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Robertson, Brian: Diamonds and Dirt

Brian Robertson will always have a place in the hearts of hard rock fans thanks to his classic work with Thin Lizzy back in the 1970's, his early 80's work with Wild Horses, as well as his brief stint in heavy metal heroes Motorhead. However, since leaving Motorhead in the mid-80's, not much has been heard from the guitar legend, until now that is. Diamonds and Dirt is Robertson's first ever solo album, and though it's come perhaps 25 years too late, it's still a fairly solid release that showcases his tasty guitar licks quite nicely.

There's a certain late 80's hard rock/blues rock feel throughout Diamonds and Dirt that is enjoyable, though I'm not sure just who this sort of thing would be targeted at here in 2011. Robbo handles all the guitars, plus some vocals alongside ex-MSG singer Leif Sundin, ex-Riverdogs belter Rob Lamothe, and the strong backing vocals from Liny Wood, Ellinor Alm, and Therion bassist Nalley Pĺhlsson. Drums are handled by Europe's Ian Haugland, and he does a fine job.

The CD includes a mix of covers and original material. Robertson delivers some tasty slide guitar to the bluesy Frankie Miller track "Mail Box" as well as Phil Lynott's "Running Back". 80's styled rockers "Passion" and the title track are quite successful with some interesting guitar riffs and solid vocal melodies, but some of the other songs have a generic Black Crowes/ZZ Top feel to them and don't really cut the mustard. When Robbo & Co. deliver the hard rock, like on "Do It Till We Drop", complete with some slashing wah-wah guitars, the results are very enjoyable.

Despite some solid songs, Diamonds and Dirt doesn't quite have enough to keep you coming back for more, but the positives do outweigh the negatives, and anytime you get a dose of Brian Robertson is reason enough to celebrate.

Track Listing
01: Diamonds And Dirt (Brian Robertson)
02: Passion (Brian Robertson)
03: It's Only Money (Phil Lynott)
04: Mail Box (Frankie Miller)
05: Running Back (Phil Lynott)
06: Texas Wind (Brian Robertson)
07: Devil In My Soul (Brian Robertson)
08: Do It Till We Drop (Drop It) (Frankie Miller/Jeff Barry/Brian Robertson)
09: Blues Boy (Brian Robertson/Phil Lynott)
10: That's All...! (Brian Robertson)
11: 10 Miles To Go On A 9 Mile Road (Jim White)
12: Running Back (Phil Lynott) (slow version)
13: Ain't Got No Money (Frankie Miller) (bonus track)

Added: May 14th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Brian Robertson @ SPV Records
Hits: 2972
Language: english

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Robertson, Brian: Diamonds and Dirt
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-05-14 06:14:54
My Score:

There are famous people and there are infamous people. The Scottish and former Thin Lizzy/Motörhead/Wild Horses guitarist, Brian Robertson is both of these things. First coming to notoriety in 1974 as half of the GREATEST twin lead guitar duo on the planet in Thin Lizzy, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham trail blazed a path that is still being walked down today. And 2011 finds Robbo finally releasing his first solo disc entitled, Diamonds and Dirt (SPV/Steamhammer), a mixture of blues based Rock n Roll with a couple of special ditties thrown in for good measure.

Diamonds And Dirt consists of 13 tracks in all featuring self penned Robertson tracks, as well as a couple of Lizzy re-do's, as well as an unreleased Phil Lynott/Robertson tune called, "Blues Boy". The result is a Rock n Roll mélange of Blues based efforts that allow Robbo's classic lead work to shine through. Lead off track, "Diamonds And Dirt" finds Robbo leaning heavily on that old wah-wah pedal, coaxing out bends that are unmistakably Robertson trademarks. The song itself is a steady mover with nice vocal lines highlighted with female and male harmonized choral parts. The song has a very radio friendly sound to it, very Adult Contemporary and very soothing. The verses and chorus will easily get stuck in your head with its very sing-a-long-able vocal lines. "Passion" the 2nd track off of Diamonds And Dirt again is filled with vocals from Leif Sundin (John Norum and Michael Schenker Group) and elegant background vocals from bassist/background singer, Ms. Nalley Pahlsson. Another Robbo written song that is again a Rocker at heart but filled with that same Adult Contemporary, Bluesy feel. A great feel and groove for sure.

Robbo wouldn't leave all the Lizzy Head's out there wanting to hear a rendition or two of a Thin Lizzy classic and up comes the Nightlife classic, "It's Only Money". This Lynott tune was on the 1st Robbo record with Lizzy and it's as down and dirty as in '74 with Robbo just strangling the hell out of his Les Paul and being heavy footed on the Wah pedal again to drive out some of his best leads on the record. What an excellent cover of an already excellent song!! Another Thin Lizzy tune gets a make over and this time it's "Running Back" from the 1976 timeless classic, Jailbreak. But unlike "It's Only Money", this version is much, much different than the Lizzy original. Robbo manages to come up with an almost old time Rock n Roll/Rockabilly vibe that is much quicker paced than the Lynott original. Different for sure but not sure if I quite dig it, but you be the judge. Along with that, Robertson has also included another alternate slow version of "Running Back" as a bonus track.

