It is one of life's tragic ironies that Tim Rose should pass away (in September, 2002), little more than a year after he launched what was surely one of the most eagerly anticipated comebacks of the new millennium. Having quietly dominated the Anglo-American singer/songwriter scene of the late 1960s (before a plethora of better-known vapidities arrived to utterly disgrace that particular genre); having gifted rock with "Morning Dew," still one of its all-time anthems, Rose had spent much of the past two decades-plus in near-obscurity, gigging sporadically, recording rarely, and never raising his head above the commercial parapet. Every so often he'd be spotted playing at a London pub (he'd been living in that city since 1978) and the occasional superstar sponsor would discuss returning him to prominence. But it was early 2002 before he finally released a new album, American Son, and less than 12 months more before his final recordings were posthumously released as Snowed In. Then came the very sensibly titled London Sessions: 1979-1998, to let us in on how he warmed up for both. A collection of songs and demos recorded with producer Pierre Tubbs, the album is a somewhat scattershot, but never less than a heartwarming trawl through 20 years of unreleased music. Only three new Rose compositions are included, although "It's All Gone Wrong," "Borocay," and "The Answer" all prove that Rose never lost his taste for great songs, even if he was no longer interested in the fame that accompanied them. Other cuts find him looking back at his past -- a new version of "Hey Joe" improves and improvises around a song he first recorded back in 1967, on his eponymous debut album; a cover of the Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke" allows him to follow up, finally, the version of "I've Just Got to Get a Message to You" he cut in the early 1970s. Of course, the brevity of the album is disorienting. With just 12 tracks, London Sessions can only hint at all Rose recorded during those 20 years. But still it is a remarkable collection, and a welcome one, as well.
The London Sessions 1978-1998 Review
by Dave Thompson