Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #12410  by bobbybobbob
 Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:04 pm
Okay, I love his music, mostly with The Band, but I really dig this Native American stuff he has done lately. He is one fo the top 5 greatest rock/folk song writers ever, no doubt about it


I don't see why people say he's such a great guitarist. DONT GET ME WRONG, he has some great chops and talent, but I don't think there's anything that unique about his sound.

Maybe I'm just not listening to the right stuff. Can someone please enlighten me? I'd like to think he's one of the best.

 #12411  by Chief5959
 Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:13 pm
I would suggest listening to King Harvest from the second album, It Makes No Difference from Northern Lights, Orange Juice Blues from the Basement Tapes and Don't Do it from either Rock of Ages or the Last Waltz. His playing is very tasty and there are a lot of cool pinched strings and harmonic stuff that he does. According to the Band bio he made a decision after being in the hawks that he did not want to be a "gunslinger" and churn out solos.

 #12421  by AugustWest
 Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:00 pm
He is one of my favorite guitar players. Is he more talented or better than most, I don't know. I do like his ability to add so much to a song by playing so little. He has a great understanding of space and his guitar playing never seems forced or over the top. Is trey, hendrix, scofield, or whoever a better guitar player than robbie? Probably so, but Robbie's playing has more of a rootsy and soulful feel in just 3 notes, then most guitar players ever get out of their playing. I don't know if that even made sense. anyway there is my drunk 2 cents.

 #12424  by james the bassist
 Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:21 pm
simply put one of the best ever.Check out the last waltz,he stands toe to toe with clapton

 #12438  by amyjared
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:14 am
I don't see why people say he's such a great guitarist. DONT GET ME WRONG, he has some great chops and talent, but I don't think there's anything that unique about his sound.
I love Robbie and think he's incredible. I read your post and wondered what your criteria is for being a "great guitarist"? From what you wrote, it would seem to be that just having a unique sound is what does it? If that's the case, then maybe he's not great. I base it upon other criteria, such as influential and copied they are, how they move me, whether I could do anything close to what they do, how technically proficient they are, how easy they make it look,and yes, even their sound. Robbie has done some amazing things in my eyes and ears and he also has done many movie soundtracks and produced the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gig during their inception ceremony (among others).
I listen to the Band all the time and Robbie's way of being a team player is incredible, imho. Give the Last Waltz a try.

 #12440  by hesgone95
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:34 am
I've always thought that one of the things that made him amazing was his ability to blend as it were. His rhythm and melody just flowed with the rest of the band. In gerneral I think that was one of the best things about The Band. All of them phenomenal musicians, but nobody looked to be the 'leader', if that makes sense. He's not a huge over the top solist like some others, but as was stated in previous posts he could definitely stand toe to toe with other 'gunslingers'. One of my all time favorite studio solos is on Jawbone from the Brown Album. Check it out!

Just my two cents. :-)

 #12441  by Shaggy
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:35 am
Great guitar player. His thing is very subtle, it's his fills and backing up what makes him special and where he peaks and where he's at his most interesting. He was one of the first in rock music to show the world that it's okay to just play your part on a song and just nail it with a few tasty licks without playing an epic groundbreaking solo every song. But he could do that too, when playing with Bob Dylan, Bob gave him a lot of room and freedom to solo his ass off and he has those chops too when he wants to. Fine songwriter too.

 #12449  by BlobWeird
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:30 pm
I think he's an amazing guitarist. He is simple with his playing but he takes good care of each note he plays and plays them well. I love his use of harmonics all the time. As everyone else stated definitely check out The Last Waltz dvd or cd. There is alot of other good stuff on there besides Robbie also. I mean come on Dr John! But yeah Robbie is the man! and so is Levon and Danko!

 #12456  by AugustWest
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:14 pm
Danko is the best. IMO the best and most soulful voice in all of rock n roll. Levon had the grit and fire, but Danko was honey and money. Great band.

 #12458  by Shooster
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:15 pm
I've always been more of a Richard Manuel man myself, singing wise. His rendition of "I Shall be Released" is killer.

 #12460  by Chief5959
 Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:43 pm
Well Robbie was never a singer. The story is that in The Last Waltz Robbie's mic was off during the songs because he could go way out of tune, however the image was good.
 #12467  by tigerstrat
 Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:01 am
bobbybobbob wrote:I don't see why people say he's such a great guitarist. DONT GET ME WRONG, he has some great chops and talent, but I don't think there's anything that unique about his sound.
I have to come out and say that I pretty much agree. Thank you for stating that! Don't get me wrong either: He's very competent, with some very pleasantly mind-boggling chops, but I've always cringed at his live AMPLIFIER TONE, moreso with The Band than his earlier Hawks/Dylan band period. The Band live stuff sounds soooooooo dry and piercingly trebly. Dentist-drill-to-the eardrum. Could it be that he was still trying to use settings/technique that had sounded good with ol' Tweed and/or Blonde Fender amps, and didn't translate well to newer Silverface gear? Total speculation on my part, I'm not even sure of what amps he was using at any point. I wanna say they sound like Bassmans much of the time (and the wide range of sounds they've had thru the 60's/70's)

And a big ol' YMMV to cap off such a controversial post. :shock:

 #12793  by cunamara
 Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:28 pm
I think of Robbie Robertson along the same lines as Steve Cropper- talented and with plenty of chops, but not a show-off. His playing serves the song, rather than the song being a platform for soloing. Nothing wrong with either approach IMHO, BTW.

Robbie Robertson and the Band were what part of what killed Cream. Clapton heard "Music from Big Pink" and thought "that's what I want to be doing, not these huge solos and big long jams."

"Northern Lights, Southern Cross" is a great record with some fantastic songwriting and guitar chops, but no big solos.