Retro Man Reviews


Retro Man - Extras

The Ozarks Mountaineer
The introductory track of Retro Man gives an early indicator of the degree of Brewer’s repentance for his role as participant and encourager of the counter culture, which is to say, zero: it’s an acetate recording of Brewer as a four-year-old singing “God Bless America.” We’ll take that as a bit of irony, albeit delivered with precociously dead-on intonation. Then the album dives right into no less than a political rant for the first three cuts, a catharsis of indignation and frustration from a

cultural warrior caught in George W. Bush’s America. It’s refreshing, should you carry any nostalgia for the revolution that was the sixties, to hear at least one of its foot soldiers undeterred by the intervening decades. There may now be a Gap store at the corner of Haight-Ashbury, but you wouldn’t guess it from a listen to this CD. Although Brewer admits to looking over his shoulder in songs like “Retro Man,” by no means is he stuck in the past. The epic “Freedom Avenue,” in fact, brings us up to date with a decade-by-decade play-by-play of cultural change. Brewer somehow has been able to maintain the combination of determination, outrage and idealism that fueled some of the best music of the 20th century. Musically, the album is no stretch in form for this folk-rocker; it’s driven mostly by acoustic guitar, backed with drums, bass and the occasional electric guitar, with tasty bits of mandolin, accordion and fiddle to fill out the soundscape, all played by Brewer or engineer and former Ozark Mountain Daredevil Gary Smith. Not all of the material on Retro Man is political. “Must Be an Ocean” is a wistful meditation on a lifetime of past sorrows. “Burn One for Me” asks for a slice of immortality and remembrance with a wink and a smile. But if you’re looking for some music to help you escape from the culture wars, this is not the album for you. If you are up for facing issues head-on, as Brewer makes them impossible to ignore, give Retro Man a spin. Hopefully you will emerge with the same undimmed optimism heard in “I’m Still Looking”—“I’m still looking/ Eyes wide open/ I’m still wishing/ I’m still hoping.” With Retro Man, Brewer shows us how to look back and still move forward.
~ Mark Bilyeu

  Dirty Linen
"Taking a side trip on his own, Michael Brewer, half of the duo Brewer and Shipley, may be old, but he sure ain't mellow. Check out the opener, "Rolling With The Punches", in which he rails against government surveillance and suppression, the PATRIOT act and "the Bill of Rights going up in flames". "Freedom Avenue" and "Blood In The Water" reassess recent history with an eye to the future. All the angst is leavened with the wit of the "Retro Man", who still uses cassettes. The tale of hippie brotherhood in "Burn One For Me" is embellished with some "Tarkio Road" style pedal steel, even though it's not Jerry Garcia this time. Brewer's voice still sounds like honey".
  New Era Productions
"This welcome release by Michael Brewer is sure to entertain the listener in a way that much of the music being published today cannot offer. "Retro Man" deserves honorable mention, airplay, and recognition of the track record of one of the American music scene's veteran artists."
~ Benny Smith
  Shake! Magazine
"Michael Brewer delivers some biting commentary in music about the way things are going in the good ol' US of A. "Retro Man" is almost a concept album in that so many of the lyrical themes display his point of view on social and political issues. Fans of those great Brewer & Shipley albums will hear similarities to that classic sound in this album, though the direction Michael takes is musically a bit more subdued. "Rolling With The Punches", "Freedom Avenue", and "Blood In The Water" involve social issues, but Michael smoothes out the blows with enough wit to keep the album enjoyable. The hippie tune "Burn One For Me" brings to mind the B&S classic "One Toke Over The Line". This short term departure is only his second solo album. Brewer & Shipley still carry on."
~ Jess Marich
  Discoveries Magazine
"Michael Brewer addresses some of his concerns on "Retro Man", his second solo album and the most political statement either partner (Brewer & Shipley) has ever made. "Retro Man" is a collection of love and hate, joy and frustration, hope and despair. "Freedom Avenue" is an epic history of America's protest movement and the villains in power that continue to plague us. "Hearts Of The Children" is a prayer to the spirits of the Native people who lived in harmony with nature before the coming of the white man. "Rolling With The Punches" describes the post- Sept.11 world we live in with a mixture of ironic humor and harsh reality."
~ J. Poet
  Springfield News Leader
"Much of Michael Brewer's new material on "Retro Man" is descended directly from the vigorous protest songs of his past. One of the best songs is "Freedom Avenue" which, unlike many of the left-leaning songs written by artists in recent years, isn't angry, indignant or didactic. Using stark imagery from the 1960's, 70's, 80's, 90's and today in each verse, it paints a portrait of the world as Brewer sees it. Ultimately, it's not a world he's too high on right now, but the focus in "Freedom Avenue" is the problems begging for resolve, not fingers pointing blame. "Rolling With The Punches" isn't so subtle. One of the hardest-rocking songs in the set, it questions giving up freedoms in the name of security. The album isn't just about protest and politics. He has included spiritual aspects of his personality on songs inspired by trips to Mesa Verde in Colorado ("Hearts Of The Children") and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico ("The Island Of Women"). The title track, "Retro Man", is about an old fashioned guy lost in the shuffle of a high tech world. With the suffering music industry so focused on cream puffs and pimps, artists and labels would do well to continue to foster music with some meat on the bone. Our country would be better off for it."
~ Michael Brothers


  Retro Man Jukebox


Retro Man