Il Blues Magazine
Robert Lighthouse - Drive Thru Love
This guy's got balls, I said to myself. And to be in the company of sacred monsters like Dr. Ross, Jimi Hendrix, Elmore James, Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson, on his first CD, he's got to have big ones. But, not satisfied with the collective tribute to the fathers of the blues, he spits out six hot pieces from the oven of his creative spirit. And I'll be damned, such "Blues" bread, I haven't eaten in a long time! And then when I read that 11 out of 12 songs were recorded live, I almost fainted. It seems impossible; its like he must have been preparing for years to record this CD. His guitar is powerful and hypnotic, and in the background, we hear unidentified people from City Blues, the harmonica, and every now and then a shout of anger in the microphone, which then melts into soft reassuring words of love. Enchanting romantic sounds from his guitar, together with such a clear, pure voice make up "She's The One I Love". This in contrast with the lively "Shake For Me" where the guitar and harmonica combine with unmentionable and obscene proposals to a big fat mama. Frankly, I have to say that a piece from Dr. Ross has always been missing in the past ... ...from the 'poor blues man faraway from home'. After hearing "Going To The River" and "Going Back South" I'm left breathless listening to the original "Drive-Through Love" - whether because of the narration which fills the clean breaks of the music, or because of the bloody harmonica that
accompanies the guitar, and cuts like an old-fashioned razor from the old barber shops.
The last four pieces are electrifying - only one done in the recording studio. Robert is accompanied by unknown musicians, all extremely high quality - particularly the three drummers: essential, precise and pumped just to the right level. In "Crossroads" you probably would expect to hear the typical sound slide, but instead you hardly hear it at all.
And it is followed by a torrid "Machine", sweating even through the speakers of my sound system, with so much change in tempo and a double finale. I won't talk about the disappointing "Riding Into the Sun", because I just can't keep all the emotion inside me after listening to "Voodoo Child". You hear people murmuring in the background, talking about their work and lives, and the man, who shares Johnson?s name extracts something from his soul. Something that doesn't appear to belong just to him. It's not the' spirit of the left-hander from Seattle that dances in front of our eyes and on the lips of Lighthouse - in those notes we hear all the blacks who have lived with the blues in their blood, those that have played it, those that have sung it, and 'those that no one will remember.
They are all here - in a song that lasts just a little over seven minutes. So brief that we can't just think about one human being without overlooking something, so long that we talk about everyone, so "blues" that we don't even lament the electric guitar, so strange when we remember that Robert is of European roots, having been born in Sweden. And so unique that we would like to be there as this man revives a profound part of the human soul.
HOHNER HARMONICA CO. EASY REEDING Spring 1998
Robert Lighthouse is an incredible new guy in the blues arena. He's from Sweden, but sounds like he's from Mississippi as he plays Delta blues like the great masters. In his first CD, Drive-Thru Love, Lighthouse's vocals, guitar and harmonica playing even stops Barbara, Hohner's mail room delivery person at the water fountain with a "Whose that guy? He's great." Now that's appeal! The title cut, written by Lighthouse, is one of the best cuts on the CD and like the CD's other four songs written by Lighthouse, it doesn't for a minute lose the Delta blues feeling and sound found on the rest of the cuts written by Ross, Hendrix, James, Dixon and Johnson. Lighthouse is performing throughout the Washington, D.C. area and all but one of the cuts on Drive-Thru Love were recorded live at City Blues and Fat Tuesdays in D.C. In media reviews. Lighthouse is being compared with Dr. Ross. If this guy keeps going and becomes media savvy, there's no stopping him.
Blues & Rhythm the Gospel Truth March 1998
In my review of The Blues You Would Just Hate To Lose - Volume One (ROROOI), I enthused about Robert Lighthouse, whose 'animated vocals, wild country harp and rhythmic guitar playing? reminded me so much of the great Dr Ross. I also said that Wayne Kahn, of Right On Rhythm, was preparing to release a solo CD by Lighthouse. Well, here it is, and 'Drive-Thru Love? confirms that Lighthouse is a supremely talented blues man whose mercurial talents could and should bring both himself and Right On Rhythm to the attention of a wider blues audience.
