"Testimony" - Robertson, Robbie

Compilation Album

U2 Related Content:

Full Track Listing:

  • Testimony (Unity Mix) – Robbie Robertson
  • Bessie Smith – The Band
  • Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Live) – Bob Dylan & The Band
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live at the Academy of Music) – The Band
  • He Don’t Love You (And He’ll Break Your Heart) – Levon Helm and The Hawks
  • Somewhere Down the Crazy RIver – Robbie Robertson
  • Life is a Carnival (Live at the Academy of Music) – The Band
  • It Makes No Difference – The Band
  • The Weight (Live At the Academy of Music) – The Band
  • Out of the Blue – The Band
  • Honky Tonk – Levon Helm and the Hawks
  • Obviously Five Believers – Bob Dylan
  • Soap Box Preacher – Robbie Robertson
  • Twilight (Song Sketch) – The Band
  • Come Love – Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks
  • When The Night was Young – Robbie Robertson
  • The Shape I’m In (Live at the Academy of Music) – The Band
  • Unbound – Robbie Robertson

Background Information

This compilation of songs was released as a companion piece to Robertson’s autobiography also titled Testimony. The music included on this release spans Robertson’s entire career from his time in The Band, the Hawks, playing with Bob Dylan and his later solo career.

The song, “Testimony” which Robertson performs with U2, was originally released on his 1987 album Robbie Robertson. It was one of two songs that Robertson would include on that album featuring U2, with the other being “Sweet Fire of Love.” Both tracks were recorded in Dublin at Danesmoate studio where U2 were recording The Joshua Tree. The song appearing here is a previously unheard version that includes some unreleased vocals from the original recording sessions that can be heard near the end of the song (including vocals by Bono).

Robertson arrived in Dublin on August 26, 1986 and worked with U2 and Daniel Lanois over two days in the wake of Hurricane Charlie. In the liner notes to Testimony Robertson discusses the track:

After deciding to call my autobiography “Testimony” which was partially inspired by the title of a song I had written years ago, I went back to the original tapes out of curiosity. When I looked at the track sheet I saw: the incredible Gil Evans and his horn section, the guys from U2, Larry Mullen Jr.-drums, Adam Clayton-bass, The Edge-guitar, and Bono-backing vocals, producer Daniel Lanois-percussion, Ivan Neville-backing vocals, Nile Rodgers-wah wah guitar, Bernard Edwards-bass, Bill Dillon-sonic guitar, and myself on vocal, guitar and keyboard. I don’t know if I’d ever seen such an extraordinary array of music makers together on one track before.

This musical odyssey started when I was composing the music for Martin Scorsese’s movie The Color of Money and asked Gil Evans to do some orchestrations. He ended up doing a horn arrangement to a piece I had mistakenly left on a tape I’d sent him. Not long after, I was off to Dublin, Ireland to do some recording and experimenting with U2. Daniel Lanois was producing their album and mine as well. I decided to bring the ‘stray’ horn track with me. The boys were all enjoying Gil’s horn chart and we decided to play along with it and see what happened. That’s Gil counting it off. I began riffing some words Bono helped inspire. He said, “Sing about how you found music, or how music found you.”

After it was mixed for my record the track fell into the hands of Nile Rodgers. Nile and bassist Bernard Edwards funked it up. So now when I revisited the multi-track, this unbelievably unique collaboration knocked me over. Today, I’m able to continue all these different worlds into one unified composition, just the way it should be experienced. It’s one for the ages, one for the books.

The Nile Rodgers mix of “Testimony” to which Robertson refers has been released in a couple of different formats. A 12-Inch version of the song was released on select versions of the “Fallen Angel” single including the French 3-Inch CD and the UK 12-Inch vinyl release. An edit of this remix of “Testimony” (which is actually a few seconds longer—6:33 vs. 6:27—would appear on a remastered edition of Robertson’s early albums Robbie Robertson / Storyville (Expanded Edition). On some digital services, the Nile Rodgers remix is labeled the “Gospel Remix.”

The album was released simultaneously on several platforms including a release on audio CD, Amazon, iTunes and other digital store fronts. On iTunes the album included the “Mastered for iTunes” logo.

Liner Notes

Testimony (Unity Mix):
Written by R. Robertson. Produced by Daniel Lanois, Robbie Robertson. From the album Robbie Robertson. 2016 mix by Bob Clearmountain.

Related Promotional Videos

Related News

Catalog of Releases