Monday, 10 March 2014

“A Tale Untold: The Chrysalis Years 1973 - 1976” by ROBIN TROWER [feat James Dewar of Stone The Crows] (July 2010 EMI 3CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...We Were Spellbound..."

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. You get album after album of Hard Rock, Blues, Boogie and yes - funky as fuck 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 (3CDs) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (63:06 minutes):
1. I Can’t Wait Much Longer
2. Daydream
3. Hannah
4. Man Of The World
5. I Can’t Stand It
6. Rock Me Baby
7. Twice Removed From Yesterday
8. Sinner’s Song
9. Ballerina
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
10. Alethea
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
15. Daydream
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
3. Alethea
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
8. Caledonia
9. Pride
10. Sailing
11. S.M.O.
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..."

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