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Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Big Moon Ritual/ The Magic Door

I have a somewhat difficult relationship with Chris Robinson. Some of his work with the Black Crowes I absolutely love (the first album and By Your Side) and much of it I find self-indulgent and bereft of imagination. The Crowes were also responsible for one of the most tedious evenings of my life when they noodled away for interminable hours at Blackburn's King Georges Hall at the height of their success.

Therefore it was with some trepidation that I bought Big Moon Ritual note that, bought, none of your free shit here, oh no and I was blown away. I mainly bought it because Neal Casal was on it and I love his solo work. Casal's all over Big Moon Ritual especially the opener "Tulsa Yesterday" which meanders its way into a fabulous 11.54 minutes of laid back jamming. This isn't mainstream chart-friendly pop music. Here the music is given time to breath, none of the album's seven songs clock in at under seven minutes. Bizarrely, given the name of the band Chris Robinson's soulful vocals are by no means the focal point yet he still sounds great and it shows the bands' confidence that such a powerful weapon is arguably underemployed.

One of the reasons I am writing about these two records together is because they were recorded at the same sessions. One could argue that they should have been released as one set, however, they are decidedly different beats. Big Moon Ritual is arguably CRB being laid back in an Allman Brothers style whilst The Magic Door is the band morphing into a Grateful Dead kind of groove. Both albums are utterly wonderful for just getting lost in. There aren't many albums these days which I can listen to and not do something else like the ironing but these two just beg to be listened to in rapt attention. It would be fair to say that Big Moon Ritual is Casal's album and that on The Magic Door he gives way to keyboard player Adam MacDougall but such is the tightness of the band both albums are essential listening. There's even a shortish song on The Magic Door, a cover of Hank Ballad's "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" which evokes memories of the Stones and for me, early 70s Quo and is in every way just wonderful.

I would be very surprised if both these albums don't feature highly in my top 10 list for 2012.

Track Listing:
Big Moon Ritual
  1. Tulsa Yesterday
  2. Rosalee
  3. Star or Stone
  4. Tomorrow Blues
  5. Reflections on a Broken Mirror
  6. Beware, Oh Take Care
  7. One Hundred Days of Rain

The Magic Door

  1. Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go
  2. Someday Past the Sunset
  3. Appaloosa
  4. Vibration and Light Suite
  5. Little Lizzie Mae
  6. Sorrows of a Blue Eyed Liar
  7. Wheel Don't Roll

Added: September 17th 2012
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1871
Language: english

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