Robbie Robertson Releases “Testimony”
Original story by Aaron J. Sams (2016-11-06)
Robbie Robertson is a solo musician, writer, member of The Band, and a member of the Order of Canada. And this month he is releasing his autobiography titled Testimony. The book is due for release on November 15 by Crown Archetype. And as a soundtrack to the novel, Universal Music on November 11 will release Testimony, an anthology of Robertson’s work spanning his career. If the title sounds familiar to you, it’s because “Testimony” is a song from Robertson’s 1987 album Robbie Robertson. For that album, Robertson recorded two songs with U2, “Sweet Fire of Love” and “Testimony.”
And “Testimony” is featured on this new release. It is the featured track on the anthology, and the press materials for the album describe this as “the release debut for a new mix of Robertson’s “Testimony,” featuring Gil Evans and his horn section, U2, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Daniel Lanois, and Ivan Neville.” In the press release the song is refered to as “Testimony (Unity Mix)”.
The tracks were recorded with U2 in August 1986, when Robbie Robertson arrived in Dublin in the wake of Hurricane Charlie. Robertson joined U2 in the Danesmoate studio where U2 were working on The Joshua Tree. Robertson remembering the sessions spoke about the recording, “There were cars floating down the streets, it was really frightening. Thank God these guys (U2) were up for some spontaneous combustion! “Testimony” started from a brass riff originally composed for the soundtrack of “The Color of Money”. I had one little clue, inspired by a song I heard by Mahalia Jackson when I was a kid, called ‘Didn’t It Rain, Children.’ I put it on a tape with Daniel Lanois – just a tom-tom and a guitar playing this groove, and it had something.I had a few scraps of paper with stuff written on them and when I got there, their enthusiasm was just so fantastic. They were so great at rising to the occasion. Saying ‘let’s jump all over it’ and ‘let’s hit it every way until we get it’.”
Both “Testimony” and “Sweet Fire of Love” featured on the album Robbie Robertson. “Testimony” was also remixed once before and featured on select releases of the single “Fallen Angel“. An edit of this remix would also feature on the reissued version of Robbie Robertson / Storyville released in 2006. That package revealed that it was Nile Rodgers who had remixed the song. It is not known how different from this mix the new “Unity Mix” will be.
A short video film was made for the the song in 1987 and we’ve embedded that below. This was the original mix of the song overlaid with dialogue and other sounds:
The album cover for this new anthology due on Friday is shown below: