"Makes me feel like grabbing people on the street, shaking them by the lapels and shouting in their faces, "Listen to this man, you fools! This is what rock can still be!" Okay, so here's the problem: How ya gonna top this, Urban? Flat out faves, so far: "Waiting for Rome to Fall"- Most amusing vision of the apocalypse on record, with a really catchy tune. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - Best flat out rocker I've heard in a while, especially considering the lyric. Like hell it's confined to the military. Foolishness pervades all levels of society! "Compulsion" - Stunning. All those beautiful, unexpected guitar & drum riffs tied to a brilliant lyric line. Robert Urban's ROCK WIDOW is a terrific contribution to rock"
- BOB YOUNG, KCLA-FM, American Radio Network, Hollywood, CA
"Hi Robert, I received "Rock Widow" and have enjoyed listening to it. I'll be glad to play it in my program. Thanks for letting me know about your work". - Mark C. Deren, MARK FROM HOLLAND SHOW, Radio Heemskerk, Holland - 104.5 (cable) and 107.4 (ether).
"Rock Widow" by Robert Urban
Click HERE for full STONEWALL SOCIETY Review by LEN
"OK, let's see if I can do it." are the first words on Robert Urban's newest release, "Rock Widow". It is immediately known by the listener that Robert can do it and do it very well! "Bravo!" would be the first reaction to this classic rock creation, fused with warm jazz tones throughout. Urban takes us on a personal and somewhat introspective musical journey through his eyes and world. As a complete work, "Rock Widow" very much carries like the score to a rock opera. Each song is independent yet connected. Either connected in spirit or by theme, and or the compelling and unique style that is Robert Urban.
"Rock Widow" brings memories of days when a new album was reason for gathering and party. Rooted solidly in classic rock, the influences are there. The Who, Yes, Les Dudek, the Beatles, and several more. It is Robert Urban's artistic ability to take influence from each while making the finished work truly his own. The familiar feel of Robert's music adds to the overall enjoyment of "Rock Widow". The individuality is not lost nor hard to pinpoint. Great solos, trios, endings, and a myriad of special moments abound.
"Rock Widow" consists of twelve songs. Ranging in style and theme, with deep personal interpretations and social statements. Some, like "The Boys From Paradise" and "No Love In Sight" are veritable rock anthems. The phone fight in "No Love In Sight" by MEGHAN CARY and PETER FARRELL bring an unexpected reality to the song. The amazing musical and lyrical talents of the anti-war "Waiting For Rome To Fall" is just awe inspiring. Film director WOLFGANG BUSCH contributes a unique, poetic combination of German & English spoken word - "sprechstimme rap" - as Robert Urban calls it. YOLANDA contributes an over-the-top SATB gospel choir for the song's rousing finale. The techno bed for "Rome" was supplied by groove-meisters MARK VOLLENWEIDER & TOM O'NEILL. "Waiting For Rome To Fall" has quickly risen into the top five requested songs on the Rainbow World Radio Playlist as selected by Internet listeners. "Rock Widow" also includes three covers. Two by CHARLES IVES; "The Cage" and environmental protest song and "Serenity" both brought forth with the unique interpretation of Robert Urban talent and style.
All songs are strong, poignant, and brilliantly delivered. Make no mistake, "Rock Widow" is a verification that rock is alive and well. The title also makes a statement about Robert Urban's view of rock today. "Rock Widow" is a significant CD not just to the GLBT music community but to the rock community in general. Sure some of the songs are very "out" in their meaning, however the musical appeal is universal.
- LEN, StoneWall Radio, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
ROCK WIDOW REVIEW - 5/1/03 - "Stylistically, the music on “Rock Widow” is almost kaleidoscopically diverse – like that of Queen, as everything that is presented on this album is distinctly original and can’t be compared to anything. This is not Classic Progressive rock, yet this music is definitely progressive. What’s central however is that this album is both very bright and impressive.
It is impossible not to appreciate such high-quality music as is presented on “Rock Widow” by Robert Urban. This album just shines with tastefulness and mastery and, being both definitely progressive and accessible, should please a large audience. Recommended. - VITALY MENSHIKOV - PROGRESSOR Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages Review
ELEGIES REVIEW - 7/1/03 - "Above all, I must say that I am very much impressed with Elegies as much as I was with Yess 90125 when I heard it for the first time. In fact however, there is nothing in common between the music of Robert Urban and that of Yes; I use this comparison to give you an idea of an effect that this album has on me.
Even though its stylistically almost as diverse as Rock Widow, this is by all means a very coherent album, and Roberts great compositional, performance, and producer capabilities are here especially evident. He easily works with different styles, and the changes of a musical direction on the album occur gently and fluently.
The music on the first three tracks here: The Waiting Song, Im Only Happy, and Joey Sails Away represents a fusion of both of guitar and symphonic kinds of Art-Rock with a classic approach to instrumental Arrangements.
A brilliant, truly progressive hard rock song with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock is presented on Tragedy (4), and a confluence of both of these
genres is what The River (5) is about. Beginning with Serenade (6), which is a piece of Classical Music, the music becomes more complex and more keyboard-oriented with the amazingly inventive passages of piano and a string ensemble at the forefront of arrangements. Robert is a true multi-instrumentalist, and his solos on keyboards especially those on piano and organ are as virtuosi as those on guitar and bass.
All three of the following songs: My Love For You, Jaccuse, and Elegie (7, 8, & 9), the latter of which was performed in French, contain too few repetitions to be regarded as Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, though they are all highly original. Finally, the stylistics of another instrumental piece on the album: Louange (10) is in my view nothing else but Urbanistic Classical Music, though the coincidence with the name of creator of this album is just accidental.
Conclusion: Each of the songs presented on Elegies is the product of genuine inspiration. Like a pleasant greeting from the past millennium, this album is from the category of those memorable masterworks that make our life richer in positive emotions" - VITALY MENSHIKOV - PROGRESSOR Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages Review
"Your ROCK WIDOW cd - I like it - on listening, it's an interesting collection and we decided to add it" - Shawn Gordon, President, ProgRock Records www.progrockrecords.com
‘Rock Widow’ review by SCOTT FREE
(full review at:The Scott Free Website
ROBERT URBAN, a leader in today’s burgeoning New York music scene with his "Urban Productions BOLDLY Presents" rock shows & concerts, has released his fourth CD, entitled ‘Rock Widow’. He has, once again, created a masterful melodic epic, but this one is a more painful search for meaning amongst rock & roll’s ruins.
The opening track - ‘You Don’t Wanna Know’, a pure pop gem. This seductive song, in fact, could have been called ‘Rock Widow’, with its painfully honest lyrics about a gay rocker in the straight world of rock & roll. But ‘Rock Widow’ also refers to Robert’s view on the state of rock today. This CD is solidly grounded in the progressive rock of the 1970’s, complete with rolling r’s and keyboard arpeggios. It is a grandiose style, yes, and one that is rarely heard today, but its grounded lyrics and careful production make the CD touching, compelling, and human. And, although progressive rock and jazz are its starting points, Robert’s ability to write brilliant pop hooks makes this a timeless CD. Shining moments of brilliance are discovered in segues, bridges, and even song fade-outs. Each song is meticulously crafted, which shows a love and respect for the music. This is a masterpiece of intricacies, a bouquet of sonic compassion.
The highlight of the CD is the triumphant ‘Ode to Central Park’, a musical tribute to the anonymous sexual encounters in the core of Manhattan Island that have continued unending for centuries. This gem, soon to be a queer classic, is treated with utmost reverence, a musical homage to desire which crescendos to an emotional climax.
One of the most interesting additions to the CD was the inclusion of two songs written by Charles Ives, ‘The Cage’, and ‘Serenity’. Robert’s handling of these two completely unique songs shows the mastery of his art – his ability to bring out the right emotion through careful instrumentation and production.
