Robin Trower's "Compendium" is a very satisfying summary of the great guitarist's later work, after his association with Chrysalis Records had ended. It includes tracks from the following albums: "Passion" (1987), "Take What You Need" (1988), "In the Line of Fire" (1990), "20th Century Blues" (1994), "Go My Way" (2000), "Living Out of Time" (2003), "Another Day's Blues" (2005), "Seven Moons" (2008), "What Lies Beneath" (2009), "The Playful Heart (2011), and "Roots and Branches (2013). Featured on vocals are Trower himself, Davey Pattison, Jack Bruce, Livingstone Brown, Richard Watts, and Hazel Fernandez.
Trower personally chose the thirty-five tracks contained in "Compendium", and didn't shirk from acknowledging some of the 80's material that he wasn't particularly proud of (Trower has been quoted as saying he wished he'd never recorded in the 1980's). The early efforts (three from "Passion", and one each from "Take What You Need" and "In the Line of Fire") are very listenable--it's just that it's a shock to hear Trower doing power ballads with a keyboard/synth behind him.
With "20th Century Blues", Trower abandoned this approach (which he called "making records by committee"), and soon founded the V-12 label with his manager Derek Sutton in order to make music more in line with his aims. "20th Century Blues" and "Go My Way" are both very strong albums ( the latter being named in the liner notes as Trower's favorite), and I personally would like to have seen more pulled from them (like "Precious Gift", "Into Dust", "Rise Up Like the Sun", and "Run With the Wolves"). That's a minor quibble, but it would have made this a five-star compilation instead of a four and one-half.
This still is pretty essential as a chart of Trower's remarkable resurrection (after the record companies had left him for dead), taking more risks, actually bettering his early collaborations with Jack Bruce, and revealing a creative maturity while still retaining his trademark fiery licks. This is Trower's case for his latter-day career, and it's vital stuff, especially for anybody who has taken a pass on his post-Dewar work. For anybody like that, this should be a mindblower. I am well aware that many Trower fans refuse to believe he could accomplish anything without James Dewar on board, but this collection proves that Trower is a creative musician who has been able to adapt his sound for over forty years!