Something’s about to change
Like so many of his peers who also broke their first guitar strings in the dance halls of the early 1960’s ROBIN TROWER looks upon age as just another number.
Talking to me a few days after his 70th birthday, Robin has his new album ‘SOMETHING’S ABOUT TO CHANGE’ released this month ahead of a 16-date UK Tour beginning at The Engine Shed, Lincoln, on March 26, and the final show at The Stables, Milton Keynes, on April 17.
He was as enthusiastic as ever about both. His musical journey began in Southend-On-Sea when he formed The Paramounts with Gary Brooker, which also featured B J Wilson and Chris Copping playing rock’n’roll and R&B covers.
Having a minor hit with ‘Poison Ivy’ in 1964, disbanding in 1966, he rejoined Brooker in Procol Harum in 1967, after they had charted worldwide with ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’. Wilson and Copping would rejoin him there at different stages over the next few years.
Robin left Procol in 1971 after recording his fifth album, ‘Broken Barricades’, to pursue a new career. After a brief unproductive spell with ‘Jude’, he formed The Robin Trower Band in 1973, recording ‘Twice Removed From Yesterday’ a debut album that would be the first of five successive Gold Album Awards for the band, including the legendary ‘Bridge Of Sighs’.
‘Something’s About To Change’ is Robin’s 20th studio album, and he has also released a number of live albums, recorded three studio and one live with Jack Bruce, who returned to Procol Harum for two in the nineties, each one pushing himself and his guitar beyond any preconceived boundaries he may have set himself.
As my review in last month’s Beat revealed, his latest offering continues that quest.
I’ve listened to ‘Something’s About To Change’, played it back to back three times, totally hook-ed from first note to the last. ‘Well, thank you, I’m glad you like it.’
What were your thoughts when you recorded the album?
‘I had it in my mind that I was definitely going to try and achieve what I felt with the material, and I was just going to work until I got to the place with the songs, the music and the playing I was really happy with it. The writing of it was just coming out with songs that I felt deeply about, the lyrics a lot of them were really personal to me, which is why I thought it was best that I sang them, and that’s about it really, it didn’t take a lot of recording time but there was quite a bit of preparation on my behalf.’
One of the things that makes it sound so good to me is that the end product sounds like a very basic, not over-produced record, but it’s obviously the result of a lot of work. The initial note on the opening track sets the tone for the whole album.
‘That’s what you hope for, a good track to kick off the whole album, but also an overview so that the whole lot hangs together. When I was writing and recording it I was very happy with the musical area that I was in, and that’s why I, sort of, pushed myself to write the music that was in that space.’
In my review in last month’s Beat, I wrote: ‘it’s hard to believe you’re not listening to a weather beaten black guitarist from the Deep South’. ‘That’s a great compliment, I must say.’
You were obviously influenced by Hendrix around the time you went solo.
‘I was, and I think I still carry a heavy influence of him in everything I do, and a few others, B. B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, they’re all great bluesmen that influenced me.’
I loved all of your first albums, especially ‘Bridge Of Sighs’, and ‘Caravan To Midnight’ but I think my favourite has to be ‘Victims Of The Fury’ because James Dewar’s vocals are just outstanding.
‘Really, I agree James was amazing, he was one of the greats.’
Is there any unreleased stuff in the archives to boost deluxe editions, etc?
No, only tracks for the next album, we only did enough stuff for each album, put it out and got on with the next one.’
You spend a lot of your time in The States now.
‘No, only when I’m touring, I lived there for awhile in the seventies but I didn’t really take to it, so I’ve lived back in England ever since.’
You did the Paramounts reunion gig a few years back in Southend.
‘Yes, we had a great night; I really enjoyed it playing all of those old rock’n’roll and R&B songs I hadn’t played for years, I’m really glad I did it.’
You’re about to start your UK tour at the end of the month, what can we expect to hear?
‘Well, I’ll be doing a cross section of stuff, the most popular songs are from the first three albums, obviously, which will be about a third to half of the set spread across the evening amid the newer stuff, there’ll be a couple off the new album, ‘Somebody Calling’ off ‘In City Dreams’, but I always make sure I put in the most popular stuff.’
The credit on the advance copy of the album only lists Chris Taggart as being with you: will he be with you on the tour?
‘Yes, I also had Luke Smith upon keyboards, but apart from that it was just me and Chris. For the tour it will be Richard Watts, bass and vocals, who is a dynamite singer and bass player, and Chris on drums, just the three of us.’
Is there any chance of an autobiography?
‘No, my life hasn’t been interesting enough. I may put out a chapter somewhere, but my autobiography is in my albums, and that’s it’.
Robin lives for his music, a man of few words who prefers to use his guitar to express himself, which he does to perfection.
‘Something’s About To Change’ is now available, and full information about the tour can be found at www.thegigcartel.com and Robin’s website
www.trowerpower.com ; is well worth a visit.
Jim Stewart 2015