Chris Robinson Brotherhood: The Magic Door

Jazzy psychedelia and more.

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Blooded in a mighty 2011 tour, the band fronted by the Black Crowes stoner-rock satyr Chris Robinson and Americana guitar prince Neal Casal evidently hit the ground running with their impressive debut.

Recorded during the same sessions as an additional album, The Magic Door runs a crazy but emotionally rich course. A beautiful blend of accommodating looseness plus high flown musical ideals and invention, The Brotherhood’s resourcefulness shines.

They are as comfortable parlaying the sweet country soul of lyrical closer Wheel Don’t Roll as they are tracing the outer reaches of galactic and inner consciousness exploration on Vibration & Light Suite, a three-bong cousin to the Dead’s Dark Star, if ever there was one.

Free from brotherly rivalry, Robinson’s team playing is impressive. And the full range of his talents , including his best Southern tent show queen vamp on the shakin’, struttin’ Sorrows Of A Blue-Eyed Liar, gets an airing.

His guitar sets up Casal’s lead work and the instrumental prowess of their associates – Adam MacDougall, a keyboardist with an infinite range of colouring, and the incorrigibly funky rhythm of Mark Dutton and George Sluppick – is thrilling. Feel free to fratnernise.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.