Review by: Dominic Linde
Assigned by: Charly Saenz
Subdued but powerful, soft but rocking, basic but not simple, and thoughtful while being emotive and down-to-Earth. These are the descriptive phrases that kept running through my head while listening to Terry Reid’s the Other Side of the River. Originally released as just River, the album has been reissued several times—with dubious reasoning, as far as I know, other than it being a good album. I feel compelled to say that usually I’m not very into roots rock (I mean, it’s OK and occasionally thrilling), but there is a lot of heart in this record while maintaining an earthy and unassuming tone. The opening track “Let’s Go Down” sets the record up perfectly: slight interplay between the lead and rhythm guitars, a simple counter melody to accompany the admittedly lackluster vocals. But the vocals still carry a certain amount of expression and interesting timbre (maybe something like a cross of Rod Stewart and Ryan Adams, though Terry Reid was recording long before Adams ever did), saving the voice from being a downfall. And how about that electric violin? And the bassist who knows exactly when to get busy with the instrument and when to lay it back. Just one of those unexplainable songs where there’s nothing new or spectacular in particular. It just works together in a totally satisfying way.
And really, that’s how the album as a whole works: unspectacular but satisfying, not revelatory but gripping. You’ll come back for more. My only complaint is that it starts to wane toward the end. Track-by-track, the album is a collection of strong songs, but there is a certain amount of sameness that comes out not only in execution but in the style of the songs. Granted, this disc is not only comprised of the River album (in the first seven tracks) but also what I assume were outtakes or B-sides. And really, it is around where the bonus tracks start that the disc starts to lose its quality streak. Still, the bonus tracks are far from duds and are worth the listen. They’re just not as strong as what came previously. Recommended.