For years Procol Harum's Robin Trower seemed locked into those Hendrix comparisons - pumping out album after album of Hard Rock Riffage - simple no-nonsense guitar classics like "Bridge Of Sighs" and "For Earth Below" in 1974 and 1975. Then come the late Seventies and his inner Bernard Edwards and Chic seemed to grab him by the short and curlies and the man went for it. And I for one - loved it to bits.
I've always thought his "In The City" and "Caravan To Midnight" LPs from 1977 and 1978 (with the mighty James Dewar on vocals) to be Funky Rock meisterworks where Trower and his Funky Flange Pedal got real familiar (the Bass player Rustee Allen used to ply his plank with Sly & The family Stone). And that's where this 3CD set comes in. Here are the fret-flicking details...
UK released 27 Feb 2012 - "Father On Up The Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983" by ROBIN TROWER on EMI/Chrysalis 301 3862 (Barcode 5099930138629) is the mega label's second anthology for guitar virtuoso Robin Trower ("A Tale Untold" was the first) and the 3CD set breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (79:30 minutes): 1. Somebody Calling 2. Sweet Wine Of Love 3. Bluebird 4. Falling Star 5. Farther On Up The Road 6. Smile 7. Little Girl 8. Love's Gonna Bring You Round 9. In City Dreams Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "In City Dreams" released September 1977 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1148.
10. Bluebird (7" Edit) - a non-album version
11. My Love (Burning Love) 12. Caravan To Midnight 13. I'm Out To Get You 14. Lost In Love 15. Fool 16. It's For You 17. Birthday Boy 18. King Of The Dance 19. Sail On Tracks 11 to 19 are the album "Caravan To Midnight" released August 1978 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1189.
Disc 2 (73:07 minutes): 1. Jack And Jill 2. Roads To Freedom 3. Victims Of The Fury 4. The Ring 5. Only Time 6. Into The Flame 7. The Shout 8. Mad House 9. Ready For The Taking 10. Fly Low Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Victims Of The Fury" released January 1980 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1215.
Track 11 is "One In A Million" - the non-album B-side to the 7" single "Victims Of The Fury" released January 1980 on Chrysalis CHS 2402.
12. Into Money 13. What It Is 14. Won't Let You Down 15. No Island Lost 16. It's Too Late 17. Life On Earth 18. Once The Bird Has Flown 19. Carmen 20. Feel The Heat 21. End Game Tracks 12 to 21 are the album "B.L.T." released February 1981 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1324. The B.L.T. refers to the Guitarist, Bass and Drummer - Robin Trower, Bill Lordan and Jack Bruce.
Disc 3 (71:26 minutes): 1. Gonna Shut You Down 2. Gone Too Far 3. Thin Ice 4. Last Train To The Stars 5. Take Good Care Of Yourself 6. Fall In Love 7. Fat Gut 8. Shadows Touching 9. Little Boy Lost Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "Truce" released January 1982 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1352 (credited to Robin Trower and Jack Bruce).
10. Back It Up 11. River 12. Black To Red 13. Benny Dancer 14. Time Is Short 15. Islands 16. None But The Brave 17. Captain Midnight 18. Settling The Score Tracks 10 to 18 are the album "Back It Up" released September 1983 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1420 and FV 41420 respectively.
To get 6 albums and two 7" single sides thrown in for just over twelve quid is pretty amazing value for money (including a free rip to your PC or Mac). But the big deal here is the 2012 PETER MEW REMASTER. 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.
I've always thought "In City Dreams" to have been an overlooked funky nugget in his catalogue. Often associated with Hendrix in terms of guitar sound and technique - people are amazed at the sweetness of Trower's playing on lullabies like "Bluebird" and "Little Girl". But my bomb is the funky-rock of "Somebody's Calling" with its hooks and flange effect - I've often included in on my 70's Fest CD Shop Plays and it always brings a customer hustling to the counter wanting to know who this fantastic track is by (lyrics from it title this review).
