Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983
Unlikely as it may now seem, boys and girls, there was a day when Rod Stewart deferred the spotlight to guitarist Jeff Beck—for at least a couple of albums in the late 1960s, it was Beck’s name who graced the cover of the albums they made together. The notion of the superstar lead guitarist to whom the singer played sidekick survived into the ’70s, at least long enough for former Procol Harum six-string firestarter Robin Trower to become a top-line superstar with his 1974 landmark Bridge of Sighs, aided by singer and bass player James Dewar. But as that decade wore on, patience grew shorter for the kind of Hendrixian fireworks in which Trower specialized, and—as this gathering of his material for the Chrysalis label demonstrates—he cannily laid back and let his songs and their singers speak for themselves.
Farther On Up the Road finds Trower gradually retrenching, experimenting and re-retrenching through six complete albums on three discs (with a couple of rare non-LP tracks thrown in as well). The collection’s first half is dominated as much by the Paul Rodgers-ish vocals of Dewar as by Trower himself, who further steps aside when powerhouse ex-Cream member Jack Bruce enters for 1981’s B.L.T. and 1982’s Truce. Just as important is the ’79 return of Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid, whose poetic touch replaces the previously pedestrian lyrics. By ’83’s aptly titled Back It Up, Bruce and Reid were gone, Dewar was back and an intriguingly transitional era of Trower’s career was complete. –Chris Neal