Thursday, 19 December 2013

"Farther On Up The Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983" by ROBIN TROWER [feat James Dewar] (2012 EMI 3CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Tasting The Charms…"

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 Flange Pedal got real familiar (it helped that 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 grungier. "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.

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