March 23, 1998 12:00 PM

Robbie Robertson

As a leader of the Band in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Robbie Robertson epitomized an era’s restless, wandering soul. But his deep cultural roots (he is of Mohawk descent) ground the solo artist’s music. Which is not to say that his latest CD is pure history lesson. On Contact’s finest tracks, “The Sound Is Fading” and “Making a Noise,” he melds traditional Native American chants with searing guitar solos, up-to-the-second dance beats (courtesy of mixmasters Howie B and Marius de Vries) and haunting melodies. Still, it’s hard to mistake a catchy song like “Sacrifice”—which features the fiery rhetoric of imprisoned American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier—for standard radio fodder. Blessed with a keen pop sensibility and a sexy whisper of a voice, Robertson energizes his heartfelt songs by capitalizing on both. (Capitol)

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