Rick Danko

Band members                             Related acts

- Rick Danko (RIP 1999) -- vocals, bass, rhythm guitar


  supporting musicians (1977)

- James Atkinson -- guitar

- Gerry Beckley -- guitar, backing vocals

- Lewis Bustos -- horns

- Blondie Chaplin -- lead guitar, bass, backing vocals

- Eric Clapton -- lead guitar

- Michael DeTemple -- lead guitar

- Tim Drummond -- bass

- Rob Franboni -- percussion, backing vocals

- James Gordon -- organ, horns

- Levon Helm -- back vocals

- Garth Hudson -- accordion

- Joe Lala (RIP 2014) -- percussion

- Ken Lauber -- piano

- Richard Manuel -- keyboards

- Charles McBurney -- horns

- Rocky Morales -- horns

- Wayne Neuendorf -- backing vocals

- David Paich -- synthesizers

- Jim Price -- horns

- Robbie Robertson -- lead guitar

- Doug Sahm -- lead guitar

- Walt Richardson -- keyboards

- George Webster -- organ

- Ron Wood -- lead guitar





- The Band

- The Canadian Squires

- Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld & Eric Andersen

- The Hawks





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Rick Danko

Company: Arista

Catalog: AB 4141

Country/State: Blayney, Ontario

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original custom inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 430

Price: $15.00


Nine years after joining The Band, singer/bassist Rick Danko became the first member to step out with a solo album - those bass players, always hogging the spotlight !!!   In an interesting move, following The Band's 1976 retirement, Danko was signed by Clive Davis to his newly formed Arista label.  Kind of an odd pairing; guess Davis was either a big Band fan, or simply liked Danko's rugged, good looks.


Co-produced by Danko and Rob Franboni, anyone expecting to hear a Band-styled album was probably somewhat disappointed by 1977's "Rick Danko".   Mind you, Danko's plaintive voice remained instantly recognizable (and to my ears will always be associated with The Band).  Also, abut half of the tunes featured Band-styled Americana edges - check out 'Brainwash', 'Sip the Wine', and 'Sweet Romance'. Moreover, hardcore Band fans certainly took pleasure in knowing that all of the former Band members made cameos on the album:


- Levon Helm - 'Once Upon a Time'

- Garth Hudson - 'New Mexicoe'

- Richard Manuel - 'Shake It'

- Robbie Robertson 'Java Blues'


As a Band fan, I can cleared remember buying the album when it came out (senior in high school), and being less than overwhelmed by the collection.  There wasn't anything wrong with the ten tracks and Danko's unique voice remained instantly recognizable.  That said, it was a bit like buying a Ringo Starr solo album. After a couple of tunes you wondered where the rest of the band was ...  On his own Danko sounded slightly lost; coming off as if he were trying to get his musical bearings.   The result was a surprisingly diverse collection which included expected forays into Americana, as well as some unexpectedly commercial numbers  - 'Tired of Waiting' and 'Small Town Talk' but ultimately lacked that special "umph" needed to make it a major success.


"Rick Danko" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) What a Town   (Rick Danko - Bobby Charles) - 3:24   rating: *** stars

'What a Town' opened the album with a breezy, semi-commercial rocker.  Always loved the funny life's-tough-as-a-rock-star lyrics.  Ronnie Wood gusted on lead guitar.   For anyone interested in seeing a live version of the song, You Tube has a 1978 Philadelphia's WHY Soundstage performance of the tune at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfxEmeFYiFA   

2.) Brainwash   (Rick Danko - Emmett Grogan) - 2:39   rating: **** stars

Co-written with Diggers member Emmett Grogan, maybe because Danko used his "strained" voice on this one, 'Brainwash' sounded a lot like a Band tune.  The thing is, I wasn't a major fan of that strained voice.  To my ears it always sounded like Danko had slammed his thumb in a door jam and was trying to not cry.  Nice guitar sol from Michael DeTemple.   You Tube has a Soundstage performance of the tune at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZt50jQ_g7o    

3.) New Mexicoe   (Rick Danko - Bobby Charles) - 4:00   rating: **** stars

Danko decides he wants to be a member of the Sir Douglas Quintet ?    Pretty Timex flavored ballad with support from Eric Clapton and former Band alumni Garth Hudson.   

4.) Tired of Waiting   (Rick Danko - Jim Atkinson) - 2:16   rating: **** stars

With a sweet melody and a catchy chorus, 'Tired of Waiting' was probably the album's most overtly commercial tune.   Doug Sahm on lead guitar.   Here's another Soundstage performance with Michael DeTemple handling the lead guitar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81VkZu184es   

5.) Sip the Wine   (Rick Danko) - 4:45   rating: **** stars

Another tune that reflected some Band-styled Americana ...  which is probably why I like it so much.    Michael DeTemple and Doug Sahm on lead guitars.  Another live clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q53twA7I02Q     


(side 2)
1.) Java Blues
   (Rick Danko - Emmett Grogan)- 3:21   rating: **** stars

Nice Little Feat-styled boogie tune with some hysterical lyrics (and I don't even drink coffee). Robbie Robertson was featured on lead guitar.  Another Soundstage clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvnxoQcf_SM  

2.) Sweet Romance   (Rick Danko - Emmett Grogan) - 3:20   rating: *** stars

Showcasing Danko's instantly recognizable voice, 'Sweet Romance' was the album's prettiest tune.   The live Soundstage found Danko singing the tune in a much deeper register: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib0qzGA34LU   

3.) Small Town Talk   (Rick Danko - Bobby Charles) - 2:57   rating: *** stars

Another stab at commerciality.  Nice enough tune, though the horns didn't do a great deal for me.   Danko handled the lead guitar on this one.  

4.) Shake It    (Rick Danko) - 3:01   rating: *** stars

Easy going ballad with Richard Manual on keyboards.   Nice chorus.    

5.) Once Upon a Time   (Rick Danko - Emmett Grogan) - 2:37   rating: **** stars

Always loved the giddy chorus and Danko's lead guitar on this one.  The late Levon Helm on harmony vocals.


As mentioned, the album spun off a pair of singles in the form of:


- 1978's 'What a Town' b/w 'Shake It' (Arista catalog number AS -0306)

- 1978's 'Java Blues' b/w 'Shake It' (Arista catalog number AS-0320)


Danko toured in support of the album, but poor timing (it was released at the same time The Band's mega-set "The Last Waltz" came out),  resulted in poor sales and Arista ultimately decided to sit on Danko's already completed follow-up set (it saw a 2005 posthumous release as "Cryin' Heart Blues".