By Tom Beaujour
In the July/August issue of Guitar Aficionado (on stands now), former Band guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Robbie Robertson showcases his wonderful collection of guitars and discusses the making of his new album, How to Become Clairvoyant. Here are four career-spanning examples of his impeccable guitar work to listen to as you peruse the article and photos of his fine instruments.
1) "Who Do You Love"
(The Band: A Musical History, 2005)
This excellent early, pre-Band track, when the group was still in the employ of Ronnie Hawkins and dubbed the Hawks, showcases Robertson delivering sharp, thoughtful licks over a Bo Diddley classic. It's easy to see what attracted Bob Dylan to this unit's sheer momentum, along with surfeit of soul. Here's the Band performing the song with Hawkins years later at their final concert.
2) "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)"
(The Band, 1969)
The studio version of this Band classic boasts incredibly tasteful and mature rhythmic fills while the dry-as-a-bone solo demonstrates Robertson's fearless, no-nonsense approach to the instrument. Overdrive, reverb, and fuzz need not apply. The following video is from a promotional film in which the band performs the song live and Robertson coaxes a growling series of licks and fills from his Epiphone Sheraton.
3) "Further On Up the Road"
(The Last Waltz, 1978)
On this classic blues rave-up from the Band's historic farewell concert, Robertson soundly trounces guest vocalist and good friend Eric Clapton in a series of incendiary traded choruses. Any doubts as to whether Robertson is one of classic rock's greats are put to rest here.
4) "He Don't Live Here No More"
(How To Become Clairvoyant, 2011)
The propulsive first single from Robertson's first solo release in more than a decade again features Eric Clapton on backup vocals and slide guitar. The unusual solo, performed on a gut-string 1928 Martin 000-45, shows that Robertson, far from resting on his laurels, is still intent on challenging the accepted sounds and modalities of rock guitar playing. You can hear the song here.