For years Rich Robinson has been known as the guitarist for the Black Crowes. Fans also know that he has always had a tumultuous relationship with his brother Chris and the Black Crowes have taken many breaks over the years. During those breaks Rich Robinson made some solo projects, including an exclusive EP Llama Blues (named for the two llamas who lived on the land surrounding the studio where it was recorded.) The EP, which came out in 2013, contained four songs and was limited to 1,000 copies. It was intended to be a companion to Robinson’s album, Under A Crooked Sun. It became a desired collectible for fans of Robinson and the Black Crowes.
Now, Eagle Rock Entertainment is re-releasing Llama Blues along with Robinson’s other solo project in preparation for his new album to be released in May.
So what can the listener expect from these four songs? Well, they were recorded in a small room with one vintage microphone and they have a very vintage blues sound. The guitar work is, of course, superb. As usual for Robinson’s solo projects the guitars are mixed up front, but this time they do not overshadow the vocals (for better or worse).
The vocals sound vintage too, but as usual Robinson just can’t leave the vocals alone. This time the voice is distorted, sounding much as though Robinson is singing through an old-fashioned megaphone. If only it were a purely instrumental album, this reviewer would like it much better. The harmonica blasting through”By the Light of the Sunset Moon,” the sizzling slide guitar of “Look Through My Window,” the drawn-out “Broken Stick Crown,” and “Run Run” (the most authentic and best song on the EP) all capture the Delta blues sound perfectly as far as the instruments are concerned.
But those vocals! Some people seem to think that the distortion adds authenticity or gives the EP a sort of “honky-tonk” sound. To this reviewer it just sounds annoying. Some old blues recordings may sound similar to this, but not on purpose.
Certainly if you are a fan of Rich Robinson this EP is worth adding to your collection. Otherwise, if you have a tolerance for distortion you will appreciate the great guitar work, but you may wish you could hear it the way he actually sang it.