[Review] Robin Trower: In City Dreams (1977)

Now expanded to a quartet, this is a dreamier and more soulful spin on the band’s psychedelic blues-rock.

Kronomyth 6.0: Soul Trower, got to have it.

With Detroit-based producer Don Davis, Robin Trower explored a more soulful side of their psychedelic rhythm and blues on In City Dreams. The album also featured Rustee Allen (ex-Sly and the Family Stone) on bass, allowing James Dewar to focus on vocals. As a quartet, the band doesn’t sound much different than before: the mesmerizing guitar work of Robin Trower and James Dewar’s voice remain the main attractions.

All of the Robin Trower records up to this point are worth owning. Highlights this time include Sweet Wine of Love, Bluebird and the title track (Trower’s “Bolero”). In City Dreams is gauzier and dreamier than their last album, more soul than funk, with slower songs like Love’s Gonna Bring You Round and Little Girl shot through the softened lens of the burgeoning discotheque sound. The uniqueness of Robin Trower’s tone often feels like Jimi Hendrix on quaaludes (an awful description, I know) in its mixture of liquidness and lingering.

Once again, there isn’t really a weak track on this album. Whether the band is putting a tight studio twist on funked-up blues-rock (Somebody Calling, Falling Star) or playing it relatively straight (Farther Up the Road), Dewar and Trower captivate. The rhythm section remains solid, although Allen is only a slight upgrade and Bill Lordan is an understated drummer. Much of the time, they play at a slow simmer while the aromatic guitar playing of Trower seeps into your senses.

I wouldn’t bother ranking the Robin Trower albums based on merit. Either their music strikes a chord with you or it doesn’t. If you get a charge from Trower’s power, as I do, you’ll want to pick up the first five studio albums, maybe beginning with Bridge of Sighs. After that, they’re kind of one-sighs-fits-all, with the caveat that In City Dreams is a bit dreamier than its predecessors.

Original elpee version

A1. Somebody Calling (4:56)
A2. Sweet Wine of Love (2:57)
A3. Bluebird (5:32)
A4. Falling Star (2:45)
A5. Farther Up the Road (Don Robey/Joe Medwick Veasey) (2:33)
B1. Smile (4:45)
B2. Little Girl (4:51)
B3. Love’s Gonna Bring You Round (4:36)
B4. In City Dreams (5:14)

All songs written by Robin Trower and James Dewar unless noted.

Original 8-track version
A1. Somebody Calling
A2. Love’s Gonna Bring You Round
B1. Smile
B2. Little Girl
C1. Sweet Wine of Love
C2. Falling Star
C3. In City Dreams (Part I)
D1. In City Dreams (Part II)
D2. Farther Up the Road
D3. Bluebird

The Players

Robin Trower (guitar), Rustee Allen (bass), James Dewar (vocals), Bill Lordan (drums). Produced by Don Davis; engineered by Don Gehman, Alex Sadkin; remix engineered by Robin Trower, Don Gehman, Alex Sadkin.

The Pictures

Cover design by Funky Paul Olsen.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track in September 1977* in the UK, the US and Canada (Chrysalis, CHR/8CH-1148), Germany (Chrysalis, 6307 610) and Japan (Chrysalis, WWS-80915). (*First appeared in 9/17/77 issue of Billboard.) Reached #25 on the US charts and #58 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Chrysalis, F2 21148).
  2. Re-packaged with Long Misty Days on 2-for-1 compact disc on May 27, 1997 in the US (BGO).

1 thought on “[Review] Robin Trower: In City Dreams (1977)

  1. Perfect! “One ‘sighs’ fits all” Good stuff! And I dig the recognizable sounds as well. ~casey

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