Robin Trower: Twice Removed From Yesterday - Album Of The Week Club review

Inspired by Hendrix but frequently damned as a copyist, Robin Trower's journey to stardom started with debut album Twice Removed From Yesterday

Robin Trower: Twice Removed From Yesterday
(Image: © Robin Trower)

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Robin Trower: Twice Removed From Yesterday

Robin Trower: Twice Removed From Yesterday

(Image credit: Robin Trower)

I Can Not Wait Anymore
Man of the World
I Can Not Stand It
Rock Me Baby
Recursion Than in the Past
Sinner of the Song

It may have been a pure coincidence that Robin Trower’s first album was released in the same year Free split up, but the timing couldn’t have been better: it marked the arrival of a new guitar hero who evoked the spirit of the late Jimi Hendrix, together James Dewar, a singer with an R&B timbre redolent of Paul Rodgers.

The slow, drifting menace of opening cut I Can’t Wait Much Longer established an unhurried, Free-like template that carried through to songs such as Hanna, a reworking of BB King’s Rock Me Baby and Daydream.

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It was during a Procol Harum tour in San Francisco that Jimi Hendrix died. The band decided to write tribute to Jimi – Song For A Dreamer – for their next album, Broken Barricades. Robin Trower went about the task of producing some music, as he recalls, to “capture the spirit of the man”. Surprisingly, up until this point he had only heard one Hendrix album: “I only had a copy of the first album, which I loved. When I wrote the music for …Dreamer I listened to all his albums a few times, and that’s when his playing started to seep into my own creativity. The stuff I started to write from then on was very influenced [by Jimi].”

Getting properly acquainted with Hendrix’s music had a life-changing effect on Trower, convincing him that it was time to move on. “Songs For A Dreamer seemed to open the floodgates, and I started writing more and more for the guitar. And there wasn’t room for that in Procol Harum.”

The first band he formed after his departure from Procol was Jude, which featured powerhouse Scots singer Frankie Miller. Although nothing came of this collaboration, it was through Miller that Trower was introduced to former Stone The Crows bassist/vocalist Jimmy Dewar. Trower regards that meeting as being “probably the luckiest day in my life”.

Deciding to form a three-piece and make the sound more guitar-oriented, alongside Dewar, Trower brought in drummer Reg Isadore. Record company interest in the band was strong and they soon signed to Chrysalis, and shortly afterwards, in March 1973, the Robin Trower Band (although the records were released under just Trower’s name) released Twice Removed From Yesterday.

Other albums released in March 1973

  • The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
  • Paris 1919 - John Cale
  • A Wizard, a True Star - Todd Rundgren
  • The Captain and Me - The Doobie Brothers
  • Closing Time - Tom Waits
  • Byrds - The Byrds
  • The New Age - Canned Heat
  • For Your Pleasure - Roxy Music
  • Larks' Tongues in Aspic - King Crimson
  • Beck, Bogert & Appice - Beck, Bogert & Appice
  • Houses of the Holy - Led Zeppelin
  • Birds of Fire - Mahavishnu Orchestra
  • Ooh La La - Faces
  • Atem - Tangerine Dream
  • Cosmic Wheels - Donovan
  • Grand Hotel - Procol Harum
  • In Deep - Argent
  • Penguin - Fleetwood Mac
  • Raunch 'N' Roll Live - Black Oak Arkansas
  • Rock and Roll - Foghat
  • Still Alive and Well - Johnny Winter

What they said...

"A forgotten gem released on the blossoming edge of heavy blue psych, Trower’s debut is an exceptional platter from a legendary power trio. Hendrix-based, but in no way Hendrix-bound, Trower’s shimmery chords and unhurried style sought to wring every ounce of emotion from individual notes." (Sputnik Music)

"Robin Trower transcends the realm of traditional music forms, staking out a musical turf that most musicians can't even comprehend, much less attempt to explore. Twice Removed from Yesterday exists on a level so far beyond the rest of most of today's rock that this writer finds it nearly impossible to speak of group and album in traditional critics' jargon." (Rolling Stone)

"The best aspects of Twice Removed would come to full flowering on his next album, Bridge of Sighs, but this debut showed Trower to be an effective interpreter of the Hendrix sound, and not just what numerous others who came in his wake would prove to be: mere imitators." (AllMusic)

What you said...

