robert jon & the wreck

(Photo: John Hampton)
(Header photo: Brian Greenberg)

Back in the mid-Seventies, I was all over Southern Rock; Lynyrd Skynyrd (obviously!); The Outlaws; Marshall Tucker Band; Grinderswitch, and others all found a place in my record collection.

Then, along came Punk.

I always was a fickle kid, and though my love of these bands did not exactly fade, their albums would make much less frequent visits to the turntable.

In recent years though, having been forced by my wife to endure hour upon hour of American Idol, my interest in country based sounds has been reignited. And when I listen to likes of Robert Jon & The Wreck, I realise now what I’ve been missing.

‘Shine A Light On Me Brother, (released on 3rd September 2021) is the result of enforced ‘downtime’ during the Covid pandemic, and will be the band’s sixth studio album. With a couple of EPs / CD Live recordings thrown in since their inception ten years ago in Orange County, California, then by today’s standards, I guess they’d fall into the prolific bracket.

Their hard-working ethics have seen them tour coast to coast in their homeland, as well as travelling the world and playing before huge sell-out crowds when supporting likes of Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Living Colour, Walter Trout, Black Stone Cherry and the Chris Robinson Band.

It’s funny that last name came up. Bands, I’m sure, must hate it when folks like me draw similarities between them and other artists. It’s not ‘lazy journalism,’ it’s simply observation in trying to give the reader an inkling of what to expect from an artist / recording. So yeah, overall, though there are variations throughout, I can hear a bit of semblance to the Black Crows at points along the album’s ten track duration.

(New album, front cover.)

The opening, title and lead single, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ can be heard at the beginning of this post. I love the incorporation of a horns section with this southern rock belter. Their blend with the guitar solo and racing piano give the song a feel of, dare I say it, The Allman Brothers mashing it up with The Blues Brothers band. (Oh, if only that were possible!)

Here’s track number two, ‘Everyday,‘ for you decide upon. A real toe-tapper with a shuffling beat, neat, zippy, guitar work and an overall. gospel feel.

‘Ain’t No Young Love Song’ opens with a stomping beat that’s maintained throughout. The piano is swapped for the hammond organ which is given some prominence and there’s the prerequisite guitar solo of course. The chorus has a real big hook and I think you’d file this one under ‘anthemic.’

The pace slows for ‘Chicago,’ which takes a more soulful turn, with the horns giving a bit of a Stax sound. The vocals are BIG, but beautifully controlled and mellow. The sax solo leads into what I think should be a few bars of hand clapping … I was off and running only to feel rather sheepish a moment or two later. (I bet when played ‘live’ the crowds will all do the raised hand-claps as the sax solo ends. You mark my words. )

‘Hurricane,‘ slows the tempo right own. I don’t normally go for slower, acoustic based songs, but I found myself totally immersed in this one. It would be quite easy to drift off (in a complimentary way) to this as the song gently rises and falls like waves on an idyllic beach. My one observation, as if it counts, coming from someone who can’t play a note on anything, is that perhaps instead of the short guitar burst, use of a pedal steel guitar could have been made? Just sayin’ … like, what do I know?

‘Desert Sun’ is another that will have the listener singing along. Medium paced, with a buzz-like guitar and piano prominent throughout, it just has a sort of lazy, warm, sultry feel to it – perhaps influenced by the title, of course.

‘Movin’ ‘ opens with a bit of a dark and threatening rumble of a riff. It’s lifted with the vocals and piano. The bass line and riff remind me of Bryan Ferry‘s version of ‘The Price of Love‘ and I kept wanting to sing the chorus to Tina Turner‘s version of ‘Proud Mary’ come the chorus – but hey! That’s no bad thing, is it?

Anna Maria‘ is a grower. Almost five minutes in length, I wondered where it was going for the first minute and a half, but it builds into a resounding and swirling track with a pretty cool break-down around midpoint that lasts a minute or so before rising to the final crescendo.

The penultimate track ‘Brother,’ sounds so sad, but absolutely captivating. It sounds like it was truly sung from the heart.

And so to the final track, ‘Radio.‘ In a complete contrast to the mood of the previous song, this one bounces through its three minute duration. It’s a really ‘busy’ track with so much going on. Each time I listen I hear something I missed the previous time. If this doesn’t have you dancing your socks off, then you must have flippers for feet.

Yeah – this is some album. Good, strong songs and musicianship throughout, it’s predominately upbeat and / or anthemic. It has a warm, Californian desert feel to it, and one I’d sure like to see performed live.

I must say, I had never heard of this Robert Jon & The Wreck before this landed on my desk. I have to say, I’ll definitely be checking out their back catalogue, now.

***(Robert Jon & The Wreck will be touring UK in late September, 2021. Dates and ticket links can be found on the NEWS PAGE.)***

(From, ‘Last Light on the Highway’ album, released in 2020. This single had an unprecedented 12-week run of radio play on Planet Rock Radio in the UK.) 
(Photo: John Hampton.)

ROBERT JON & THE WRECK

Robert Jon Burrison – Lead Vocals / Guitar
Andrew Espantman – Drums / Vocals
Steve Maggiora – Keyboards / Vocals
Harry James – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Warren Murrel – Bass / Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
 Fire Started CD Album2011N/AListing only albums – singles and EPs can be found here on Discogs.

Glory Bound
LP2015Spitfire Music L.A
Good Life PieLP2016Spitfire Music L.A
Robert Jon & The WreckLP2017The Music Box Los Angeles
Wreckage Vol.1 ‎CD Album2017The Music Box Los AngelesWreckage Vol. 1 is a re-packaging of two of Robert Jon & The Wreck older EP’s, “Rhythm Of The Road EP” and “The RedBull Sessions

Live From Hawaii 
CD Album2018Hampton Productions
Take Me HigherCD Album2019N/A
Last Light On The HighwayLP2020N/A
Shine A Light On Me BrotherLP2021N/A

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