Robin Trower, Ian Moore
Under the gray skies of post-World War II England, the guitar gods of rock entered the world. Within the slim span of five years, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Martin Barre, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Tony Iommi, and Robin Trower all fell through a rip in the spacetime continuum and landed on a green island in the North Atlantic. The latter proved lucky, boasting a record collector friend who imported records from America and exposed him to “a great music, a heavy music, a beautiful music.”
“Ninety percent, if not all of those guys, were inspired by American music,” affirms Trower, 74. “You can’t underestimate the effect James Brown Live at the Apollo had on musicians in Britain.”
That explains a funk streak throughout the guitarist’s work, bubbling under during his tenure in Procol Harum and emerging fully formed on Trower’s second solo release, 1974’s Top 10 hit Bridge of Sighs. From headlining stadiums in the Seventies to the fallow Eighties when radio turned away from the grandeur of his sound, the Stratocaster loyalist has stayed the course. Constantly evolving and serving as a guardian of the blues, he quietly influenced generations of guitarists, including myself. Even Sabbath worshippers Goatsnake titled a track “Trower” on their debut.
Latest release Coming Closer to the Day is a stripped down and unflinching look at his own mortality.
“I’m starting to realize I’m closer to the end than the beginning, which seems like a really obvious thing to say,” he laughs. “It’s about coming closer to the day, you know.”
His voice trails off. With lyrics like, “Nothing of myself I want to keep/ Living with the memory of a flame of fractured life,” Trower’s making his most personal musical statements right now. Then there’s the guitar playing.
File it under a heavy, beautiful music.– Mark Deutrom