Tom Dee: One of my favourite albums from the Seventies. Always hated the comparison with Hendrix, whose music I never got on with at all. Trower is original and has been prolific all through his career. 

Superb album, which I saw him play live at Southport Floral Hall supporting Nazareth all those years ago. Trower blew me away that night with his playing and passion and a performance that has lived with me all this time. James Dewar was so underrated with that beautiful tone and a great alliance with Trower's playing. 

Throw in Reg Isidores' drumming and you have the classic rock trio. 10/10 for me, and along with Ashes Argus the only albums that get the full marks from me in this forum.

Robert Anthony: I'll take Robin Trower any day of the year over Jimi Hendrix. Trower, along with Terry Kath and Rory Gallagher, have always been under-appreciated.

Greg Post: This is a solid effort, and a good album overall. It is not quite as good as Bridge of Sighs, but still a good listen. Anything by Robin Trower is worth a listen as he is a very consistent performer. 

Larry Oneal: Robin Trower is a legend in his own right, especially in my eyes. I’m 58 years old, and I don’t compare him to any other musician, simply because he copied no other. His style was his own and was unique.

Andrew Williams: A brilliant debut album. Bridge of Sighs gets all the glory but for me this is superior. Worth the asking price just for the slow burning opening song I Can't Wait Much Longer. Trower's guitar is magnificent but Dewar's voice is out of this world. He's up there with the elite and deserves more recognition.

Tim Kaufman: Growing up, I've been more exposed to more "well-known" guitarists such as Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton. In the 22 years I've been on Earth, how the hell did I miss Robin Trowers? This album is a great debut and to know that his next album is more well-known and has critical acclaim, I'm definitely listening to more of Trowers' band. 

This album is a solid 8/10 from me. The guitar playing of Robin Trowers kicks ass as he should rightfully belong in the class of great guitarists such as Santana and Clapton. What I also liked was that they didn't stick to one genre of rock. Most of it is blues rock but I liked how they dipped their toes into hard rock (I Can't Stand It), funk (Man Of The World), and some jam band-like instrumentation (Hannah). 

Out of all the other genres they experimented with, I loved I Can't Stand It the most. James Dewar is a great soulful blues vocalist. At some parts of the album I thought he could show more emotion (I Can't Wait Much Longer for example) but he fits really well with the instrumentation. Lyrics were okay but easy to understand, and good storytelling. I think Ballerina should have been left off on the album, and this would have been a great eight track album and a borderline 9/10.

Jonathan Novajosky: It grew on me after a few songs. Definitely has a mellow sound to it. Hannah and Twice Removed From Yesterday were the two tracks I enjoyed the most. Solid vocals throughout--I may check out other albums. 6.5/10

Pam Vail: I've been a fan of Robin Trower for years. Him and Dewar were fantastic together. One of my favs from this album is Man Of The World. An awesome duo!

Donnie Butler: I just got done listening to the entire album , it definitely has a mellow groove through most of it, but I love the guitar tone, My favourite songs are I Can't Stand It, Rock Me Baby and Sinner's Song. I will be adding this to my collection for sure!!

Ken Fortier: One of the most underrated players and bands of the heavy British blues explosion that took hold in the late 60s to early 70s. I was introduced to Trower’s music back in the eighties, and no artist has given me more joy when discovering their back catalog than him. Rating this album vs the rest of his body of work it’s a solid 8, vs the entire history of classic rock 6.5. 

Marco LG: I’m afraid this one doesn’t quite cut it for me. The guitar solos are memorable and intense, at times awe-inspiring in fact, vocals are strong and quintessentially hard rock, and the rhythm section is as precise and full of energy as it is enthralling. What is missing however are the songs, those will come in the next effort and will send Robin Trower deservedly on the stratosphere. 

To me Twice Removed From Yesterday sounds like an album designed to show off Robin’s ability with the guitar, and it does a splendid job at it. But for all the magic coming from the single instrument, especially in numbers like Rock Me Baby and Daydream, I am missing the excitement of a well crafted song like Lady Love or Too Rolling Stoned. In conclusion I will say that while Bridge Of Sighs remains a masterpiece to my ears, this one is a good scene setter worthy of a few spins.

I’m afraid I find it difficult to choose this one next to other albums published in 1973, especially when among those there is the debut by Montrose, another guitarist and another vocalist I know.

