Robin Trower

ARTICLE ABOUT Jack Bruce FROM New Musical Express, January 24, 1970

One of the greatest bass guitarists of all time is worthy of an article or two on this blog. Nick Logan did almost all of those important interviews at the start of the 70s in NME – I guess he had a nose for picking up on the artist that would continue to be relevant for us even today.
Read on!

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Jack Bruce and friends: `In it for the music`

By Nick Logan

SINCE his excellent “Songs For A Tailor” album gently insinuated its way into a goodly number of discerning heads Jack Bruce has kept aside from the excesses of the publicity machine to quietly pursue his musical ideals. Where others have gone rushing in and struggled to regain themselves, the canny and talented Scot has hung cleverly back.
This weekend it’s Jack’s turn, as the last of the illustrious Cream to return “live”, to step back into the limelight.
His band Jack Bruce and Friends make their bow before home Crowds at Lanchester Arts Festival, Coventry, tomorrow (Saturday) and at London’s Lyceum on Sunday, before taking on a month-long U.S. tour from the end of January.
American “Friends” Larry Coryell and Mike Mandel were flying in that evening to join him and English “Friend”, Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, when I met Jack on Friday at his manager’s Mayfair office.
“One thing it won’t be is me with a backing group” he was anxious to make clear.
“Although the material will be mostly mine, the group will be very free. Some of the songs will be done straight because they are songs as complete entities, but others I have written are intended as just jumping off points for improvisation.”

Fluency

Texas-born Coryell, promises Jack, will be a relevation to British audiences “because of his style and fluency on guitar.
“His style is as fluid as Eric’s (Clapton); and on his own scene he is as great as Eric.”
Jack first met Coryell briefly when his band and the Cream played together at the Fillmore East in 1966. Then, soon after the Cream split, the American phoned Jack at his London home to express his admiration for his work and ask if they could play together.
The admiration was reciprocal and a few months back Jack flew to the States to play as a member of Coryell’s band in New York.
Also in the group was organist Mike Mandel, a blind musician now a student of music theory in Boston who in his time has played in bands with early rock stars such as Bobby Vee, Gene Vincent and Freddie Cannon.
As for the home-grown Friend, Jack says “Mitch is someone I have wanted to play with for a long time. We had a few jams together when he was with Hendrix and I’ve always dug his playing. He is very solid like a rock drummer should be but he also has the looseness of a jazz drummer.
“It’s really working out well with him because he loves Larry’s playing as much as I do and Larry loves his drumming.”
Mitch has been staying with Jack at his house in London’s Primrose Hill where the rest of the band, with wives and children, would also be putting up for the duration.
They had seven days to rehearse. Was it sufficient?
With your average musician it wouldn’t be,” he replied laconically, “but with the calibre of these guys it is enough.”
Although he hasn’t performed his own songs on stage for over a year — since the end of the Cream in fact — Jack has kept his hand in by quietly making guest appearances with various outfits.
He’d done the London School of Economics the previous evening with the Mike Gibbs Orchestra (with whom he’s also cut an album) and three months ago did a concert with Gibbs at Lanchester University which has since become something of a legend in Coventry.
So he wasn’t worried about being a bit rusty? “No — the only thing I may lack is the stamina… to get adjusted to the physical side of touring again.
“When you’re a bass player and you’re not playing your fingers get very soft. Mine have. Also my voice hasn’t been used to singing very loud but I’m looking forward to it very much.”
Unlike Air Force and apparently Blind Faith, Jack intends to make his band a fairly permanent one.
“We all hope it will continue after the tour and be permanent enough for us all to do separate things but get together for tours and records. Personally I’d like to spend three quarter of my time with this band and the rest doing other things.”
At the end of the U.S. tour they have two weeks before going their separate ways for a time, and during this period Jack plans to record his next album at Atlantic’s studios in Florida.

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Difficulties

“I may add horns and strings for some numbers but it will basically be this band.” He says he has enough self-penned material for two albums, although contractual difficulties would have to be sorted out.
In Spring, possibly April, Jack hopes to bring the Friends together again for a European tour taking in Britain.
In the meantime, he and his music from “Songs For A Tailor” will be featured in the BBC Omnibus slot on February 1st through Tony Palmer’s “Rode Ladder To The Moon” documentary. The title is a track from the album.
Since “Tailor”, Jack has been devoting as much time as he can to the Scottish island he bought in November for £30,000. He’s bought a boat to carry him the three miles from the mainland but is also taking flying lessons to ease the journey from Primrose Hill.
“I’d like to build a landing strip so I can fly directly from London” he says ambitiously.
He and his wife Janet have been slowly decorating the farmhouse and he’s looking for a manager to care for the farm on the island and the 1,000 sheep he plans to install on it in the coming year.
It is a life obviously dear to his heart.
Back on the subject of music, he says he has watched with interest the influence of jazz on rock and vice versa.
“There are bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago who are good in their way, although they don’t move me. They’re too precise; I like things a little unpredictable. That has been one trend.