This is also very much a gay rock album. From the sensuality of ‘Ode to Central Park’ to the political activism of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, this explores the wide spectrum that is queer music. It is a triumphantly out album – a coming out of rock’s closet.
This impeccably produced CD was done in Robert’s own Urban Productions recording studio, where queer musicians Yolanda, Marshal Zarne, and Rainbow Flava have recorded their music.
With radio’s obsession with boy bands and forced rap, you may have forgotten the joys of the power-rock anthem. When done correctly, as ‘Rock Widow’ is, it is thrilling. - SCOTT FREE, Leather/Western Records, Chicago, IL
We ran your "Waiting For Rome To Fall" (in its entirety) on this week's "This Way Out", (and thanks for making it available earlier this week online) -- what a wonderfully-produced and great-sounding track! "Waiting For Rome To Fall" was an excellent "companion feature" on the show this week, as our focus was anti-war and the U.S. military. Thanks," - GREG GORDON, Coordinating Producer, "This Way Out", Los Angeles, CA
Would very much appreciate a couple of copies of "Waiting for Rome to Fall" for use on my program. Nice work! I compare it favorably to some of Bowie's better later work ("Heroes", "Putting Out the Fire With Gasoline", etc.) I find it delightful that there seems to be a new wave of politically aware music hitting the airwaves and computers of the country. Yours is a terrific contribution. Peace". BOB YOUNG, "Uncle Bob's Electronic Digital Playland", KCLA-FM, American Radio Network (currently heard on 118 stations around the country)
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been listening to your cd constantly - damn Robert YOU ROCK! It's so good and full of feeling... the night you gave it to me I started crying just reading the lyrics...I love it. YOLANDA
"Robert - Rock Widow plays not so much like a collection of songs... but more like an epic!. You take all these different song-styles and use them like orchestration... like elements in some monstrous symphonic work. Your guitar playing smokes all over the record...you riff like the rock gods, playing solos like Eddie-Van-Halen-meets-Steve-Howe, but all with your very own harmonic sense..." - PETER FARRELL - KFM
"Hey there Robert! You are one of the most versatile and talented people I have ever had the blessing to meet. I listened to Elegies about 2 months ago for the first time (yeah it took me that long - it's amazing I didn't lose it) and I sat in stunned amazement with drool dripping down my chin as you took me on a wonderful personal journey. I was like "I can't believe this is the same unassuming nice folkie I met in Hartford!" Good for YOU my brother, cause you kick muthahumpin ass on that recording. I look forward to sharing the stage with you in the near future and thank you for your gentle nature and fabulous creativity. Much Love and Peace for 2003" VANGE - SISTER FUNK
WAITING FOR ROME TO FALL - "Sounds like Ziggy Stardust goes AWOL and takes refuge at Eno's house! You've got a great sound on this one, nice guitar work" - RICK RAY, Neurosis Records, Cleveland, OH.
Thanks for sending your CD "Elegies". I have played the two songs "The Waiting Song", and "Tragedy". I will now add your songs to my regular rotation.
