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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 Påhlsson. 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: 3382
Language: english

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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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