If you're a fan of blues rock guitar legends today must be some kind of red letter day or manna from heaven with box sets released by Ten Years After with Alvin Lee, The Groundhogs with Tony McPhee and last but by no means least this remastered reissue of Robin Trower's entire output between 1973 and 1976 on Chrysalis at an incredibly reasonable price (reflected sadly in the poor packaging that goes with it).
Robin Trower is now in his sixth decade but still going strong and has been recently recording with the great Jack Bruce. It was however the immediate period following his departure from Procol Harum in 1971 that Trower hit a purple patch and probably had his greatest commercial success with albums frequently camped in the top ten of the USA album charts. In the 1970s not to have his superb "Live" album recorded from a 1975 stadium show in Sweden would lead to all kind of insults and damnations from friends who regularly whispered Trower's name in the same sentence as Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck. If the truth be told Trower was never quite that revolutionary or experimental but a brilliant guitarist all the same and a true grandmaster.
What is particularly special about these recordings is that they fully confirm that Trower was certainly not a one man band and like the "Experience" the musicians who backed Trower prove that whole is the sum of the parts. His supporting musicians were world class. While much is made of the great blues voice of Paul Rodgers surely Scottish bassist, lyricist and vocalist, the late Jimmy Dewar was every bit his equal? On both the studio and live version of hugely emotive "I can't wait much longer" and the cover of B B King's "Rock me baby" he demonstrates a rich and affecting voice that has a deep soul quality to it and warm timbre. Indeed after years of singing with the wonderful Maggie Bell in Stone the Crows (check out Raining in my heart) he had learned his trade well and his voice perfectly compliments Trower's playing and allowed the latter free expression to unleash his talent particularly his trademark solos full of echo, tremolo effects and huge slabs of wah-wah drawn from howling Fender Stratocasters. The guitar work out at the end of "Too Rolled Stoned" is ample evidence of this and threatens your speakers with such raw power that a second hand sale at a Sunday afternoon car boot sale beckons. Along with Dewar the impeccable drumming of two stalwart musicians the late Reg Isadore and Bill Lordan who has also played with Sly and the Family Stone provides a powerful backdrop throughout all these albums.
As for the songs all the highlights include the blazing guitar frenzy of a "Little bit of sympathy", the stunning live version of the slow blues "Daydream" (Trower's "Little Wing"?), the concert staple "Bridge of Sighs" with its great Dewar vocal and the funky "Messin the blues" with Trower playing like a man processed and one of my personal favourites "Hannah" from "Twice removed from yesterday".
Some people may complain that true fans will already have these five albums and the extras such as outtakes like "Let Me Be the One" and b sides like the excellent "Take a fast train" are great for completists but not essential if this is your first point of contact with Robin Trower. The remastering is excellent however and to hear this mix of blues, rock and soul once again from one of the best guitarists of our generation is a thrill.
on 8 August 2010
Whilst I agree 100% with reviewer Red on Black regarding all aspects of the music contained in this set, and acknowledge that the music is the essential component!!
I must take issue with the presentation of this set:
1. The first 4 studio albums cover art was original, imaginative and to me a major part of the whole experience!! (Trower himself praises them) So why such a cheap looking presentation throughout this reissue??
2. Why split up the individual albums across separate CDs? when (as previous Trower re-issues have shown)all the music would still fit on 3 discs without this being necessary.
3. Some background history and interviews, would have enhanced the package.
-EMI take a look at recent reissues of Pete Brown, Quintessence etc on the Repertoire label for how to do this- Demonstrating real interest in and care for the music being re-released.
This is wonderful music that deserved more respect and care from the record label.
A missed opportunity
on 7 August 2010
I really do not need to go through this set of 5 albums on 3 cds as I would be preaching to the converted for 'already fans' and there is enough praise elsewhere for non-commited or new listeners to Trower.
It is enough to say that these are probably the 5 greatest albums of Hendrix-style rock playing to be found, all from the same band, and represent the best of Trower's career. I already had 4 of them but to have all 5 in a single package was too tempting an option so bought it.
3 cds requires a good case within which to keep them. Whoever commissioned the supplier of the case that my package was supplied in should be sacked. On the first opening it almost literally fell apart. Not one of the discs is held in place. The front cover fell away from the spine, its hinge pins non-existent and I seemed to spend quite a time discovering fragments of the clear plastic (which feels particularly flimsy) scattered in my car, which is where I first opened it. In truth it doesn't for a moment diminish the music, but it did make a buying experience less than pleasant.
