Sunday, April 4, 2010
Music Review: Robin Trower - Twice Removed From Yesterday
When Robin Trower left Procol Harum in 1972, his future was anything but certain. As the guitar player in a keyboard-dominated band, his name was virtually unknown outside of a very limited audience. That all changed dramatically in 1974, with the release of Bridge Of Sighs. But Bridge was Trower’s second album. His often overlooked debut, Twice Removed From Yesterday, came in 1973 and served as something of a blueprint for what was to follow. After being out of print for years, a new reissue label calling themselves Iconoclassic Records are releasing a remastered version of Twice Removed From Yesterday, which adds a rare non-LP track as a bonus.
The power trio of Trower (guitar), James Dewar (vocals, bass) and Reg Isidore (drums) came together rather quickly, and proved to be the most commercially successful incarnation of the group. Before the massive sales of Bridge, Twice Removed From Yesterday was seen as something of a surprise hit. In the beginning, expectations were pretty low on the part of Chrysalis Records. To boost their profile, the trio were given prime spots on tours with Jethro Tull and Ten Years After. But all the exposure in the world wouldn't have helped if the music wasn‘t there. Fortunately, Robin Trower delivered the goods with Twice Removed From Yesterday.
The original nine-track album opened up with “I Can’t Wait Much Longer.” This slow blues contains the patented heavy chording that would later gain fame as the basis of “Bridge Of Sighs.” As with all of the songs, Trower also gets off a furious extended solo midway through. One of the criticisms leveled at the guitarist over the years is his overt reverence for Jimi Hendrix. Frankly, I could think of worse crimes. Be that as it may, however, “Daydream” nods in the direction of one of Jimi’s most delicate tunes, “Little Wing.” “I Can’t Stand It” is a much more pronounced Hendrix acknowledgment, sort of the Trower band’s “Purple Haze.”
The funkiness the trio were to pursue later on songs such as “Day Of The Eagle” is also foreshadowed here with “Man Of The World.” This was the lone single from the album, with the non-LP B-Side “Take A Fast Train.” The single sank like a stone, but the rare “Take A Fast Train” is included on this reissue. The lone cover version is “Rock Me Baby,” from blues master B.B. King. The grit these Brits bring to the song is amazing. Dewar’s voice is as authentic as it comes, and Trower’s guitar smokes.
There was still a bit of hippie-hangover in 1973, as the title cut proves. It is an interesting track, and Dewar really tries to sell it, but this is not one of Trower’s finest moments. “Sinners Song” makes up for it though. This is my favorite on the record, and features what the band did best: heavy blues rock, with some truly lyrical soloing from their namesake. Another notable element of “Sinners Song” is how Dewar and Isidore get their moments in the sun as well.
Twice Removed closes with a ballad titled “Ballerina,” which is one of Trower’s finest songs. It has remained in his repertoire on and off ever since. In retrospect, the debut of the trio that called themselves Robin Trower is one of the stronger albums released in 1973. It is highly recommended for fans of Bridge Of Sighs particularly, as well as for those who just enjoy the sound of some great electric blues guitar.