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In Case You Missed Them: EMI Budget Boxes from Robin Trower, Kevin Ayers

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In the past few months, EMI has released or announced more of their budget box sets which collect swaths of complete albums and rare tracks over multiple, low-frills discs. In particular, today we spotlight two such sets from two virtuosic British musicians.

In February, the label released Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983 by Robin Trower. The London-born Procol Harum guitarist cut a steady amount of solid blues-based albums after leaving the “Whiter Shade of Pale” band in 1971, eventually paring his sound down to a power trio with vocalist/bassist James Dewar and drummer Reg Isidore. Bill Lordan would replace Isidore behind the drum kit starting with 1975’s For Earth Below; this trio is largely what’s heard on Farther On Up the Road, except for two of the final albums of Trower’s Chrysalis tenure.

On 1981’s B.L.T., he was joined by legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce (the trio’s last initials make up the quirky album title); Bruce played on subsequent disc Truce, released later that year, with Isidore rejoining the group on drums. This set features every album from In City Dreams (1977) to Back It Up (1983), along with two non-LP B-sides.

Meanwhile, EMI will release in April a bigger, if slightly more frustrating, such set for Kevin Ayers, noted psychedelic musician and a founder of Soft Machine, a noted band in the genre. Ayers amicably left the shapeshifting band in 1968 (toward the end of his time in Soft Machine, he played with a then-unknown guitarist named Andy Summers, later the axe-man for The Police) and focused on an eclectic solo career. His time as one of the first artists on the Harvest label (a distinction shared in part with Pink Floyd) saw a great many collaborators in his musical life, including Syd Barrett and Mike Oldfield.

While The Harvest Years 1969-1974 includes Ayers’ first five solo records (including The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories, which was released by Island, not Harvest), it does not include every bonus track featured on expanded editions of these albums released by EMI in the mid-2000s. Many are included, however – all non-LP single sides and several rounds of BBC sessions (previously released on a non-EMI U.K. compilation in 2005) make up the bonus material.

The Trower box is available now; the Ayers box will be released April 26 in the U.K. and a week later as an import in the States. Both can be previewed after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 15, 2012 at 17:25