Dr. Robert

Realms of Gold

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Dr. Robert is the moniker under which former Blow Monkey Robert Howard recorded his 1997 solo release Realms of Gold. Enlisting guest musicians like drummer Alan White and Paul Weller, who figures in the mix significantly playing piano, guitar, and contributing backing vocals, Howard creates a delightful collage of literate pop/rock that is heavily British-influenced. Many of the offerings have a spiritual bent, like the resilient "Follow Your Path," with its sweet, infectious chorus, and the Hammond-organ driven "The Coming of Grace." There's a lot to choose from on Realms of Gold and a variety of styles, from the '60s-flavored pop of "Lucifer's Friend" to the gentle strings of the wry "Ode to Bacchus" to the almost lounge-pop of "Sanctuary," all delivered with heart and melody. The highlights bookend the album in the title track, which starts with a slow, acoustic blues feel and becomes a driving shuffle with some fierce slide guitar, and closes with "So Slow the Rain," a beautiful folk-tinged ballad. A lovely surprise for those who might only know Howard for the Blow Monkeys' 1986 hit "Digging Your Scene."

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