Enjoyable

“But I think a far more interesting one is jazz musicians becoming interested in rock, like Miles Davis, and it is making their music for me more exciting and enjoyable.
“If you are a musician your thing is to communicate with an audience and I think in jazz and classical music in the past the composers and performers haven’t been interested in anything except their egos. They certainly haven’t gone out of their way to meet an audience.
“The great thing about rock is that it is the music of the masses. You haven’t got any right to play for your own head.”
And, as a pioneer of improving standards in rock, he has this to say: “When I started playing on this scene there were two groups… Alexis Korner and the Rolling Stones. Then Manfred Mann came along and there were three. Now there are hundreds and I don’t think there can be any doubt that musical standards have gone up all the time.”
And finally back on the tour, he adds earnestly: “This band is really just for the music. That is truthfully all there is in it.
“The tour of the U.S. hasn’t been planned on a money-making basis because we have no wish to do huge places like Madison Square Gardens.
“It will be nice to go back to places like the Fillmore because you cannot really communicate with a large number of people. My days with Cream taught me that.”

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If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

ARTICLE ABOUT Robin Trower (Procol Harum) FROM New Musical Express, November 4, 1967

Trower is a very interesting musician in many ways. He has recorded albums all of his life and released his latest in 2019. He doesn`t get a lot of love in this article but it was in 1967 his career as a recording artist was started.
Read on!

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Spotlight on Robin Trower

By Francis Gaye

Robin Trower has a face like a punchy boxer who stepped into the ring once too often. His friend, Barry Wilson doesn`t like his nose! But Robin`s is a good-humoured face and like Robin`s career it`s taken a few knocks in its time.
Despite all Robin is a bright, interesting character whose voice is raw and unpolished belying the good sense he talks. He admits to being an introvert, is shy about pushing forward an opinion but welcomes the opportunity to talk for himself.
For the first time in his life Robin is making good money regularly. But he doesn’t, and never has, worried about filthy lucre. “I’ve only worried about it if I haven’t had enough to buy food. I’ve been pretty well off occasionally and generally fairly comfortable. But I starved once or twice in the odd days.
“That was due to bad managements not giving us our money. I’ve been conned many, many times and I’m even a little scared nowadays. When you’ve been conned a few times you get wary. Although we’ve got a good organisation now, sometimes when things go a little wrong, the memory of the old days comes back and I worry.
“Once it’s been done to you you never trust anybody completely again. It’s a lesson you learn and you never forget.”
Cynical perhaps. Realistic certainly. But Robin’s an old pro. He’s never done, or even considered, anything but music. “The only time I did anything that wasn’t in pop was when I did nothing after the Paramounts broke up. I just sat around getting myself together, trying to find where I was going.

Just wrong

“The set up at the end of the Paramounts was just so wrong I had to get out, then get away and think for a time. I’ve always known I would make it. If I didn’t believe this I couldn’t go on. Look, five and six years ago we were playing James Brown stuff and before the Beatles came out we were doing all that gear, it broke big and we just got left behind. I’m 22 and I’ve been playing since I was 14. I’ve been a full time musician since I left school.
“Then I formed a three-piece group to play the stuff I was writing. It was like Hendrix in format, but my music is nothing like his, and I thought that at last I was going to get somewhere.
“I called Barry Wilson and three days later Gary Brooker called me. Being a blues guitarist I didn’t think I’d fit into Procol Harum but, like Barry, as soon as I heard what they were putting down I knew we were right for each other.”
Obviously Robin was happy with the Procols. What do they think of him? Barry Wilson, old friend and hyper-critical adviser tends to see him less as a person than a musician and says: ” He’s the finest guitarist in the country, in his own style. He’s completely original, completely sincere in everything he plays.”
If this sounds like a rather sickening mutual admiration society it wasn’t intended that way. It’s just an assessment built up from years of working together. “And as a person he`s the same, completely honest, sincere.”

