James Dewar - vocals; Rustee Allen - bass; Bill Lordan - drums; Robin Trower - guitar
During the late 1960s, as guitarist for Procol Harum, Robin Trower developed an approach which proved him equally adept at providing rhythmic spacing devices as well as beefy lead guitar work within the context of their keyboard dominated instrumentation. When he formed his own band in the early 1970s, this experience would serve him well, allowing him to push the limited boundaries of the power trio format, by playing rhythm and lead guitar in a virtually simultaneous manner. Mixing his obvious Hendrix influence with a healthy dose of psychadelia and the blues, Trower created a distinctive sound. Unlike Hendrix, to which he is so often compared, Trower's dominant tonal device was heavy reverb, rather than fuzz, feedback and distortion. He was rarely flamboyant, preferring to emphasize singular effective notes or chords into dreamy melodic washes of sound.
In 1977, the year of this King Biscuit recording, Trower began a conscious effort to revive his commitment to his rhythm and blues roots. A key personnel change within the band would help facilitate this and in the process improve their live performances. He expanded the trio to a quartet, bringing in Rustee Allen, a funk-style bass player, which immediately added punch to the overall sound. This additionally freed up lead singer James Dewar, who had played bass in the trio lineup, to fully concentrate on vocals. This had a dramatic effect on the band's overall sound and pointed to a marked change in direction. When the band entered Miami's Criteria Studios to record the In City Dreams album, they took a distinctively more disciplined R&B approach. The new material was more accessible, while retaining their distinctive sound.
This performance, recorded at the peak of the group's popularity, features a healthy dose of the new In City Dreams material, as well as nearly all off the 1974 Bridge Of Sighs album material that initially established their reputation. Several of the classic older songs are significantly extended here, including a bluesy rendition of "Too Rolling Stoned" that ventures into areas totally unexplored on its studio counterpart. Here the song has a pulsating subtle funk feel, changing tempos midway, allowing Trower to solo in a far more creative manner. The sole song from the band's debut album Twice Removed From Yesterday, "Daydream" is taken at a considerably slower tempo, serving to emphasize Trower's gritty guitar. The nearly nine-minute take on "Bridge Of Sighs" and "Day Of The Eagle," which immediately follows, shows the new format gelling best on older material. "Little Bit Of Sympathy" and "The Fool And Me," two additional tracks originally featured on Bridge Of Sighs, are also included in the set.
The new album at the time, In City Dreams is prominently featured throughout the set, including strong performances of "Somebody Calling," "Falling Star" and "Smile," all surfacing early on. However, it is the final two songs of the set that capture some of the most interesting performances of this memorable night. Both "Messin The Blues" (which features an impressive bass solo from Allen) and the set closing Bobby Blue Bland cover, "Further On Up The Road," allow Trower to more fully explore his blues roots.
This concert is a great example of Trower's strongest material performed by the most potent lineup of his band. The rough edges thoroughly enhance these songs and capture him in outstanding undiluted form.