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Robin Trower is one of the great English grandmasters of the guitar. A musician and songwriter with a celestial blues sound and deep spiritual roots, he achieved star billing in the 1970s when he scored a string of Top 10 albums in America. Trower grew up in Southend-on-Sea, where as a teenager he formed The Paramounts with singer and pianist Gary Brooker. A band that straddled both the beat and blues booms of the 1960s, The Paramounts enjoyed an early minor hit single with Poison Ivy in 1963,

You didn’t have to be a guitarist to appreciate Robin Trower’s talent. In the mid 1970’s, Robin Trower released a string of albums that rivaled everything else being released in the rock god guitarist genre. Smoking solos, killer riffs and great tunes defined the Robin Trower sound.

Trower joined old classmate and bandmate Gary Brooker in his new band Procul Harum in 1967 replacing departing guitarist Ray Royer. Trower played on the band’s first five albums, including “Shine on Brightly,” and “A Salty Dog” But he had an epiphany after hearing Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight in August 1970 and left Procul Harum in 1971. After a short stint in Jude, a power trio with his future bass player and lead singer James Dewar, Trower formed the Robin Trower Band in 1973, with drummer Reg Isidore  (later Bill Lordan), and Dewar. After releasing “Twice Removed From Yesterday in 1973, Trower and the band hit the jackpot with a trio of Top 10 albums beginning with “Bridge of Sighs,” in 1974.

The title track was densely textured with a great opening riff that was a theme throughout the dark, ethereal song. “For Earth Below,” followed in 1975 and “Robin Trower Live,’ in 1976. Trower’s guitar work became more Hendrix-like over the years and the power trio gave him room to spread his wings in that direction. He closed out the 70s with the great “Caravan to Midnight,” (1978) with some powerful soloing on “My Love (Burning Love)” and “Fool.” In the early 1980s, Trower hooked up with Cream bassist Jack Bruce and his two former drummers Lordan and Isidore for two high powered albums “BLT,” (1981) and “Truce (1982).

These discs are well worth seeking out for the interplay between Bruce and Trower. Album sales began to flag after the 1983 release “Back it Up,” with Dewar returning to his lead vocal duties, and Trower was dropped from his label. But no matter, he had built up such a huge following that he has continued touring and recording to this day. Robin Trower is a titan – a guitar slinger extraordinaire.

 

Trower has nevertheless endured. Still writing and recording, he has always sought fresh horizons, and has just released and another new album, Time And Emotion. And he continues to tour, proudly showcasing a repertoire from the 1970s that runs like a thread of steel through the core of British blues-rock culture.

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Bridge Of Sighs – Chrysalis, 1974

Robin Trower’s breakthrough album, Bridge Of Sighs peaked at No.7 in the US and remains one of the pillars of his repertoire to this day. “Bridge of Sighs,” was a blockbuster album for Robin Trower. The album reached the top 10 album charts in 1973. Every track on the record was killer.

The song’s opening bass and drum groove sets in motion a monster rocking riff that is one for the ages, The dramatic time shift in the middle of the song set the way for another incredible Robin Trower guitar solo.

Beginning with the stuttering riff of Day Of The Eagle, the album combines urgency with gravitas. ‘A cold wind blows and gods look down in anger on this poor child,’ Dewar sings as the title track unfolds with a vast, slow momentum, like a planet drifting through the void. The song’s opening riff is classic Robin Trower. What separated Robin Trower from other rock guitarist like Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May, and so on was the way Trower used 9th’s and 11th’s in such a slick groove based way without shoving them down the listener’s throat. It was such brilliant playing.

Perhaps Trower’s most famous album is Bridge of Sighs (1974). This album remains one of the pillars of his repertoire to this day. Beginning with the stuttering riff of Day Of The Eagle, the album combines urgency with gravitas., along with his first and third solo albums, was produced by his former Procol Harum bandmate, organist Matthew Fisher. Lady Love is an irresistible, cowbell-grooved rocker and Too Rolling Stoned romps along until the incredible five-minute, one-bass-note run-out groove. Stoner blues‑rock redefined.

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For Earth Below – Chrysalis, 1975

With Matthew Fisher producing for the third time and Bill Lordan taking over on drums, this is the album where everything came together for Trower. Dewar is at his best on Fine Day and Gonna Be More Suspicious, while Lordan takes the band to a new level of rhythmic sophistication with the intricate cymbal figures and funky snare and hi-hat combinations of A Tale Untold and Confessin’ Midnight.

After the success of “Bridge of Sighs”, Robin Trower came roaring back one year later with another rocking blues infused album that was every bit as good as Bridge of Sighs. Robin Trower’s For Earth Below was even more successful than Bridge of Sighs as the record For Earth Below hit the number five-spot on the Billboard top 100 albums. “Confessin’ Midnight,” knocked listeners out with a heavy lick that resonated throughout the song and laid the groundwork for another blistering Robin Trower explosive guitar solo’s.

Trower’s songwriting and soloing takes the three musicians soaring across the musical cosmos, especially on the slow blues of the title track and the keening outro of A Tale Untold. Take a listen again to the standout track “Shame The Devil.” The killer album opener was simple proof that Robin Trower was on fire during the mid seventies.

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Long Misty Days – Chrysalis, 1976

Trower, Dewar and Lordan consolidated their magic touch with this bold and confident album. Emerging as a sure‑footed songwriting team, Trower and Dewar are co-credited on every song, apart from a gritty cover of the Sutherland Brothers’s epic singalong “Sailing”.

