If I told you guitar player, musician, producer, songwriter and solo artist Robin George has played with, produced for, or wrote with the likes of former Uriah Heep vocalist David Byron, Roy Wood ex-The Move/ Wizard /ELO. He produced Diamond Head, Quartz and Witchfinder General’s ‘Friends of Hell’ LP. Robin engineered a couple of singles for Tony Clarkin of Magnum which led to him joining Magnum for their highly successful 11th Hour tour of the UK.
Remember Wrathchild’s Stakk Attack? He produced that. In the middle of all that he also managed to release his acclaimed debut album ‘Dangerous Music’ in 1985. This iconic album featured, amongst others, Dave Holland from Judas Priest, Mark Stanway from Magnum and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. The groundbreaking single ‘Heartline’, taken from the album charted worldwide. Robin’s touring band in 1985 was called Dangerous Music and featured ex Magnum drummer Kex Gorin, ex Wildlife bassist, Phil Soussan (later with Ozzy Osbourn), and keyboard player Alan Nelson. The band’s first live gig was Radio One’s In Concert recorded at the BBC’s famous Paris Studios, opening for Phil Lynott’s ‘Grand Slam’. During the Dangerous Music tour Robin guested live with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Simon Kerr (Free, Bad Company), Brian May (Queen) and The Who’s John Entwistle. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Production and writing work with Glenn Hughes followed, which resulted in the song ‘Haunted’ being featured in the film ‘Highlander2’. Robin next played several club dates with Asia; vocalist/bassist John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Phil Manzanera and Don Airey. Asia asked Robin to join the band but other work commitments prevented him from doing so. He was soon back touring though, as Robin George’s World. He also began working with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant; both recording and song writing. Robin’s song ‘Red for Danger’ appears on Robert Plant’s Sixty-six to Timbuktu album. Remember the ‘Waysted’ album, he co-produced that, and then toured it with Pete Way. I would hope you would agree with me that he is a man of many talents.
His latest release is called ‘History’, and is the complete 14 track album recorded from 1979 to 1981 at The Old Smithy, Worcester, mostly at night when the studio was empty. This is different to the original release, called “The History” as that was a six track 12″ EP released by Arista back in 1983. The full LP never saw the light of day as Robin’s record label, Bronze was going bust at the time, and so the master tapes have remained in the vaults up until recently, before Robin got hold of them, transferred and re-mastered them for the digital age.
This album is firmly rooted in the past, early 1980’s to be precise: if you took the musical arrangements Prince made before he became a symbol, the pop/rock grandeur of Tears For Fears and the very British Synth Pop sound from bands such as The Human League and Visage, and mixed that in with the harmonies Hall and Oates are famous for, you may get were Robin is coming from on ‘History’.
However, even then he isn’t satisfied and is not afraid to take chances, as there´s even reggae rhythms featured on the track “Too Late”, and a glorious Sax from Mel Collins that lifts “Too Late” and “Run In The Dark”.
Having bought the ‘Dangerous Music’ all those years ago, just for the single “Heartline” I am pleased that the original version of it is on here, but it is a totally different beast, far more pop then rock. “Heartline” fits in perfectly with the rest of the songs though; in fact it isn’t even the best song on this album. This and the ‘Dangerous Music’ version, both stand the test off time, and that can only be put down to the quality of the song, regardless of which production value is added later, a great song will always shine through, and this is what “Heartline” does.
‘Showdown’ features the late great Phil Lynott on bass, while other tracks have guests including Magnum’s Mark Stanway on keyboards and Terry Rowley playing the Hammond organ.
The pure American AOR sounding track “She Really Blew My Mind” shows the power in George’s songwriting and guitar playing skills.
‘Daylight’ for me is the standout track on here, clocking in at a little under seven minutes, it could be called a mini rock opera with all the complex progressions and time changes.
Another stand out track ‘Castles in the Sky’ features some hauntingly beautiful guitar rhythms.While elsewhere, ‘Go Down Fighting’ was later covered by Ted Nugent
The inclusion of an instrumental is always a gamble, but on ‘Charlotte’s Starlight’ Robin has created such a powerful song, that it really does not need lyrics, a stunning instrumental which showcases Robins take on Classical music.
Running deep through the heart of every song is Robin’s gorgeous guitar work. You can tell it is Robin, I think his playing adds more to this album than his voice does, being able to play in such a soulful manner adds another dimension to an already complex multi-layered recording.
While the whole album does suffer from a slightly dated 80′s sound, the production has not been overtly engineered for the modern age, and stays firmly in the 80’s soundscape, it seems to have been enhanced rather than remastered, and quite frankly sounds all the better for it.
The whole album provides a fascinating insight into the beginnings of Robin George’s career, it is just a pity it has taken this long for people to finally get to hear it.
02 Too Late
04 Go Down Fighting
06 She Really Blew My Mind
07 Run in the Dark
09 Get On Your Knees
10 Castles in the Sky
11 This Time
12 Tonight Was Meant to Be
13 All My Life
14 Charlotte Starlight
Out now on Angel Air/Border records.