Album Reviews

The Magpie Salute

The Magpie Salute

Artist:     The Magpie Salute

Album:     The Magpie Salute

Label:     Eagle Rock Records

Release Date:     6/9/2017

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A magpie salute sounds suspiciously like flipping someone the bird, but Rich Robinson is too nice a guy for that. Following last year’s official breakup with the Black Crowes (see “Flying Solo”), Rich immersed himself in a series of projects—filling in on guitar as a member of Bad Company and touring with his own band in support of a new album, Flux [add link to review]. Building on the core members he was recording and touring with, Robinson reunited with former Crowe Marc Ford, creating a rollicking ten-piece extravaganza called The Magpie Salute.

The Magpies began touring in January and in June released their self-titled debut album, a collection of ten tracks including the studio cut “Omission.” With chunky guitar riffs and piercing vocals, “Omission” is the album’s designated “single,” at least as far as today’s music industry allows for singles. The remaining tracks were all recorded live at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, New York. Robinson previously recorded his Woodstock Sessions series live, and without dismissing the studio work, the band rises to another level in front of an audience.

In addition to Robinson and Ford, the Magpie lineup includes familiar bandmates Sven Pipien on bass, Nico Bereciartua on guitar, Joe Magistro on drums and the last recorded work of long-time Crowes’ keyboardist Eddie Harsch, who died late last year. The current keyboardist now on tour is Michael Bellar, with John Hogg, Charity White, Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen adding vocal support. Robinson has always had a great ear for identifying songs to cover and make his own, and the Magpies proudly continue that tradition. Standouts span the range from Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” to Bob Marley’s “Time Will Tell.” The rootsy “Aint No More Cain” is reminiscent of The Band, with multiple members taking turns on vocals before coming together on the chorus. The Magpies even cover the Black Crowes on “What Is Home” and “Wiser Time.”

And just in case you’re wondering, the magpie is a member of the crow family. According to British tradition, a magpie salute refers to greeting the bird with a hearty “Good mornin’, Captain” to show you come in peace. There must be something to it, because after many stormy years with the Black Crowes, Rich Robinson seems to have found peace with his Magpie brethren.

=Lou Montesano

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