Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1970-71)
- David Dee Donaldson (aka Dee Robb) -- vocals, rhythm guitar,
- George Joe Donaldson (aka Joe Robb) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Robert Bruce Donaldson (aka Bruce Robb) -- vocals, keyboards
- Craig Krampf -- drums, percussion
- Floyd Gib Guilbeau -- violin (1970-71)
- Chris Hillman -- bass, mandolin (1970-71)
- Sneaky Pete Kleinow -- pedal steel guitar (1970-71)
- Tony La Tindre -- keyboards. percussion (1970-71)
- Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise (Bruce Donaldson -
- The Robbs (David, George and Robert Donaldson)
- Dee Robb and the Robbins
- Robby and the Robbins
- The Texas Toad Lickers (Bruce Robb)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: 5733
As The Robbs siblings Craig, David (aka Dee), George (aka Joe), and Robert (aka Bruce) Donaldson were signed to Mercury Records and enjoyed a bit of mid-1960s sales success with a string of catchy pop singles and a surprisingly enjoyable LP.
By the early-1970s brother Craig had dropped out (replaced by drummer Craig Krampf) while the other three simblings decided to shift their earlier pop orientation towards a more happenin' country-rock sound under the banner Cherokee (be sure to check out the time-piece ensembles they're wearing).
Signed by ABC Records, their debut LP "Cherokee" was produced by Steve Barri. The album showcased a mix of covers and original material (mostly penned by David). If you were a fan of their Robbs incarnation there was a good chance these eleven country-rock numbers were not going to do a great deal for you. On the other hand, if you were into late-inning Roger McGuinn and the Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, or any number of early-1970s country-rock outfits you'd probably find this one at least somewhat engaging. I can clearly remember initially being less than overwhelmed by the album. It was pleasant, but sounded derivative and it wasn't until I'd spun the LP a couple of times some of its charms started to reveal themselves to my ears. The Donaldsons were clearly talented folks with all three brothers having nice voices. They were also good songwriters with original material like 'Funky Business' and the rocker 'All the Way Home' and 'Feel Us Love' outperforming much of the cover material. Perhaps just a reflection of personal tastes, but I found their rock-oriented performances far stronger than the country-oriented numbers. Among the highlights the country-funk 'Funky Business', 'Strange Ways' and 'All he Way Home'. Not as groundbreaking as some of the competition, but this is one that's grown on me over the years and I now actually prefer it to much of the Poco catalog. Added bonus is that you can still fund affordable copies. Shame they didn't get a chance to record a follow-up album.
There was also a non-LP 45. Originally recorded by Miami's The Birdwatchers, Cherokee's cover of 'Girl I've Got News' was tougher and better than anything in their Robbs catalog or on their album. Their version offered up a sizzling slice of garage aggression that should have been a massive hit for the band.
- 1971's 'Girl I've Got News For You' b/w 'All the Way Home' (ABC catalog number 45-11304)
As far as I know the album and two singles mark the entire Cherokee catalog. Let me know if there's more.
"Cherokee" track listing:
1.) Rosianna (Terry Cashman - Gene Pistilli - Tommy P. West) - 2:30 rating: *** stars
'Rosianna' opened up the collection with a chugging country-rocker that would have sounded right at home in Flying Burrito Brothers/Poco catalogs. Not really bad, but a little too formulaic for my tastes - good song to use playing country rock bingo ... ABC tapped it as a promotional single in the States:
- 1970's 'Rosianna' b/w 'All The Way Home' (ABC catalog number ABC-11295)
2.) Something To Believe In (E. Reeves) - 3:55 rating: *** stars
Dee Donaldson had a nifty voice and adding a bit of rawness to the mix, he used it effectively on the ballad 'Something To Believe In'. Pretty song that certainly had commercial potential.
3.) Funky Business (Joe Donaldson - Craig Krampf) - 2:38 rating: **** stars
I'm not sure that its actually a musical genre, but I'd tag 'Funky Business' as a slice of country-funk. One of two tracks to showcases brother Joe on lead vocals, this one was an atypical rocker that should have excited FM radio. Awesome guitar dynamics between David and Dee.
4.) Lady On My Mind (J. Cooper - J. Gallie) - 2:26 rating: **** stars
Sporting one of the album's prettier melodies and showcasing the brothers' great harmony vocals, Lady On My Mind' actually sounded remarkably like a late-inning Roger McGuinn and the Byrds outtake. Since I'm a big Byrds fan, I liked this one quite a bit.
5.) It Doesn't Matter Anymore (Paul Anka) - 2:42 rating: **** stars
Anytime I see a Paul Anka credit I start to shudder. Luckily my fears were misplaced on this one. Echoing Poco at their most commercial 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' was probably the prettiest song on the collection and would have made a nice single.
6.) Strange Ways (David Donaldson) - 3:20 rating: **** stars
Propelled by a nice fuzz solo from George, 'Strange Ways' was another rocker that aptly demonstrated the band could hold their own in the genre. Surprisingly suggestive lyrics that would have sounded good on early-1970s FM radio.
Side two opened up with the most out-and-out commercial track; 'All the Way Home'. The horns may have been a little off putting for some, but the track had a great melody and top-40 potential. The tune had previously been released as the "B" side to 'Girl I've Got News For You'.
2.) Changin' Winds (David Donaldson) - 3:00 rating: *** stars
With backing from pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow 'Changin' Winds' found the band returning to Poco-styled country-rock territory. Pretty, but nothing spectacular.
3.) Chattanooga (David Donaldson) - 2:31
A conventional country number, 'Chattanooga' was an acquired taste that I simply didn't have.
4.) Feel Us Love (Joe Donaldson - Craig Krampf) - 2:46 rating: **** stars
Judging by 'Feel Us Love' though he only handled lead on a couple of tracks, Joe may have been a better singer than brother Dee.
5.) Catch the Velvet Evening (David Donaldson) - 3:30
For some reason 'Catch the Velvet Evening' has always reminded me of The Eagles. Another country-rocker, the difference on this one comes in the form of the group chorus harmonies which were a dead ringer for what Don Henley and company would be doing in about a year. My favorite of the country-rock offerings.
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