Robert Hunter

Rock Columbia

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After the ambitious rock opera Amagamalin Street and the album-length poem Flight Of The Marie Helena, Robert Hunter made Rock Columbia, an album of unrelated pop-rock songs, on which he was backed by a conventional rock band instrumentation. The approach revealed Hunter's strengths as well as his weaknesses. His lyrics less poetic than usual but no more direct, he wrote ordinary melodies that lacked the indiosyncratic charm of Jerry Garcia's, and he sang in a less-than-commanding voice. Some of the songs, notably the romantic "Aim At The Heart" and the title song, were enjoyable efforts. But too much of this was slight, and even when it had possibilities, it was presented without musical invention--you couldn't help thinking what the Dead might have done with a slow shuffle like "Who, Baby, Who?," even as you noticed that Hunter and his band weren't doing that much with it.

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