It would be great to play your new music on my show and I hope you send your new CD ROCK WIDOW. I am always really thrilled and happy to find gay rock artists that rock! - p.s. Congratulations on your live gay rockshow productions! SEAN THE MULLET PRINCE, Hear in the New Frontier! KUCI 88.9 FM, Orange County, CA
"Robert Urban’s new release, Rock Widow, is a powerful and innovative collection. Weaving in and out of the traditional sounds of rock, it allows for Urban’s intricate mastery of the song as an art form to create an exciting and provocative juice. Full of high-energy performances by Urban himself, and a collection of other first-rate musicians, I listen to the program thankful that rock ‘n roll is far from dead in Urban’s able hands. You wanna rock when you hear this. And yet, with meaningful tracks like “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” be prepared to go on some well-crafted, less-than-chipper journeys as well. Robert is a musician’s musician who makes music for those willing to think." - JEREMY BLUE, DreamBorn Productions, Pawling NY
When we got back into CT today I immediately took a copy of "Waiting for Rome to Fall" from ROCK WIDOW over to my partner & made him sit down and listen to it, He too, was really impressed and loves the work you've done. (You gotta tell Yolanda how very much she kicked ass in her performance, and to thank Wolfgang for his willingness to contribute his unique vocal stylings too!) It gets better with each listening! - Tom O'Neill - co-writer & musician
"Congratulations on the new single - "Waiting for Rome to Fall"! A great track, and very timely. I really love to hear artists using their talent to say something meaningful. Thanks for that. I've been playing your ROCK WIDOW CD like crazy!". - *V*I*R*G*O*
"WKJCE GLBT RADIO Has its copy of Rock Widow and we love it, We have been playing some tracks off it like "Dont ask Dont tell" ,"Deserted cities of the heart" and of course many more like "Waiting for Rome to Fall". Thank you Robert Urban for making songs us GLBT activists can get into as well as many of our other listners :) Rock Widow Rocks!! Need I say more? :) It's a privilege to be playing your music on my show" - JOANNE LYNN, host, WKJCE Radio, Pennsylvania
WAITING FOR ROME TO FALL
- "Hey Man, GREAT TUNE!" - JON P. YARGER, Host, NYC
"Intelligently written songs, brilliantly performed with wit, warmth, charm and taste. In all honesty, these two albums (ELEGIES and "godless") are among the only reasons that I wish I was still writing reviews.
There is a rare thing among rock guitarists; a very, very few can concoct lead riffs that are actually a counterpoint, and a continuation of the main lyric line. The listener can actually feel the thoughts continuing, as though the person and not the instrument were playing. As an ex-drummer and percusionist, I'd love to play behind someone who plays bass as tastefully as you do. The trio you created with J'Accuse-Elegie-Louange is absolutely brilliant, ditto the duet with The River and Serenade. "godless" is already one of my favorite albums.
Thank you for allowing me inside your skull for a bit. It's a fascinating place. I eagerly await anything you do in future, and I don't feel that way very often. (Waiting for Rome... got it's first big LA play on a program called "The Music Never Stopped", last Fri eve (02-28) at 8pm on KPFK, 90.7 FM.) Average audience, 125K to 200K. Nice work, Robert. - Bob Young, Host, KCLA FM Radio
RECOMMENDED RELEASES OF 2003 - ROBERT URBAN - ROCK WIDOW
If you haven't heard Robert's music before the 5 minute opener 'You Don't Wanna Know' is as good a place as any to start. The supplicatory vocal, the subtle acoustic guitar and percussion, a cathartic, challenging ballad sensitively and beautifully played and arranged.
'Compulsion' asks some big questions (Don't listen if you're not into thought provoking lyrics but then again- why would you not be?) and is a rockier number with some nimble drumming from Anthony DeMarco and flowing electric guitar licks from Robert.
An excellent sax player Peter Farrell is introduced on 'My Silent Friend' (which he also wrote) and also plays on the catchy 'Burning Heart' but mostly this is the work of an extraordinarily talented and passionate New York multi-instrumentalist and composer. This passion is encapsulated perfectly on 'No Love in Sight' where Robert manages to deliver his serious message with a touch of sardonic humour- Farrell's honky-tonk piano and the cell phone fight are ingenuous touches. The masterpiece of the album for me though is 'Ode to Central Park' on which Robert does everything- guitars, organ, synths you name it- a very intense and personal statement- the lyrics are once again brilliant and the 'orchestral' arrangement is most apposite.
'Waiting for Rome to Fall' begins with a piece of Sprechstimme by Wolfgang Busch (who does a little 'eins, zwei, drei, veir' and appears periodically throughout the piece as well!) and this is the nearest Robert comes to a full band with two backing musicians (who also co-compose) and a 'gospel choir vocalist' to create a quite 'funky' soul-like ambience that includes a memorable one-liner 'Revolutions come and go, but diamonds are forever'- quite!
