Robby Vee – Double Spin
Released June 2023 Reviewed October 2023 by Jack Buy the album here: https://robbyvee.bandcamp.com/album/double-spin
No guessing who this artist is related to, that’s right, you got it in one. Robby Vee is the son of 1960s Pop legend, the late Bobby Vee. When I started collecting records at around the age of 12, I had a fair few Bobby Vee LPs & 45s. even though my tastes have matured towards the harder end of The Big Beat, I still have affection for Bobby’s early 60s catalogue. Whilst it is true that Snuff Garratt’s strings, which also covered Johnny Burnette’s Liberty recordings, were OTT, records like Run To Him, Sharing You, More Than I Can Say & The Night Has A Thousand Eyes are great timeless Pop records. Bobby also recorded some really interesting stuff in the mid to late 60s, a lot of great Psych0Pop & a fair amount of Blue-Eyed Soul which wouldn’t have sounded out of place if it had gained traction of the UK Northern Soul Scene. Check out great cuts like Run Like The Devil & I’m Gonna Make It Up To You. But we’re not here to talk about Bobby, it’s his son’s latest LP Double Spin that is the focus of this write-up. Robby can’t help but be influenced by his dad, along with all the greats of early RnR, from Buddy Holly to Eddie Cochren. However, he is determined to find his own sound & make his own mark in music. To that aim, he has succeeded. Whilst his vocal delivery is similar to that of his late father, he has his own distinctive style, & his influences, as we shall see later, are far & wide reaching. Robby does consider his sound an extension to his dad’s Nothing Like A Sunny Day album period, an album I shall be checking out when I’ve completed this piece. The majority of tracks are co-written by Robby. Some he co-wrote with Bobby. Another coo-writer is Wayne Carson, who wrote The Letter by The Box Tops as well as Elvis’ Always On My Mind, one of my personal favourite of The King’s later period. A third co-writer is Andrew Hall, who Robby tells me is a talented poet from Vegas. The players on the album are; Jeff Bjork (drums) Brian Williams (Base) Dana Killam (Violin) Jimmy Greenwell (Sax) & of course Robby on lead vocals & playing a mean guitar, showing off some great six-string skills. Ok, let’s go to the album itself.
Buzz; A great way to kick off the album. This is an upbeat rocker that reminds me of the 70s work of Dave Edmonds, which in my view is no bad thing. Whilst similar to Dave in both vocal delivery & guitar licks, Robby immediately stamps his own style on the record. It’s a fun track & sets us off to a flying start.
Monsoon Sunset; this is a nice Americarna-type track with a positive message. Robby deals with the topic of getting through life’s troubles & coming out the other side with great ease. When you come out the other side, you will see the Monsoon Sunset, great imagery.
Before Majesty; A Pop number. The lyrical content of this track is interesting. Robby is a purple dragon looking for love, perhaps from a purple girl. TBH this track wasn’t to my taste,that doesn’t mean it’s bad though, it isn’t & will appeal to some. If Robby fancies earning some extra money, he could do worse than pitch this track to one of the modern Pop stars, as it could appeal to one of the many male singers & become a hit, just a thought.
Love Supreme; one thing I wasn’t expecting was Jazz references, yet here we are. This track combines Robby’s seeming love for Jazz, & love for a woman in general to make a most satisfying upbeat number. The sax at the beginning reminds me of JD McFearson. I enjoyed the lines ‘I’ll provide the Coltraine, you bring the Miles’ of course references to Jazz greats John Coltraine & Miles Davis. The title is a tribute to the classic 1964 John Coltraine album, often considered his finest work.
Perfume; a nice Americarna love song. The intro reminds me of Run To Him, a 1961 UK top 10 hit for his dad. As a sidenote, Bobby had five UK top 10 hits in 1961 alone. The guitar playing in this number reminds me of both the great Duane Eddy, & of more recent times, the English guitarist Richard Hawley. This is a fine compliment indeed, as they are two of my all-time favourite players.
Song of Songs (Ballad of Old Souls); another track with interesting poetic lyrics that could be interpreted in different ways. It seems to deal with loving an older woman, but their love seems to have existed since the dawn of time. In any case, the Bible-belt Preachers don’t approve. I’m always one for different lyrics so this track works.
A Forever Kind of Love; here we come to a tribute to his dad. This Goffin/King track gave Bobby a UK top 20 hit at the end of 1962, yet it failed to break the Billboard Hot 100. A shame as this is a really nice Pop record. Robby does a faithful cover.
Calianna’s Lullaby; the intro to this reminds me of Hotel California by The Eagles, but that’s where any similarities to that group end. This is a really good dark & moody Americarna track. Again, the lyrics are quite poetic & are open to interpretation, but I believe the end message to be a positive one.
Blue Moon Blues; well, you now from the title this isn’t going to be a happy tune. It reminds me a little of 70s Elvis, not in the vocals, but just a bit in the backing track. It’s aclassic song of heartbreak that all RnR & classic Pop fans know & should love, the end result’s rather lovely.
Tucson Girl; another Americarna song, which turns the Country influences up a notch, where Robby tells us how lovely, crazy, & generally great his lady is. It’s a really fun song.
Dashboard Jesus; defiantly the oddest title for a track on the album. This has a bit of a 1980s Johnny Cash feel about it, that interesting period where he was about to be dropped by Columbia, along with his early Mercury Records period. It’s a really nice song about looking back fondly on life’s journey, giving thanks, & looking positively towards the future.
Wanna Dance; a great feel-good track. Again, he hear Dave Edmonds in the vocal delivery & guitar technique. A fun track about being glad to be home, surrounded by loved-ones, & wanting to dance & have a good time.
Good Morning; a track with both a Country & late-era Beatles feel. A really nice way to end an enjoyable album.
Conclusion; this album won’t be for everyone. For those seeking wild Rockabilly or Psychobilly, you’ll be best seeking elsewhere. However, for those curious with wide musical taste, especially American music, you should find much to enjoy here amongst the 13 tracks. Robby Vee has big shoes to fill given the fame of his late-father. Rather than stand in the shadows, he has developed his own style. Yes he wears his influences on his sleeve, from Country to RnR & yes his dad, yet the end result is unique to Robby. He’s found his own sound that should win him many new fans. As a final note, I saw Robby when I was 14 in 2008. It was on a tour where he wanted to get back to playing the clubs, having mainly played theatres for RnR shows. He put on a great show, playing some fine Rock & Roll. I particularly remember enjoying his cover of Eddie’s 20 Flight Rock. So this album has been somewhat of a surprise, I expected more of the 50s sounds I remember seeing him play live. However, this surprise has very much been a pleasant one, I have enjoyed listening & reviewing this enjoyable album & look forward to more music from Robby Vee.