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The Music of Robin Trower                                                        Studio Album Discography

 

DVD and CD release restores classic BBC broadcast

1980 Rock Goes To College (2015) Repertoire Records REPUK 1241

1980 RGTC IMG_1642 - Copy

For the best part of 35 years, most of us will have had to put up with, at best, basic low-grade homemade recordings or dodgy VHS-to-DVD transfers of this unforgettable TV performance.

Thank you Repertoire Records. Thank you BBC. This is the one live recording Trower fans worldwide, have been waiting for! Yes folks, it’s time to put your DIY and bootleg copies aside and invest in the real deal, the pucker package of this particular episode from the Beeb’s long-running and much-loved concert series.

Buy and you won’t be disappointed! Repertoire have done their homework well with some skilful audio remastering from Jon Astley, DVD mastering and editing by Deluxe Media Europe Limited and design work by Pete Hayward. The finished DVD and CD set is a joy to behold, faithfully recapturing the magic of one of Robin’s most pivotal and memorable live shows.

It would be Robin’s very last performance on British soil with Bill Lordan and James Dewar. This trio, which had first set out five years earlier around the time of Robin’s third album release ‘For Earth Below’, would head Stateside for one final tour there, after this ‘Rock Goes To College’ recording. So folks, this is special, very special.

It was always going to be special. It was always going to be a fine performance. The reason is simple. It was recorded the night after the last show of the band’s 15-date UK tour, an absolutely blinding performance at Newcastle’s City Hall, a tale told elsewhere here on this site. (Please note: The date given on the cover of this superb remaster is the date that the show was first broadcast on UK TV, not the date of its recording.)

Robin, James and Bill were in absolutely stonking form. What comes over so eloquently in these 40-minute recordings is the trio’s perfect partnership, their synchronicity, their space, their style.

The set list presented here draws on material from Robin’s then current release ‘Victims of the Fury’ (‘The Ring’, ‘The Shout’ and ‘Victims of the Fury’) plus classic tracks from his first two albums (‘Day of the Eagle’, ‘Bridge of Sighs’, ‘Daydream’ etc.)

The pace is electrifying. ‘Day of the Eagle’ kicks things off with Robin’s gold Strat (rosewood neck), extensive pedal board and massive Marshall backline leading the attack. The sound achieved throughout is among his best ever and, no surprises, is often at its most telling on the outro sections, ‘Day of the Eagle’, ‘The Ring’ and ‘Bridge of Sighs’ being particularly potent examples.

The whole show flows so effortlessly: Bill working his way around his kit with great gusto; Jimmy’s vocals and bass line so clear and crisp; Robin twisting and turning the notes out from his guitar throughout; and occasionally grabbing the mike to say a few words to the, largely student, audience (the show was recorded at the former University of London Union on Malet Street).

The highlights for me are probably one of the best-ever renditions of ‘Too Rolling Stoned, a fabulous version of ‘The Shout’ with its clever and deeply compelling segue straight into the perfect albeit extremely brief ‘Hannah’ and an amazing, if all too short, ‘Daydream’ (then again it’s only a 40-minute show Alan, so these are technically the single edits not the full album versions).

Pete Drummond’s introduction is kept safely in tact here too. I love the way he talks about ‘Billy Lordan’ and ‘Jim Dewar’ and his emphatic introduction of the main man ‘and on guitar, the incomparable Robin Trower, the Robin Trower Band’.

Blues Matters! magazine’s Alan Pearce and Pete Sargeant provide the splendid liner notes and there’s a full roll-call of the BBC production team there on the day – Director Tom Corcoran, his assistant Rose Rudnicka, Producer Michael Appleton, Soundman Graham Haines, Lighting men  Neil Kirby and George Jakins.

35 years on, this Repertoire DVD and CD release celebrates one of the best nights ever for Robin Trower, his faithful sidemen and merry fans. This is a classic restoration of a definitive performance by three rhythm and blues masters. Enjoy folks!

Review by Alan Howard. Find out more about Repertoire Records by visiting their site here

 

Something’s About To Change (2015) Manhaton Records Hatman 2039

In The Studio CT

Listening to ‘Something’s About To Change’ I can’t help feeling this is the start of a brand new chapter for Robin Trower. It’s a deeply personal set of songs arranged, recorded and produced with panache aplenty. This is Robin moving on and moving up. This record is bold, compelling and utterly mesmerising.

Robin not only plays and sings, he plays bass too. Incredibly it’s his twenty-fourth studio album release. It’s a really inspiring and sophisticated record, with Robin and his sidemen laying down an intoxicating mix of blues, RnB, soul and funk fusion. There’s a real sense of freshness, ingenuity and simplicity to it.

I have every expectation that ‘Something’s About To Change’ won’t just earn Robin the critical acclaim he so richly deserves, it’ll put him on course to pick up the award for the best British blues album of 2015!

As a serial fan, I’d say there are always instant album track favourites on any new Robin Trower release. Those choices tend to shift and change over time but that’s the joy of following an artist like Robin, someone whose output has been so tirelessly consistent. Period.

‘Til I Reach Home’ is the stand-out track for me, right now. I love its hope and contentment. For me it encapsulates everything about Robin’s music at this particular time. It speaks out to me ‘hey yes, I’m proud of what came before but c’mon folks, let’s not lounge around in the past for too long, let’s get on with each brand new day!’

‘Riff No.7 (Still Alive)’ is a veritable joy to behold. If, like me, you pitch albums like ‘For Earth Below’ and ‘In City Dreams’ in your top three, you’ll adore this one too. The counterpoint of the vocal line, the bump bass, Chris Taggart’s off-beat ride on the solo, his ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ fill, yet more reasons to be cheerful!

Luke Smith’s shimmering chords and keyboards dazzle in and out throughout the album. ‘Dreams That Shone Like Diamonds’ is a good case in point. The vibe on this track is incredible with (surprise, surprise) the bass kicking things off, a simple twist of congas adding to the atmosphere and Robin’s guitar soaring on high, up above - soulful, passionate, heartfelt.

The title track packs a powerful punch with Chris Taggart’s fabulous playing at the heart of everything. Indeed, the drum sound throughout is a triumph, another unsung highlight of what is, without doubt, a real tour de force!
I just can’t wait to hear it live.

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If you would like to contribute a review of any of Robin’s CD releases or live shows in Europe, do get in touch!
You can email me here or send me a tweet @uktrowerfans

Have a look at my first Trower discography too (more to follow)  In The Studio lists all his studio albums
Click here for 2015 UK gig reviews.

 

Live Reviews: 2011 UK Tour with Christopher Taggart and Richard Watts
We must come here more often 16 Sept 2011: O2 Sheffield Review
Robin’s got a brand new bag 28 Aug 2011: Stables MK Review

More reviews
Best of the noughties My pick of top Trower tunes from 2000-2010? Review

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robintrowerlive.co.uk is produced by Alan Howard. This site is strictly unofficial and entirely independent of the artist Robin Trower, his management, band, record company, media and any other advisors or suppliers. Just a fan, just my views.

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