Another highlight on the record is the track, "Texas Wind" with its atmospheric opening and the Robbo, ala Motorhead "One Track Mind" guitar solo. This along with the excellent "Devil In My Soul", where Robbo gets to let loose with a slide, are the most textured and diverse song on the record and really shows Robbo as a good songwriter. But the most anticipated song to finally find its way to the ears of Lizzy fans is the never released, "Blues Boy" co-written by Robertson and Phil Lynott. In a very much traditional Blues vamp, "Blues Boy" is a cool tune but it does lack that Lynott voice to it. I would LOVE to hear a version with Phil's throaty vocals over the top. Robbo tugs and pinches his way through this tune in a very smokey and alcohol fueled way. It just wreaks of cool and swagger that this Scot still possesses.

All and all, Diamonds and Dirt is a successful 1st solo effort by a man that deserves so much more credit and notoriety than he has been given. A living guitar legend that has been SO influential to generations of guitar players, worldwide! As a teenaged member of Thin Lizzy that played on 6 albums that changed the sound of guitar harmonies and song arrangements for good and as a member of the Speed Metal Godfathers, Motorhead on the much overlooked and KILLER, Another Perfect Day, Robbo has been delivering the goods for nearly 5 decades now and he shows no signs of slowing down. Diamonds And Dirt also features the drum exploits of Ian Haugland of Europe and features the great voice of Riverdogs vocalist, Rob Lamothe on the Frankie Miller tune, "Ain't Got No Money". Diamonds And Dirt isn't as rocking across the board as I had hoped, but it is a very solid and quality effort by a guitarist that will always hold a special spot in my heart. Robbo, it's great to see ya back on the scene!

Robertson, Brian: Diamonds and Dirt
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-27 18:43:59
My Score:

When I first heard that one time Thin Lizzy, Wild Horses and Motorhead guitarist Brian Robertson had recorded an album formed round songs from old cassettes he discovered in a bag in his house, I have to say that I was extremely excited at the prospect of hearing some Lizzy infused, rock and roll. However the first thing that strikes you when you play Diamonds And Dirt is that bar the odd Lizzy cover there really is little indication that Robbo was ever a member of the much revered Irish rockers, with instead a much lighter almost soft rock approach, that has a strong bluesy overtone being in evidence across much of this disc.

It may not have been what I was expected, but that doesn't stop Robertson's first solo effort in almost a quarter of a century being an album that contains a few excellent songs, or it being an entertaining listen. Joining Robertson is Europe drummer Ian Haugland, Treat and Therion bassist Nalley Pahlsson, singer Liny Wood, who adds some lovely backing vocals and Leif Sundin once of MSG, who also adds backing and the odd lead vocal. Robbo handles the majority of the singing and it has to be said that he has a voice with a blues soaked drawl that adds a lot of character to the songs.

Three of the songs have a link with Robertson's old Lizzy mate Phil Lynott, with cover version of "It's Only The Money" from Lizzy's Nightlife album and "Running Back" from Jailbreak. The latter takes on a more barroom boogie feel, while a bonus, slower version of the same song veers more into straight blues territory, while "It's Only Money" on the other hand sounds like it is right out of Lynott's back pocket, with its joyous guitar solo being a brooding highlight to the album. "Blues Boys" is a previously unreleased collaboration between Lynott and Robertson and while it is obviously of interest for that fact, in truth the standard blues rock fare is a little underwhelming. Three tracks by Frankie Miller also show up, with "Mailbox" being a decent piece of soft rock, while "Do It 'Till We Drop (Drop It)" adds a more metallic riff based edge to a similar theme. "Ain't Got No Money" on the other hand comes on like a classy Bad Company track and the guest vocal from Riverdogs frontman Rob Lamothe is perfect for this song. Of the tracks to come from Robertson's pen, the opening duo of "Diamonds And Dirt" and "Passion" take us into Robin Beck like melodic rock territory via the wonderful female vocal tones of Wood, who adds some sumptuous backing vocals to these songs. "Texas Wind" and "Devil In My Soul" on the other hand see us heading into ZZ Top like blues rock, while "That's All" is an excellent showcase for Robertson's phenomenal guitar playing.

Not too surprisingly with all the varying writing partners and sources for these songs Diamonds and Dirt isn't the most cohesive of albums, but there is more than enough here to leave no doubt that with the right set of songs that Brian Robertson could still be a major force, this just isn't quite that set of songs.

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