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Robin Trower - Compendium 1987-2013

  by Lisa Torem

published: 6 / 4 / 2014

Robin Trower - Compendium 1987-2013
Label: Repertoire Records
Format: CD X2


Enthralling double CD compilation from British rock and blues guitarist, Robin Trower

On the liner notes, which accompany Robin Trower’s 'Compendium 1987-2013', author Michael Heatley refers to the British guitarist as “an axeman’s axeman.” Keep that alias in mind as you peruse this inviting collection, as Heatley really hit the mark. Trower began his career in the Sixties with the Paramounts but carved his name in stone when working with Procol Harum, with whom he recorded five albums. The launch of his solo career in 1971 allowed him to truly spread his artistic wings. Trower gained popularity on both sides of the pond, and in the mid 1980s broke away from the conventional stronghold of the major labels. This double CD features many of Trower’s most glowing and defining moments as he recorded tracks for ‘Passion’, ‘Take What You Need’, ‘In The Line of Fire’, ‘20th Century Blues’, ‘Go My Way’, ‘Living Out of Time’, ‘Another Days Blues’, ‘Seven Moons’, ‘What Lies Beneath’, ‘The Playful Heart’ and ‘Roots and Branches’. Wisely, the carefully honed collection includes tunes that accentuate Trower’s solo expertise, ability to tear off riff after riff of contagious fury, solo songwriting prowess and co-writes with Jack Bruce, Richard Watts and Dave Bronze. Expect to hear Trower’s unique spin on classics like Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’ and 'The Thrill is Gone’ and to appreciate his musical expansiveness as he keeps his style sonically relevant despite decades of changing musical trends. Vocals are courtesy of Scot James Dewar (who died in 2002), Davey Pattison and Trower. ‘Inside Out’ is the first song you will hear, and it is bursting with blistering emotion and truculent riffs. “Your love is turning me upside down” is the reason for all of this commotion, of course, and the man is already at the top of his game. On to the Asiatic scales and brazen bass line of ‘Freefall’ with its Hendrix-like phrasing. Trower’s work has frequently drawn comparisons to Jimi's, but that’s a problem many guitarists would love to have. ‘Seven Moons’ is a transformational voyage – “Breathe the air so clean and bright/Shake off the years of dirt and dust.” That album was done in collaboration with the great Jack Bruce. The bass lines are to die for. ‘The Playful Heart’ is another not-to-miss selection. The story unfolds immediately: “Step into the spotlight” and the bottom line is “The world could not fulfill the playful heart.” The song makes the trappings and isolation of fame come strangely alive through “ the hidden door in the garden wall.” Wah wah reigns supreme in the desolate ‘Please Tell Me’. “My heart was searching for a friend,” conveys a powerful moment. Then a flash of tambourine surges with a sandblast of optimism – “to show the world reborn.” A wall of tension and determination follows in ‘Tear It Up,’ a brilliant rocker with masterful vocals. More straightforward story telling follows in ‘Passion’ – “Forget the costume/Take me as I am.” In 'The Last Door’ vocals melt over dissonant riffs. What Trower proclaims in a two-bar solo here overrides what many musicians try to say in a lifetime. ‘The Thrill is Gone’ may be BB’ King's baby, but Trower reimagines the 12-bar classic with unique affection. But his gentle side also beckons. ‘If Forever’ is as tranquil as a lullaby but strong as a national anthem. “Let the waters close around me/Keep the sunlight from my eyes.” Of course, Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’ is included in this all-consuming blues celebration, and the lyrics ring out loud and clear. It’s the ultimate blues concoction. Just add ears. ‘Go My Way’ is a confessional and psychedelic sidebar. The variety on this side alone is mind-boggling. The second CD starts in a steady stream of optimism, ‘Don’t Lost Faith in Tomorrow’ features a sandpapery reminder: “If you lose faith in tomorrow/ You give up love today.” The blues-drenched intro. and excellent advice in ‘Next in Line’ will wake up