Jimi Hendrix may have catapulted the guitar into a different stratosphere, but Robin Trower can certainly lay claim to a body of work that deserves to be heard on another planet. At the psychedelic heights of his 70’s power trio heyday, Trower (along with drummer Reg Isidore and incomparable vocalist and bassist Jimmy Dewar) produced a hat-trick of albums to rival any three-piece outfit, from Hendrix and ZZ Top, to the prototypical blues-rock power trio – Cream.
With a career spanning more than six decades, Trower has been there, done it, and got the gig-soaked t-shirt. As well as being the driving force behind Procol Harum’s success, he’s even collaborated with Cream maestro Jack Bruce, and ventured down the psychedelic-reggae-pop route with Livingstone Brown and Maxi Priest.
Now an established and prized part of the British blues-rock furniture, Trower plays with the freedom, poise, and prowess of a man who has No Worlds Left To Conquer.
This time around, Trower decided to step down from vocal duty and let his guitar do the wailing, just like on the ballsy yet bluesy opening track “Ball Of Fire”. The killer Strat tone is to die for, while longtime band member Richard Watts is a revelation with his raspy, sultry voice.
The mystical title track keeps the wagon chugging along the world-class line. Trower drenches the listener with more mesmerizing bluesy phrasing and slow-burn wah squalls. “Deadly Kiss” cements that in the gravel-voiced Watts, Trower has found a kindred spirit and one that has supplanted him in the vocal department.
The biggest compliment I can pay Watts is that he doesn’t just do justice to his predecessors (including the late, great Dewar), but he takes this 11-song LP into orbit, which is an incredible feat given the virtuoso guitar work on show here.
No matter what part of the cosmos you’re in, this is vintage Trower. The bends, like his revered vibrato, are executed perfectly on pitch and rhythm. Like every great six-stringer, his sound is unmistakably his own – he’s refreshingly inventive and carves out musical emotion in abundance. Just nest up alongside the shimmering “Birdsong” in what might be the album’s peak with its atmospheric feel and haunting harmonies.
“Waiting For The Rain To Fall” evokes the magic of water descending from the sky. It’s a masterclass in both melody and the use of restraint. There’s even time for some political clout on the funky and danceable “Clouds Across The Sun”, as well as “The Razor’s Edge”, with Trower, Watts, and sticksman Chris Taggart ramping up the blues-rock heat in evident vexation. These two prophetic numbers reflect the current state of the world we’re in, but that still isn’t enough to detract from the lead work that’s gloriously raunchy and on the money.
At 77 years of age, Trower is a phenomenon that still carries the torch of that 70’s texture and heavenly tone. He continues to dazzle and evolve, but there’s never any let-up in quality control.
To quote a famous lyric from the man that Trower inevitably draws comparisons to “If I don’t meet you no more in this world, Then I’ll meet you in the next one. And don’t be late”.
Trust me, if the music is as good as this in the next realm, I for one will be arriving early (just to avoid the queues). Simply out of this world.
The Review: 9.5 /10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Ball Of Fire
– No More Worlds To Conquer
– Waiting For The Rain To Fall
– Fire To Ashes
The Big Hit
Buy the album: Amazon