Steve Jestico: Some great stuff on this album and it's a worthy album indeed, but to these ears falls just short of a classic, which Trower's next album most certainly is. If I could recommend something I'd say get this and a copy of Bridge of Sighs as well. By the time For Earth Below, the follow up to BOS was released, Robin was on the verge of becoming a genuine headline act, before – like a few decent bands in the early to mid seventies – being swept away by the punk tide. 

Ian Kingston: I only bought two albums by Robin Trower: this one and Victims Of The Fury. And because I bought the latter first, that's the one that made the big impression and stayed with me, while Twice Removed... faded into the background over the years.

Side 1 is the stronger half for me, with I Can't Wait Much Longer and Hannah the standouts. Elsewhere, the title track is good, but the weird spoken word passages (shades of Hawkwind and early Deep Purple) spoil it a little. But there's no doubt that this is a strong effort, with superb performances throughout.

Mike Knoop: Going in, I only knew the excellent Bridge Of Sighs (song, not album), so I was interested in hearing more by Robin Trower.

For me, the best blues is always about the voice, and James Dewar's vocals are outstanding throughout. Like Gary Barden with MSG, he's a singer who is automatically underrated because the guitar is the star. 

I like the album best when the tone is at its most menacing (both in terms of songwriting and Trower's guitar). My favourite tracks are I Can't Wait Much Longer, Hannah, and Man Of The World. Instead of just aping the blues, the band hearkens back to the implicit danger in songs by classic bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf. 

I felt the same way about the Free pick, so I can hear the correlation. Both are solid albums that move blues rock forward instead of fetishising the past.

Shane Reho: A nice dose of spacey blues rock. Trower's guitar playing was great when he was in Procol Harum, so there's no reason to believe it wouldn't be better here, where it's the centre of attention. 

James Dewar was a perfect fit on bass and vocal, and Reg Isidore keeps the beat quite well. However, the songs themselves while being good, don't do enough to make this a classic. It's still a good album to listen to when you're in the mood for this kinda sound. They did better next time around imo. On a side note, both the front and back cover designs are cool as hell. 8/10.

John Davidson: From the opening bars of I Cant Wait Much Longer, you know what this album is about. Guitars as thick and slow as molasses accompanied by a mellow, soulful voice that is perfect for singing the blues.

The only problem is that because that guitar and vocal sound is so pervasive, the tracks individually don't often stand out from one another.

Hannah (though topped and tailed with the same languid tone), at least has a bit of a wig out in the middle and Man Of The World has a slightly more funky feel.

On the upside, you can just put the album on in the background and bask in the mellow warmth of a bluesman on his way to becoming a master craftsman.

Bill Griffin: Everybody knows (or should know) the FM radio hits, but this is the first Trower album I've ever listened to. Dewar really does sound like Paul Rogers on a lot of this, something I had not heard in any of those other tracks. While enjoyable, especially I Can't Wait Much Longer, Daydream and Rock Me Baby, it's a rather slow album. Something uptempo would have been nice besides the middle section to Hannah. Still, a worthy first effort.

Mick Hoolihan: Those were the days when I bought albums on the strength of the cover artwork alone! I saw this in the record store and had to have. I had read in the music press that Trower had formed his own band but I wasn't familiar with his style or sound. I invested my paper round money and never looked back. 

I agree the pace of the album was a little on the self-indulgent side, but hey, it was the '70s! I loved his playing and tone and I must admit I never 'got' the Hendrix copyist abuse. Robin's playing was and is so disciplined, but hater's hate, so watcha gonna do? 

Sadly his later albums through the '70's became somewhat formulaic but I will never forget those early concerts, small venues, before he finally made it, headlining Wembley Empire Pool, so that must have been a sold out 12,000 or so, with John Miles as a support I recall. Stadium rock followed. I saw him in Germany in a small club a few years ago and Daydream sounded as good as it ever was. One of my all-time guitar heroes. Nice bloke too.

Carl Black: Completely new to me. I did not know this album existed, so I'm going in blind. It started well. Lazy blues groove. Sounded like a bunch of mates jamming and having a good time. From there my attention wavered and I became a bit board. The songs all bled into one and it didn't stimulate my imagination one way or the other. It got to the danger zone of feeling nothing about it. It almost feels like I've never heard it. Apart from the first song so it's gets something, but not a lot.

Final Score: 7.34 ⁄10 (123 votes cast, with a total score of 904)

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