Wikipedia: “Robin Trower was born in Catford, London, England, but grew up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. In 1962, he formed a group that became The Paramounts, later including Westcliff High School pupil Gary Brooker.
The Paramounts disbanded in 1966 to pursue individual projects. During this time, Trower created a local three-piece band called the Jam (not to be confused with the later group with Paul Weller). Trower then joined Brooker’s new band Procol Harum following the success of their debut single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in 1967, remaining with them until 1971 and appearing on the group’s first five albums.”
I’m sometimes amazed that Trower made it that long. In the Seventies, he became well-known as an ace Hendrix-inspired blues guitarist with a band that carried his name. His ability to play in that style was severely cramped in Procol Harum and it wasn’t until some of their early Seventies albums that he could really stretch out.
But stretch out he did and the musical world is a better place for it. I started thinking about him as I’ve been learning (or re-learning) to play some of his tunes. He is so good that no less a personage than Robert Fripp praised him and took lessons from him.
Most of us became aware of Robin when he released his great1974 album Bridge of Sighs. (Produced by Procol Harum bandmate Matthew Fisher.)
From that album, the tremendously kick-ass “Day of the Eagle”:
Robin tours fairly frequently and I saw him (first and only time) a couple of years ago and wrote about it here. I got in a discussion/argument with a guitarist who told me he had “studied” Trower and that he was not heavily influenced by Hendrix. Wrong.
Here’s “Bridge of Sighs.”
When last I wrote about Trower, fellow blogger Cincinnati Babyhead reminded me that Trower had teamed up with Jack Bruce and his drummer to form B.L.T aka “Cream2.” (My words, not his.) Everything sounds better with Jack Bruce singing it (not to mention playing bass). Here’s “Into Money”:
Trower has described James Brown as his “big hero”, particularly Brown’s early work “where blues is crossing over into rock and roll.” Interesting ‘coz I really don’t hear it.
Here’s what I’ve been learning to play lately, “Too Rolling Stoned.” I love how it churns the fuck along and then winds up in a slow blues. I could listen to this shit all day long”
Let me throw two more tunes at ya. This one is called “Caledonia” and not it is not the B.B King “What makes your big head so hard” tune.
While Trower still tours and releases, clearly his heyday was a number of years ago. He actually has released (or will be releasing) an album this year called United State of Mind a singer named Maxi Priest. I listened to a little bit of it and while it was kinda funky, it’s not what I come to Trower for. But I’ll try to give it another spin with an open mind.
In the meantime, enjoy “Messin’ the Blues.”
As a bonus, I will throw in Procol Harum’s great “Whiskey Train.” I cannot find this up on Spotify so hopefully can hear this ok. This was our first hint of what Trower might be up to in later years: