Sunday, 17 July 2016

"In City Dreams" by ROBIN TROWER (Inside 2012’s 3CD Set ‘Father On Up The Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983’) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I Was 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 City Dreams" 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. And that’s where this fabulous Remastered 3CD set from EMI comes in. Here are the fret-flicking details...

UK released 27 Feb 2012 - "Father On Up The Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983" on EMI/Chrysalis 301 3862 (Barcode 5099930138629) is the mega label's second anthology for Procol Harum’s first guitar virtuoso ROBIN TROWER (“A Tale Untold” was the first) and 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.

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". The addition of Bassist Rustee Allen to his band (ex Sly & The Family Stone) only served to up the hip-swivelling gyrations by a factor of ten. And I've always thought the gritty vocals and songwriting talent of ex Stone The Crows vocalist JAMES DEWAR added so much to Trower's band - sadly lost to us years back.

This overlooked album opens with the brilliant Funky-Rock of "Somebody's Calling" – a seriously hooky groove that just builds and builds with its melodic strums and flange effect and Dewar's vocals that come sailing in only half way through. I've often included in on my 70's Fest CD Shop Plays and it used to always bring a customer hustling to the counter wanting to know - who this fantastic track is by (lyrics from it title this review). We mellow down with both the mid-tempo "Sweet Wine Of Love" and the lovely ballad "Bluebird". A more familiar "Bridge Of Sighs" Trower returns with the chunky Rock riffage of "Falling Star" while the side ends with an oddly placed 'live' rendition of "Further On Up The Road" where both Trower and Dewar elicit whistles and cheers from the Rock-Funkin' crowd.

Back to trippy business with the wickedly cool "Smile" - a flange and strummer similar to "Somebody's Calling" - while "Little Girl" sees his Bluesy Guitar doubled-up for effect as Dewar whispers the 'left on the could never fly...' lyrics. "Love's Gonna Bring You Round" should have been released as UK 7" single - catchy and representative of the album's overall sound. The guitars swirl and flange throughout the entire Bass-pumping Rock of "In City Dreams". Very cool...

On the celebratory "Sweet Wine Of Love" - James Dewar sings "...Let's throw a party...everyone is invited..." 

Accept the invitation as soon as your wallet will allow...

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