Chris Robinson Brotherhood – The Magic Door (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
TO BEST appreciate Chris Robinson Brotherhood, you’d best know the thinking behind their song-writing. So, here’s what Chris has to say about it…
“In an age of people just writing songs to fit into commercial formats, we feel we’re making recordings for the connoisseurs, people who are into music on a deeper level… We’re interested in songs that we feel fit into our version of the cosmic California boogie.”
That is to say, songs that can run for self-indulgent lengths, that lean towards the ‘70s rock scene and songs that also display borderline trippy/psychedelic tendencies.
Although comprised of ‘only’ seven songs, The Magic Door is actually double the length of most standard releases, and triple the length of song-writers who believe in the opposite: that a catchy tune can rock your world inside a minute and 30 seconds.
While not wanting to do Chris Robinson a disservice, there is a point to a song that clocks in around the three to five minute mark. They leave you wanting more but in a good way. They can brighten your life for a short period of time.
And it’s not just a modern thing – everyone from The Beatles to the Stone via Simon & Garfunkel have made a timeless career out of writing songs to an average length.
The songs on The Magic Door do possess a timeless quality in that they’re steeped in classic rock values and could be sung by the likes of Zeppelin, The Doors and company. But they’re an acquired taste because, quite simply put, they do sometimes go on a bit.
At its best, they deliver rousing guitar offerings such as Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go or Wheel Don’t Roll,while the organ-guitar combo of Someday Past The Sunset has a Doors-like vibe and some glorious instrumental solos. At six minutes and 20 seconds, the latter also just about manages not to outstay its welcome.
But when they deliver songs like Vibration & Light Suite (at over 13 minutes) and Sorrows of a Blue Eyed Liar (over eight) they do tend to test the patience of the listener. And there’s sometimes not enough variation within the song to prevent it from sounding interminable.
And sometimes they’re rambling style makes a shorter song, such as Appaloosa (at just over five minutes), seem long too.
The Magic Door has a lot going for it and much to appreciate. But it does require a certain amount of patience, a lot of spare time and a penchant for self-indulgent rock.
Download picks: Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Someday Past The Sunset, Little Lizzie Mae