Procol Harum's ace axeman ROBIN TROWER has been thrilling my turntables and CD players for decades now - and this fabulous 3-disc nugget from those old muckers at EMI only hammers home why - album after album of Rock, Blues and yes Funky quality. Here are the Fender Bender details...
UK released 26 July 2010 - "A Tale Untold: The Chrysalis Years 1973-1976" by ROBIN TROWER on EMI/Chrysalis 642 1542 (Barcode 50999652154226) is the mega label's first anthology for the guitar virtuoso and breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (63:06 minutes):
1. I Can't Wait Much Longer
4. Man Of The World
5. I Can't Stand It
6. Rock Me Baby
7. Twice Removed From Yesterday
8. Sinner's Song
Tracks 1 to 9 are his debut solo album "Twice Removed From Yesterday" released March 1973 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1039.
Track 10 is "Take A First Train" - the non-album B-side to "Man Of The World" issued March 1973 as his Debut Solo 7" single in the UK on Chrysalis CHS 2009.
11. Day Of The Eagle
12. Bridge Of Sighs
13. In This Place
14. The Fool And Me
Tracks 11 to 14 are Side 1 of the album "Bridge Of Sighs" released April 1974 on Chrysalis CHR 1057.
Disc 2 (78:39 minutes):
1. Too Rolling Stoned
2. About To Begin
3. Lady Love
4. Little Bit Of Sympathy
Tracks 1 to 4 are Side 2 of the LP "Bridge Of Sighs".
Track 5 is "Day Of The Eagle (7" Single Edit)"
6. Shame The Devil
7. It's Only Money
8. Confessin' Midnight
9. Fine Day
11. A Tale Untold
12. Gonna Be More Suspicious
13. For Earth Below
Tracks 6 to 13 are the album "For Earth Below" released February 1975 on Chrysalis CHR 1057.
14. Too Rolling Stoned
16. Rock Me Baby
Tracks 14 to 16 are Side 1 of the LP "Robin Trower Live!" - released March 1976 on Chrysalis CHR 1089.
Disc 3 (64:51 minutes):
1. Lady Love
2. I Can't Wait Much Longer
4. Little Bit Of Sympathy
Tracks 1 to 4 are Side 2 of the album "Robin Trower Live!"
5. Same Rain falls
6. Long Misty Days
7. Hole Me
12. I Can't Live Without You
13. Messin The Blues
Tracks 5 to 13 are the album "Long Misty Days" - released October 1976 on Chrysalis CHR 1107.
Track 14 is "Long Misty Days (Single Edit)" (1976 German 7" on Chrysalis 6155 073 - B-side of "Caledonia")
Track 15 is "Let Me Be The One" - Previously Unreleased.
To get 5 albums of primo Seventies guitar Rock, three rare 7" single edits and 1 genuinely excellent previously unreleased track for just over twelve quid is pretty amazing value for money (including a free MP3 rip to your PC or Mac).
The 8-page booklet pictures the albums and has a center two-page spread of live photos - but little else. It's miniscule and really disappointing. At least with 2012''s second Chrysalis Anthology "Farther On Up The Road" (1977 to 1983) - the booklet increased to 12-pages. But packaging niggles aside - the great remasters and the sheer value-for-money on offer here more than make up for it. In fact this entire EMI series (I've reviewed the Barclay James Harvest, Frankie Miller and Ten Years After 3CD sets) is exemplary.
But the big deal here is the 2010 PETER MEW REMASTER (done at Abbey Road). I've raved about this guy's touch at the tape before - even set a tag of his remastered issues for those interested in quality sound (there's hundreds) - and this double jewel-case set is no different. The sound is truly fantastic - full and clear without being over-hyped or amped up for the sake of it. Each is a new remaster excepting "Bridge Of Sighs" which Mew had already revisited in 2007.
First port of call for fans is the amazing previously unreleased song "Let Me Be The One" (a "Long Misty Days" outtake). It's a properly brill slowy that reeks of Thin Lizzy mid Seventies bars and drowning your sorrows in whiskey. I'm genuinely shocked at how good it is - with James Dewar's soulful vocals added real pain and pathos to the lovely guitar melody.
