Robert Rex Waller Jr. – See The Big Man Cry
This collection has some interesting covers & would make the focus more on Robert Rex Waller Jr’s interpretive skills. Sometimes not singing your own compositions can be more of a challenge since you’re taking another’s source material. You need to be a singer with technique to recreate an entirely different take from the original. That’s basically what Robert has done.
This CD is his 2nd solo effort. Produced by guitarist Carla Olson the 13 cuts of See The Big Man Cry (Drops Oct 20-Have Harmony, Will Travel/BFD/The Orchard) start with The Walker Brothers’ classic by Bob Crewe & Bob Gaudio (of Four Seasons fame) composed “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.”
I didn’t expect Waller to approach the magnificence of Scott Walker’s baritone or the superb arrangement that single spread over pop radio in the 60s. But, whoa. His rendition has radiance & purity without too much drama. It has the intensity of Scott’s. I’m pleasingly surprised. Impressed, to say the least.
He performs “Girl of My Dreams,” & “Amanda Ruth,” (a Rank & File tune) with a Rocky Burnette sensibility that rocks hard melodically & drives hard like a plow through snow. Another winner. I feel like I’m listening to the Top 25 surveys of R&R 60s radio all over again. All skillfully played & entertaining. This is what the late Eddie Rabbit achieved for a while with his “Drivin’ My Life Away,” & Burnette did with “Tired of Toein’ the Line.” Country music with a pop sensibility that doesn’t dilute the Country tradition.
Waller has a battery of musicians who are tight, with the power in their performances to fascinate. With “I’ll Never Dance Again,” Waller does a Barry Mann-Mike Anthony tune. Mann was famous as a 60s songwriter with Cynthia Weil who together charted with varied artists 53 hits including with Phil Spector the masterful “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.’” Ms. Weil passed away in 2023. Mann had a hit of his own with “Who Put the Bomp.” A nice trumpet addition to this arrangement makes the song shine even more.
Additionally, some tunes Waller resurrected were earlier hits for artists like Bobby Rydell, Bram Tchaikovsky & Bruce Springsteen with a dash of country fare from Charlie Louvin, Freddie Hart & Gene Clark. His stellar band comes from a variety of exceptional sources.
Highlights – “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” “Girl of My Dreams,” “I’ll Never Dance Again,” “Let Her Go Down,” “Tougher Than The Rest,” “Amanda Ruth” & “Gypsy Rider.”
Musicians – Mike Clinco, Mikal Reid, Paul Lacques & John York (guitars), Paul Marshall (bass/harmony), Benjamin Lecourt (drums/percussion), Skip Edwards (piano/accordion/B3 organ), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violins/viola/cello), Gia Ciambotti, Carla Olson & Gregg Sutton (harmony), Stephen McCarthy (lap steel/guitar), JD Walter (pedal steel guitar) & Matt Von Roderick (trumpet).
Cover CD photo courtesy of BG Porter. The 51-minute CD @ Amazon & https://www.robertrexwallerjr.com/