I hadn't realised just how similar Robert's voice is to Jack Bruce's and hearing a splendid 'unplugged' version of one of my favourite Bruce-Brown compositions 'Deserted Cities of the Heart' led to make other connections between the vocal styles of Bruce and Urban.
Intriguingly there are interpretations of two Charles Ives numbers on this album the first of which is the all too short 'The Cage' with some half spoken half sung lyrics in the finest jazz 'skat' tradition- think Hatfield and the North for a nearest 'rock' equivalent- seriously! I did a little research on Ives and crave your indulgence for a moment. Ives was one of a line of composers ranging from Louis Gottschalk and Stephen Foster to Aaron Copland that put American classical music on the worldwide map. The larger than life Ives (1874-1954) was also one of the most enigmatic. Harold Schonberg in 'The Lives of the Great Composers' (A must read!) expresses the opinion that 'So advanced was his (Ives') idiom, so convulsively dissonant and complicated, so full of unusual textures and devices, that hardly anybody could grasp its significance'. So well done to Robert for even attempting this! Anyway, the second Ives 'tune' is 'Serenity', a haunting psalm.
The penultimate track 'The Boys from Paradise' is another of my favourite Urban compositions so far. It tells the unsettling tale of Bobby who is 'locked inside his music box'. The amazing thing about this track is that it has such a full sound and yet it is only Robert playing!'Rock Widow' is a triumph of composition, arrangement and playing that should put Robert Urban on the map as one of the foremost singer/ songwriters in the U.S. and beyond. Highly recommended.- Phil Jackson - Madasafish Records for ZEITGEIST WEBZINE
There's something about queer artist Robert Urban's album that sticks out, and positively. It's not the smooth lyrics, nor is it the mellow, even tones. There's just something to it that makes you want to listen to it - and keep listening over and over. More an art CD than a piece of rock music, the collection is both powerful and compelling, grounded in its complexity, mired in brilliance. Indeed, a wonderful addition to your collection" - Ranjit Jose, Gay City News, NYC, 6/6/03.
ROCK WIDOW - "This CD is was considerably better than the first. All of Mr. Urban’s songs were quite different and I thought some were very good. I, especially, liked "You Don’t Wanna Know", the first song on the CD. He quotes poetry before some of his songs, a la Jim Morrison, which I thought was kind of cool. I think in Mr. Urban's case, I will live long enough for his music to grow on me." - JOE MACK, METRO G MAGAZINE, SAN DIEGO, CA
"Born to rock in the grand progressive tradition of Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, Robert is a multi-talented instrumentalist, composer, lyricist and a truly dynamic producer. His 2003 CD Rock Widow celebrates past associations in rock bands and holds nothing back in force or finesse a resounding treat for your head, heart and ears. Personal, political and approachable songs in an earnest, confident style that is his own. "
"Soon after Rock Widow arrived I listened all the way through on headphones as I went to bed one night and I was very impressed by the production especially. We closed our show last night with Serenity from the album.
We'll play the "Robert Urban Special" in 4 parts over two shows (9th July and 16th July from 9-11pm, 4ZZZ fm102.1 Brisbane.) I think it's gone really very well and expect good feedback for the interview/chat as much as for your fine music. " - John Frame, Queer Radio Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4ZZZ FM102.1
Robert - got a chance to listen to "Dont Ask, Don't Tell" - real cool tune. Has some great "textures" in it - along with a great lyric. Congratulations on your nomination-its well deserved! - Chris - OUTLAND
Rock Widow - "In the category of "self-made," youll find openly gay New York City songwriter Robert Urban. He wrote nearly all of the songs on this record and performed nine different instruments in the production. It was all recorded in his own studio to boot. Urban writes contemporary pop songs that borrow somewhat from rock songs of the late 70s, when the volume had been turned down but the guitars kept rattling. He even steps out for a cover of Creams "Deserted Cities of the Heart," in reverence to the disruption currently ongoing in the Middle East. The songs border on New Age, but he appears to be keeping a finger on the pulse of GLBT culture, so watch out for more from this guy. From Urban Productions (www.roberturban.com)". Lance Walker, OUTSMART MAGAZINE, Houston, TX, July 2003 issue
ROCK WIDOW - "Here's to unexpected pleasures. This 4th disc from self-described queer rocker Robert Urban is a varied and top-notch artistic statement that blends rock gusto with a pop sensibility. Urban, who's practically a one-man band with the 8 or so instruments he's credited with playing, possesses a smart, experimental personna and a radio-ready tenor reminiscent of Gino Vannelli. The disc occassionally does get too pretentious (two Charles Ives tunes, no less), but Urban's far-ranging talent - and the polish and dare of the record more than compensate.