Then of course there's the jewel in the LP crown - the entire "Bridge Of Sighs" album that is a vast improvement over the good rather than great debut "Twice Removed From Yesterday". Speaking of soulful (and even Lizzy) - the beautiful "Daydream" from 1973 sounds glorious (lyrics above). But in truth there are so many goodies on here - and not all of it is straight-up rocking. I love it when the band move out of the guitar pyrotechnics and get funky - the opening track "Shame The Devil" from "For Earth Below" or the Side 2 ender "Messin' The Blues" from "Long Misty Days" are good examples.
On the rocking and funky "Lady Love" (from "Bridge Of Sighs") James Dewar sings, "...A simple truth...and it moves me..."
Indeed it does. A 5-star winner if ever there was one.
PS: see also my review for Volume 2 "Farther On Up The Road..."
If your looking for expansive booklets,elaborate packaging,then look elsewhere,this is as flimsy a package as you'll find.However thats not its purpose,this collection is solely a means to an end,a cheap way of collecting Trowers early work.
What you get are his first 5 albums including ''Bridge Of Sighs' and the fantastic 'Live' spread over 3 discs with some edits and b'sides thrown in,
the remastered sound is fantastic.
For the money,you cant go wrong a fantastic intro to the music of Robin Trower,sit back,crack open a bottle (or two) and experience the magic of Trower,truly underated.
on 28 February 2016
Excellent release. It is 5 LP's on 3 CDs. I have loved RT for years and mainly bought it as I wanted to hear 'For Earth Below' again, as I only had it on vinyl from when I had a record player in the mid seventies. Every track on this album alone is pure vintage gold blues rock. Even apart from RT's guitar work, the richness of James Dewar's vocals is an added bonus. Some of the rhythms are laidback and hypnotic and can transport you back to the seventies if you were ever there. There are some great live tracks to be enjoyed, especially 'Little Bit Of Sympathy'. Also, what a great track 'Messin' The Blues' is and there is also a previously unreleased 'Let Me Be The One'. If you are a Trower fan this is a must and if not this is a great introduction to some great blues rock that, for me, doesn't get any better than this. Glad I bought it even if it did take me years to realise it.
on 31 May 2014
This is an excellent set of tracks from the most important phase in Trower's rock career. I remember seeing Trower at Reading Rock Festival in 1975. Brilliant as is this set especially at this price and with the great vocals of James Dewar. Highly recommended.
on 6 February 2013
Already had all these albums on vinyl, but wanted them in the car without the pops and cracks. Great multi-disc jewel case, great appearance, great sounds. Only slightly annoying issue is that some albums have been split over 2 discs - but not an issue if you think "I'm gonna play some Trower" rather than "I'm gonna play the Live Trower album" :)
If you know Robin Trower then to describe his particular brand of soulful, blues infused rock would seem superfluous. However, if you have chanced upon this review and are unaware of Mr Trower, please read on.
Robin Trower as a guitarist is a distinctive stylist. His solos have a warm, layered sound. He bends notes, adds vibrato (his most distinctive feature?) and sustains them until he has wrenched the last drop of energy and emotion out of them. His chord work is also interesting,his chords often hang in the air, an ethereal backdrop to the main action.As a writer Robin varies his work from hard rock to blues, funk and the occasional ballad. So you are looking for a power trio noise barrage, look elsewhere, because his albums are not all wail and crunch by any means.
Fans will know that the albums assembled here are superior stuff. From time the tunes can be less then inspired, but overall who can argue with songs like 'Too Rolling Stoned', 'Daydream' and 'I Can't Live Without You' for starters? `Bridge of Sighs' is of course a classic of the genre and the live set is one of the most powerful albums of this sort around. I should finally mention just how good the band is as a collective. James Dewar was one of the most underrated vocalists of his era. He gives Trower's music life and a warmth that it might otherwise lack.
So a very good collection. The bonus material is not particularly generous and sleevenotes are at a minimum. The remastering brings out the detail of the recordings, but might be a little bright for some tastes.
on 2 April 2012
Having seen Robin Trower play last year, I decided to purchase this CD to catch up with all the fantastic songs I had not heard before. Wow, I was blown away by this CD and have been listening to it every week since I bought it last year.Without doubt, one of the best albums I have ever purchased.I have also bought this CD twice again as birthday presents for friends. Buy it. You won't regret it.