The single "It's For You" was a purchase of mine on red vinyl back in the day when we devoured 45s for breakfast. There are so many goodies on here. A major highlight on the "Caravan To Midnight" LP is the stunning "I'm Out To Get You" where pinging guitar notes build and build until it reaches a Funk-Rock chug that keeps impressive as he adds layers of brilliant solos. It helps that the Bass Player was Rustee Allen - ex Sly & The family Stone. The spacey almost-Hawkwind-in-places title track instrumental "Caravan To Midnight" is another nugget on an overlooked album - sort of England's answer to Santana's Caravanserai only the guitar is a hundred times more grungy. "Back It Up" was only issued on CD in 1999 and the other albums have been either unissued or released on long deleted titles. And apart from Bill Lordan and Jack Bruce who brought so much the table - the other unsung hero in the line-up is vocalist JAMES DEWAR (ex Stone The Crows) whose tones and lyrics brought the touch Trower needed to the songs (sadly missed).
The 12-page booklet pictures the albums and has a brief history on them by noted writer MALCOLM DOME whose name has graced many a quality reissue. In fact this entire EMI series is exemplary.
On the rocking "My Love (Burning Love)" James Dewar sings, "My love is a burning love...and its yours 'til the end of time..." Indeed it is.
I've also reviewed "Taking Some Time On..." by BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, "That's Who!..." by FRANKIE MILLER and "Think About The Time..." by TEN YEARS AFTER in this 3CD series.
While to me the material on this second version is not quite as strong as Chrysalis Years Vol.1 I would still rate this release 5 stars because you get six(!) albums of remastered Trower from his the late 70's/early 80's period at one very low price. The booklet is more informative here also, so its a no brainer to pick this up if you liked Vol. 1. If you are new to or just getting in to Robin's work I would suggest you start with Vol.1 & then move into Vol.2. Its nice to see that there is still great value being offered by the big music labels after all of the overpriced Immersion & Super Deluxe box sets being released recently. Highly recommended!!
Any great artist may have a period of great commercial acclaim with record sales to match but that doesn't last forever. The tendency then, is to think that this is a result of an inferior product. In some cases perhaps, but certainly not here!
Another important consideration is that in the 70's and early 80's Artists like Robin were producing a record per year - sometimes two! Another reason why the 'commercial mass' may move on to the next thing: saturation -too much of a good thing.
My point being that although these releases were not as commercially successful as Robin's previous releases that in no way can be seen as a sign of inferior quality. Far from it, we have a diversity in scope that is amongst his best. In City Dreams is almost a Funk/Blues outing. Caravan to Midnight (long been my favourite RT release) is a R&B, meets Soul, meets the blues tour de force. All achieved with the same inimitable RT sound and yes, the wonderful Jimmy Dewar!
Victims of the fury is more aligned to a blues rock format and contains the sensational Roads to Freedom. Reason enough to buy it.
The two records with Jack Bruce are very good (especially BLT) but JB is not on a par as a singer or as good a fit as JD in my opinion and so not quite as pleasing for me.
Lastly Back it up -it has some great tunes on it, but perhaps, not quite on a par with the other releases here... This was the last Record with JD -sadly - and RT took a break before returning with Dave Bronze on vocals in Beyond the Mist. With all respect to Dave Bronze, I can't tell you how disappointed I was to finally get to see Robin in 1985 and then find no Jimmy on vocals!!! Never got to see him... Gutted! : (
Please don't let the consensus that reduced sales equals reduced quality... these are pretty much essential for any collection let alone a committed RT fan!
Excellent music...this completes the great run of Robin Trower albums. It's also great to see a well deserved mention for James Dewar on the cover, he was always the icing on the cake for me. This is not to decry the material featuring Jack Bruce, I just love Jimmy's voice more.
I'm quite new to robin trower, all I knew of was the Victims of the Fury LP which my dad had on cassette. Brilliant guitar playing, obviously influenced by Hendrix although some of the funkier stuff reminds me of Jeff Beck. Mellow, Funky, Bluesy and Total Rock, theres something for everbody here (Especially if you love good guitar work). Crank up Jack and Jill from Victims of the Fury and watch the hairs stand up on your arms. (Awseome riff and intro). Can't stop listening to this album. Ace. 10/10
Already had most of these albums on vinyl, but a couple were new to me. 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" :)
This is a great set at a great price. It is not as good as A Tale Untold. Much prefer the James Dewar tracks. Nothing wrong with Jack Bruce but Dewar's voice just works better with Trower tracks. Trower's guitar shines through though.