With its dense wash of overdriven guitar sound, the title track is testament to Trower’s skill as a manipulator of sonic textures. Delicate and graceful yet executed with crushing power, this sound influenced future generations of bands, from Hüsker Dü to Smashing Pumpkins. From the opening moments of this incredible piece of music, you know you’re in for something special. Robin Trower’s “Caledonia,” is among our favourite Robin Trower studio recording. The fast funky guitar riff that balances itself between Robin Trower’s solo guitar licks will make you want to buy every Robin Trower recording ever released. It’s that good and easily one of the best Robin Trower songs ever released on vinyl.

The Robin Trower song “Long Misty Days,” was the title track to Robin Trower’s fourth album. The record Long Misty Days was released in October of 1976. Of all the Robin Trower songs nestled in a slow blues groove, “Long Misty Days,” stand out among the best of them. This is a slow blues song, but there is this sublet driving force that fuels the groove into an arena of specter undiscovered by most artist. It’s what made Robin Trower so special.

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Twice Removed From Yesterday – Chrysalis, 1973

It may have been a pure coincidence that 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 Hendrix, together with a vocalist (Dewar) with an R&B timbre redolent of Paul Rodgers. Trower retained Dewar as his bassist, who took on lead vocals as well, and recruited drummer Reg Isidore (later replaced by Bill Lordan) to form the Robin Trower Band. Robin Trower’s “Sinner Song,” was released on his first solo album, Twice Removed From Yesterday.

The Robin Trower band was essentially a trio that consisted of Robin Trower on guitar, James Dewar on bass and lead vocals and Reg Isidore on drums. It could be argued that James Dewar might have been the most popular rock singer of the 1970’s that most people had never heard of. If you had never seen Robin Trower live, than you would have probably assumed that it was Robin Trower also handling the lead vocals. However, that was not the case and Dewar probably never got the recognition he deserved for the killer vocals tracks he recorded with the Robin Trower trio both in and out of the studio. Stevie Ray Vaughan had given much credit to Jimi Hendrix as inspiring so much of his playing. But if you are aware of both Robin Trower and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s catalogues, you can’t help but notice that Stevie Ray Vaughan was probably also listening to Trower.

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 Hannah, a reworking of BB King’s Rock Me Baby and the exquisite track Daydream.

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Robin Trower Live! – Chrysalis, 1976

Robin Trower Live would probably be among the top the list of live rock albums. Of there is The Rolling Stones Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, Foghat’s Foghat Live, Led Zeppelin’s soundtrack to The Song Remains The Same, Rush, All The World’s A Stage, Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s One More From The Road but the 1975 Live album that Robin Trower released was one of the most smoking guitar records ever issued. This one cranks past eleven. The airy opening to “Daydream,” is a bit reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” However, the song than takes on its own spellbinding groove that simply mesmerized the audience. The songs unbelievable second solo will drop your jaw and bend your knees.From the opening high-energy rip through Too Rolling Stoned to the dense thundercloud chords of I Can’t Wait Much Longer, this Stockholm recording concert recording captures the classic Trower trio at an early, elemental peak of power.

Along with fast, muscular run-throughs of Lady Love, Alethea and Little Bit Of Sympathy, the album boasts the definitive recorded version of Daydream, with Trower lovingly sculpting the individual notes like clay on a potter’s wheel, and then whipping them into clusters in a swirling blizzard of sound.

The guitar work on the live performance of “Little Bit Of Symphony,” and “Rock Me Baby,”  was just so outstanding that it made it impossible to pick between these two killer performances. Both live tracks were released on Robin Trower’s magnificent earth shattering, Robin Trower “Live” album. The Live album stemmed from a radio broadcast from a stadium show in Sweden in 1975. The band is as loose at they could get and the interplay between Robin Trower and bassist James Dewar is astonishing.

On “Rock Me Baby,” , Robin Trower sounds as if he is playing lead guitar through the entire track. We would say this is Robin Trower’s peak moment, but the man has continued to perform and record brilliantly 40 years onward. However, if you’re looking to buy only one Robin Trower CD or at east looking for a place to star, we highly recommend Robin Trower Live.

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B.L.T. – Chrysalis, 1981

This was the first of many occasions when Trower teamed up with ex-Cream legend Jack Bruce. Their collaborations always produced something thoughtful and off the beaten path. With Bill Lordan on drums, the three-way musical interplay on Into Money and What It Is is strong, supple and undeniably funky.

Bruce applies his Glasgow bawl to tunes and lyrics mostly written by Trower and Keith Reid. No Island Lost has a Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) vibe, while Life On Earth recalls some vintage Cream moves. One of the great overlooked power trio albums.

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20th Century Blues – V-12, 1994

After a period of extended line-ups in the 1980s, Trower returned to the trio format with Livingstone Brown (vocals/bass) and Clive Mayuyu (drums), and got back to basics with 20th Century Blues, the first album released on his own V-12 label.

Brown’s voice and bass are modestly positioned in the mix, but he provides a solid backbone for Trower’s immense guitar excursions on songs such as Extermination Blues and Lowell Fulson’s Reconsider Baby. The rhythm section gets funky on Prisoner Of Blues while Trower plays some Shaft-style wah-wah.

A portrait of Robin Trower

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