As with the previous two releases on this label, the majority of the tracks were recorded live (at City Blues and Fat Tuesdays in Washington DC), only one track, 'Riding Into The Sun?, being a studio cut. Once again the specter of Dr Ross pervades this set as Lighthouse reprises ?Going Back South? from the aforementioned ?The Blues.....Volume One? this time giving it a more insistent boogie beat laced with blasts of raw country harp. The Dr?s ?Going To The River? features some great picking and evocative slide, underpinned by an hypnotic bass line, and even Willie Dixon?s ?Shake For Me? gets the Dr treatment with Lighthouse?s percussive harp framing his relaxed but insistent vocals. Elmore James? Talk To Me Baby? is turned into a slow-rocking country blues, laced with the sweetest slide, the perennial ?Crossroads? is taken deep into the gutter, the archaic feel accentuated by Nick Rugieri?s almost primitive drumming, and Hendrix?s ?Voodoo Child? becomes a haunting, almost erotic, country blues replete with spine chilling slide.
The slow grind of 'Drive Thru Love?, with its wailing harp and elemental guitar, evokes memories of both vintage Hooker and Tommy McClennan, only the lyrics belonging in the nineties, while the brooding 'Machine?, with its rudimentary drumming and deep rolling piano, is a raw primordial blues that at times had me thinking that this was how Jimi Hendrix and/ or The Kinks (circa 'You Really Got Me?) would have sounded had they been born thirty years earlier.
Robert Lighthouse is a real talent, both as a performer and songwriter, and his music will have instant appeal to all lovers of acoustic and down-home blues.
Blues Scene Quarterly Winter 2000
Roots. This cat has 'em and they're located in...Sweden! The fact that this nearly-a-one-man-band guitar/harmonica player was not even born on this continent makes one wonder exactly how far the blues spirit will fly to find an acceptable host. Through the twelve soulful tracks on this disc, Lighthouse shows repeatedly that you don't need to be American, black, disenfranchised or whatever to grind out real, stirring blue matter. His deep voice, shuffling guitar style (an amplified acoustic) and chippy harp playing just plain work. This kind of back porch, low-rent singularity was the norm at one time and can probably still be found down some rain damaged dirt line in rural Mississippi. Right On Rhythm Records should be praised for getting this player some recognition. Half the songs are self penned gems and the covers, of artists as disparate as Jimi Hendrix (Voodoo Child), Isaiah Ross and Robert Johnson, give you some of idea of the range he wanders. Late night drinking music for the somber set.
DC Blues Society January 1998
Robert Lighthouse has developed into an intriguing interpreter of down-home blues, notable for
his one-man band interpretations as well as with his electric trio. The Swedish native is a rhythmically dynamic player and a better than average vocalist who avoids the excesses of many other blue-eyed blues interpreters. Robert's debut album, Drive-Thru Love (Right on Rhythm) consists mostly of Robert live at City Blues. Robert's best performances capture the insistent, rhythmic approach characteristic of such Mississippi blues artists as John Lee Hooker and Tommy McLennan.
The title track displays this as it suggests the insistent rhythmic feel of Hooker's early recordings. Lighthouse's harp playing throughout shows the inspiration of the late one-man band. Dr. Ross, and a couple of Ross' songs are present. Whatever his influences, Robert puts his own stamp on the performances here. Hendrix's Voodoo Chile is recast as a Muddy.Waters styled country blues, while Lighthouse uses a mid-tempo country boogie accompaniment on Elmore James' Talk to My Baby, and eschews the Dust My Broom riffs usually heard on this song. Lighthouse's numbers with band accompaniment include.
The Machine, his protest about the alienating aspects of modern life, and Lost and Found, that finds him in a Hendrix-inspired blues-rock vein. While not an audiophile recording, the location recordings are acceptable and captures the flavor of Robert's engaging live performances quite successfully.