Arrow" which reverberates with Gabriel's signature Rhodes electric piano. In addition, Tony Levin and Manu Katché, who were recording with Gabriel, are featured prominently on this record. [1]

In 2005 the album was reissued together with its followup Storyville as 2CD in an expanded edition, both with two bonus tracks.


"Broken Arrow"[edit]

This ballad is not to be confused either with Chuck Berry's 1959 single or Buffalo Springfield's 1967 song of the same name written by fellow Canadian Neil Young.

American Rock 'n' Roll band The Grateful Dead started covering "Broken Arrow" in 1992 with bassist Phil Lesh tackling lead vocals. The song became a crowd favorite and one of Lesh's most successful contributions in the later years of the band.

The song was also covered by Rod Stewart on his album Vagabond Heart (1991); the song was released as a single with an accompanying music video.

"American Roulette"[edit]

"American Roulette"'s lyrics deal with the theme of three iconic Americans' rise to popular idolatry and the personal consequences thereof. The song mentions none of these by name and describes them in literary idealistic terms rather than strictly biographical form. The first verse talks about James Dean. The subject of the second verse is Elvis Presley. The third verse tells the story of Marilyn Monroe. Musically, the song is notable for its guitar solo throughout as well as the instrumental outro.

"Somewhere Down the Crazy River"[edit]

When asked about the inspiration for album's single "Somewhere Down the Crazy River", Lanois commented: "Robbie Robertson was describing what it was like to hang out in Arkansas with Levon Helm in his old neighbourhood. He was telling me about the hot nights and fishing with dynamite, and was asking someone for directions for someplace somewhere down the crazy river. ... I had presented him with this instrument that Eno introduced me to called the Suzuki Omnichord, like an electric autoharp. He found a little chord sequence with it that was sweet and wonderful. As he was developing his chord sequence I recorded him and superimposed his storytelling, which I was secretly recording, on top. That was the birth of 'Somewhere Down The Crazy River.' It's kind of like a guy with a deep voice telling you about steaming nights in Arkansas.” [2] This song is notable as Robertson's only solo hit in the UK, reaching #15 on the UK singles chart. His follow-up single there, "Fallen Angel" (also from the album) languished at #95.

"Showdown at Big Sky"[edit]

Sam Llanas, from The BoDeans, provided the distinctive background vocals on this song, BoDeans' Kurt Neumann and he contributed backing vocals to "Somewhere Down The Crazy River"as well as "American Roulette". Due to the popularity of The BoDeans in their home state of Wisconsin, "Showdown at Big Sky" received significant airplay on Milwaukee AOR radio.[citation needed]

"Fallen Angel"[edit]

"Fallen Angel" is lyrically about Robertson's former bandmate Richard Manuel, who took his own life in 1986. Peter Gabriel sings with Robertson on this track.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Robbie Robertson except as noted.[3]

  1. "Fallen Angel" (Robertson, Martin Page) – 5:52
  2. "Showdown at Big Sky" – 4:43
  3. "Broken Arrow" – 5:17
  4. "Sweet Fire of Love" (Robertson, U2) – 5:08
  5. "American Roulette" – 4:46
  6. "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" (Robertson, Martin Page) – 4:44
  7. "Hell's Half Acre" – 3:45
  8. "Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight" – 3:45
  9. "Testimony" – 4:45

Bonus tracks on the 2005 expanded edition:

  1. "Christmas Must Be Tonight" – 4:51   from the soundtrack album Scrooged
  2. "Testimony (Edited 12" Remix)" – 6:34   additional production and remix by Nile Rodgers


Additional personnel[edit]



Chart (1987-1988) Peak
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[4] 14
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[5] 54
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[6] 7
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[7] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[8] 13
UK Albums (Official Charts Company)[9] 23
US Billboard 200[10] 38
Chart (1988) Position
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[11] 93


Year Single Chart Peak
1987 "Showdown at Big Sky" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2 [12]
1987 "Sweet Fire of Love" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 7 [12]
1988 "Showdown at Big Sky" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 21 [12]
1988 "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 24 [12]
1988 "Somewhere Down the Crazy River" UK Singles Charts 15 [9]

Sales certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
BPI – UK Gold September 14, 1988 (1988-09-14) [13]
RIAA – U.S. Gold October 21, 1988 (1988-10-21) [14]
CRIA – Canada Gold February 28, 1989 (1989-02-28) [15]
CRIA – Canada Platinum February 28, 1989 (1989-02-28) [15]
CRIA – Canada 2× Platinum February 28, 1989 (1989-02-28) [15]


  1. ^ The album notes give Ashcombe House, London as a recording venue: this should read Ashcombe House, Bath, Peter Gabriel's home and recording studio at the time the album was recorded.
  2. ^ Tong, Allan (September 2007). "Daniel Lanois Web Exclusive Interview". Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  3. ^ Robbie Robertson. Robbie Robertson (Geffen Records, 1987).
  4. ^ " – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  5. ^ " – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  6. ^ " – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  7. ^ " – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  8. ^ " – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  10. ^ "allmusic (((Robbie Robertson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)))". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  11. ^ JAAROVERZICHTEN - CD 1988 (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d "allmusic (((Robbie Robertson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  13. ^ "BPI Certified Awards". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  14. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  15. ^ a b c "CRIA Certifications". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

External links[edit]