REVIEW

 

ROBIN TROWER
Complete BBC Sessions 1973-1975 [2CD] taken from the master tapes

If you remember the very first time you heard Robin Trower [formerly of Procol Harum], and if that first time was around the time of his debut album, this collection will bring it all back to you. Concentrating exclusively on the two years when (any subsequent enjoyment notwithstanding), his blend of Hendrix guitar, open-hearted blues and the hottest power trio of the age was truly groundbreaking, the set compiles all five of the sessions Trower recorded for BBC radio between 1973-1975, beginning with a truly magnificent John Peel session (not Bob Harris, as the sleeve claims) in March 1973… "Twice Removed From Yesterday" might even be superior to its superlative LP counterpart, while "Daydream" and "Sinner’s Song" are at least their equals. (Absent here is "Man Of The World," recorded at the same session.)

"Daydream" resurfaced at the band’s next session, for Harris in October, alongside three numbers from the imminent Bridge Of Sighs. "Day Of The Eagle" is the pick of the pack, Trower’s guitar seething behind James Dewar’s so soulful vocals; in fact, one could almost recreate the entire Bridge Of Sighs album from the performances here (only "About To Begin" is missing), and wind up with an collection that seriously wipes the floor with the official set.

Despite the "master tapes" claim, the sound quality isn’t perfect - second or third generation at best, with just a hint of fuzz and fluff around the low and high ends. A sublime "I Can’t Wait Much Longer" (from the February 1974 Harris session), in particular, suffers from a flatness that you know wasn’t there on the original broadcast. But it’s more than remedied by the gorgeous "Bridge Of Sighs" that was recorded for Peel the following month, and the entire package spins your ears back to a time when the Robin Trower trio wasn’t simply the logical successors to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as lazy journalists liked to say, it was just about the best band around. - Dave Thompson

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