Standout elements abound, like the rich melody of "You Don't Wanna Know" and the pop bounce of "The Burning Heart". "No Love in Sight" - which explores loveless hetero-relationships, features ferociously-good guitar/keyboard interplay, while the cd's first single - "Waiting for Rome to Fall" endears with a whirly-gig organ and a soul-flavored gospel outro. Gay themes are handled adroitly on the rock anthem "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". - JOEY DiGUGLIELMO, music columnist, OUTPUB, PITTSBURGH, OH, July issue
by Joanne Lynne Benjamin
When I was asked by Erie Gay News, if I would like to do the CD reviews of GLBT artists, I was surprised and excited all at the same time, than it hit me which artist should I do first. As I looked through the GLBT music library, two artists came to mind .
Performer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Robert Urban was born and raised in Fairfield County, CT. He currently resides and performs in New York. Robert Urban began performing in rock bands, stage plays & musical theater as a young adolescent... and never stopped. He has worked with many other musical live acts including Jamie Anderson, Scott Free, Jon Gilbert Leavitt, Indigo Etheridge, Yolanda, and many more.
His latest CD Rock Widow was nominated pride cd/album of 2003 and the track "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was voted pride song of the year by The Stonewall Society.
Don't be fooled however; Robert Urban isn't afraid to call a spade a spade with his activist songs like the anti-war track "Waiting For Rome to Fall." Robert Urban's Rock Widow has tracks from jazz tones to classic rock riffs and more, which any rocker could love. In other words Rock Widow rocks!!! - JOANNE LYNN - WKJCE RADIO
MOVIMENTI PROG - PROGRESSIVE ROCK MAGAZINE – ITALY - Recensito da Luca Abete
Opera prima del polistrumentista americano Robert Urban, questo Elegies, risalente ormai a quasi cinque anni fa, è un ottimo esempio di come si possa fare musica di qualità senza dover per forza rispettare quei canoni ristretti che troppo spesso tentano di rinchiudere la musica dentro sterili etichette limitando la creatività dei musicisti.
Complice il fatto di aver composto, suonato, arrangiato e prodotto tutto all’interno di questo album, il prodotto finale risulta estremamente fresco, originale e godibile. L’opener The Waiting Room potrebbe essere uscita da Falling Into Infinity dei Dream Theater, I’m Only Happy (When I’m Free) si muove su coordinate più melodiche ed ariose e già si capisce che Robert Urban è in grado di desrteggiarsi egregiamente tra i registri sonori più disparati, passando con maestria da inserti di genuino rock ad altri più blueseggianti, altri ancora fusion, altri di marca neoclassiaca, senza dimenticare il prog vagamente pinkfolydiano che risulta forse l’elemento più caratterizzante di queste dieci composizioni.
Anche il talento di Urban come musicista è fuori discussione e forse lo strumento dove si fa valere maggiormente è la chitarra, con quello stile leggiero e sognante che in più di un momento ricorda quello di Steve Wilson dei Porcupine Tree (basta ascoltare My Love For You o la fluttuante The River). Isomma un album completo, dove persino quel pizzico di inesperienza impossibile da evitare in un debutto riesce a rendere affascinante e suggestivo il prodotto finale.Per ulteriori dettagli: http://www.roberturban.com
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