any dazed victim of tainted love. The next two songs shift the senses: the ethereal ‘Sleeping On The Moon’ and the incredibly reflective ‘Once The Spell is Broken’ But it gets more progressive. ‘Wish You Were Mine’ is a mysterious brew of staggering textures and cinematic ambience and one of Trower’s most consuming instrumentals. ‘Secret Place’ literally sends shivers up the spine. It’s hard to believe that even a plainly articulated arpeggio can make an instrumental so gripping. The Jack Bruce/Robin Trower epic 'Seven Moons; regaled us with the riveting ‘Just Another Day’ and the no-nonsense ‘No Time’ where “the gig is up, my covers blown” is sung with absolute conviction. At this time, the 2003 CD 'Living Out of Time; is also being reissued. With the power house combo of Dave Bronze on bass, Davey Pattison on vocals, Pete Thompson on drums, and, of course, maestro Robin Trower, the album also conveys truthfulness and showcases technical precision. Songs were written by Trower or as a co-write with Richard Watts. To sum it up, Trower vets will salivate at the very mention of these songs and new fans will benefit from the carefully chosen selections, which showcase Trower and mates at their very best. Of course, after listening to these tunes, fans may go back and rediscover earlier must-haves like ‘Bridge of Sighs’. But, of course, there are no super stars without the fans and Trower’s work has garnered many. One dedicated fan, James Apostle, explains why Robin Trower’s music has meant so much to him for so long: “I'm a musician’s biggest fan. I’ve seen every 60's and 70's band and still don't miss a show that can bring me back to when I was in my teens and 20's. I believe it's the only thing in life that can make you a kid again for a couple of hours! I grew up in the greatest era of music that will ever be. Among all the great bands, and I do mean great, I was turned on to Robin Trower, to me, the greatest! His music is flawless, and that comes from the soul. To listen to his 'Bridge of Sighs' album from start to finish is magical, not to say his other achievements are less.” “When these greats toured in the 70's, they were touring their new releases, so when you went to these concerts, the songs were played exactly as you heard them on their album. But I've found as time has passed, some bands changed the way the songs were played,. They don't understand that the only way to take people back to feeling like a kid again is to play the song exactly as it was originally recorded. This is what I’ve listened to for 40 years.” “The biggest tours, such as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, stay true to their original recordings. Once I see an artist, and they change their recordings, I'm done with them. Robin Trower plays his music exactly like the first time I ever heard him! Sometimes, I'm sure, it must get tiresome after forty years, but if they know how much it means to a fan like myself, they would realize this is why they are still in big demand. Tops on my bucket list would be a picture of Robin Trower and myself, autographed, and if I died the next day, I'd feel like I had a complete rock and roll life! A true fan... James Apostal.”

Track Listing:-
1 Inside Out (Remastered)
2 Freefall (Remastered)
3 Too Much Joy (Remastered)
4 Seven Moons (Remastered)
5 The Playful Heart (Remastered)
6 Please Tell Me (Remastered)
7 The Turning (Remastered)
8 Tear It Up (Remastered)
9 The Last Door (Remastered)
10 Not Inside - Outside (Remastered
11 Looking for a True Love (Remast
12 Crossroads (Remastered)
13 Prisoner of Love (Remastered)
14 Go My Way (Remastered)
15 Dressed in Gold (Remastered)
16 Breathless (Remastered)
17 Prince of Shattered Dreams (Rem
18 Another Time Another Place (Rem
19 20th Century Blues (Remastered)
20 Living out of Time (Remastered)
21 So Far to Yesterday (Remastered)
22 Blue for Soul (Remastered)
23 Don't Lose Faith in Tomorrow (Re
24 Next in Line (Remastered)
25 Sleeping on the Moon (Remastere
26 Once the Spell Is Broken (Remast
27 Sea of Love (Remastered)
28 Wish You Were Mine (Remastered
29 Secret Place (Remastered)
30 Just Another Day (Remastered)

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