Robin Trower: From Pale Rider To Blues Brother
In 2006, Classic Rock talked to Robin Trower about his lengthy career, from pop success with Procol Harum to Hendrix clone claims and solo success and respect
It’s been quite a few years since the ‘broken nosed guitar hero from Southend’ (© Sounds music weekly) blazed his trail, topping the US album chart and selling out stadiums with his dynamic trio, the inventively named Robin Trower Band. At the time, the critics were divided. Some thought Trower was nothing more than a Hendrix rip-off playing fuzzy, bombastic downer rock for the anaesthetised masses. Others recognised that behind the Marshall-heavy riffs there was a real talent, producing exciting and original music, exploring the outer limits of his instrument.
Trower’s Bridge Of Sighs (1974) still remains one of the finest guitar albums of all time: crammed with sublime, tempered playing and the honey-sweet vocals of the late, great Jimmy Dewar; full of gorgeous harmonic changes, brooding intensity and dramatic moods. Unlike albums by many a guitar hero with admirable technique but no direct line to a songwriting muse, it is not a relentless barrage of guitar solos, but a selection of memorable songs – the muscular Day Of The Eagle, the smouldering In This Place, the groove of Too Rolling Stoned – that showcase beautifully the diverse, expansive talent of the group.
It was a breakthrough album and a pinnacle in the guitarist’s career, which they and he never equalled in terms of success and sales. But there’s a lot more to Trower’s career than that record.
“The material on Bridge Of Sighs is very strong,” he agrees. “The combination of beautiful vocals and raw guitar is what sold it. But it certainly wasn’t the beginning and end of the story.”
These days looking dapper and relaxed, Trower generally has the air of someone completely comfortable in their own skin, rather than exuding the air of a bitter and twisted forgotten hero. He does, however, admit that “there have been some tough times in the past. At the height of our success I was badly let down by the management and record company. And today I don’t make any money from some of my most successful songs. But you have to move on. You cannot let that strangle your creativity.”