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Looks long

Robin is also a cool character. He doesn’t get visibly upset, he looks hard and long before he makes up his mind about a situation or a person. He seldom blows his cool. If somebody upsets him he doesn’t shout or scream, he mentally shrugs and figures that he’ll probably never see the person again so why bother getting involved?
He doesn’t go to people to make friends, if they want him they come to him. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, nor does he make friends easily. He doesn’t court popularity.
Barry and Robin are seen as a pair. They complement each other. “It’s because he’s the drummer and I’m the guitarist and we’re doing much the same job in laying down the beat,” says Robin. Almost everything he says that concerns people and relationships is translated into the context of the group. He gives the impression that all else is secondary to the group, its music and his role within that whole.
“But Barry and I don’t have a lot to do with each other outside the group,” he explained. “Once the gig, practise or interview has finished the group go their separate ways.” Robin likes it that way, he reckons you can get too involved and that’s bad. “We don’t go out together. We have to be ourselves, as our private lives are getting smaller all the time. That’s part of success.
“I enjoy success inasmuch as I’m now in a position to play to people that I respect and that is what success means to me.”
Robin says something as a pure statement of fact which others would interpret as gross conceit. For instance:
“I always felt that I would be a great guitarist.” Bald, matter of fact, but to him a self-evident truth. After all, it’s what he’s been working toward for so long and his own faith in himself has, he feels, been vindicated within the scope of Procol Harum. He’ll feel that he’s living up to his own high standards as long “as I blow our manager Keith Reid’s mind every time I play! As long as he digs what I play I’ll be happy.”
Occasionally he realises that what he says could be misinterpreted. “I don’t want to sound big-headed. Although I like a lot of people and what they do, I don’t dig them, so they don’t mean that much to me.” In other words he acknowledges other people’s work and its importance but he doesn’t always follow the ecstatic eulogies bestowed on it by the Press, public and “business.” He forms his own conclusions with reference to his work and tastes.
Robin is a loner. He says: ” I try not to meet people outside my own circle.” And it’s a small circle.
One feels that he’s got his own scene together, that he is intimately involved in it and that what others say, do or think doesn’t concern him. He admits that he has a superiority complex, but he concedes it with a quiet grin. He says that he doesn’t think about himself that much and that he only thinks about others when they affect him. A strange paradox!
Robin Trower is one of the most difficult people I’ve ever interviewed. It’s almost impossible to get under his skin. He doesn’t laugh a lot, doesn’t gag. He takes things seriously and he certainly takes Robin Trower seriously. But he is NOT a vain or conceited person. He’s just very aware of what he’s got to do and how he’s got to do it.
He’s a challenge to talk to, he’s diffident, disinterested in the wider scope of life outside what he’s involved in and obstinately single-minded. An easy person to like for his honesty, a difficult person to know for his own protective shield.
A musician’s musician and a musician’s person. Happiest in his own company or in the company of those he knows, likes and, as far as he’ll let himself, trusts.
Robin Trower is the enigmatic member of the Procol Harum.

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If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Robin Trower FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 22, 1975

If you never heard anything from this artist before, then I recommend that you immediately check out his album “Bridge Of Sighs” and start with my favourite song “Day Of The Eagle”; you can find it here: YouTube
The vocalist on that album, Jim Dewar (RIP), had that classic, bluesy rock`n`roll voice made for this kind of music and Trower really shows what he is capable of on a guitar, and he is VERY capable.
Enjoy!

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Is this man the greatest rock guitarist in the world?

ROBIN TROWER says Yes

STEVE CLARKE says Hmm…

Conversation overheard between Chrysalis`s Head Of Creative Services and interested party back-stage at Manchester`s Free Trade Hall a week last Monday:
“There were 15 stretcher-cases last night,” says the gentlemen from Chrysalis.
“What…dope?” inquires the interested party.
“No. Enthusiasm,” declares the record-company exec. proudly.

Chrysalis haven`t known anything like it since Jethro Tull, and two of their top men, Chris Wright and Doug Darsey, have caught the train up to Manchester to witness the breaking of Robin Trower in his own backyard.
The above conversation referred to the group`s gig at Liverpool Stadium, where 300 Trower afficionados had to be turned away. London Theatre Bookings are trying to put in a third London Trower gig owing to unexpected demand, and in less than a week “For Earth Below”, the new Trower elpee, has sold some 11,000 copies over here.
They, the people, started eating up Trower albums in America around a year ago, to the extent where Trower`s second album, “Bridge Of Sighs”, notched up enough sales to win a gold album.
Consequently the broken-nosed guitarist from Southend, plus band, spent the majority of their time touring the USA; his current British tour, where ticket prices range from a ludicrously low 65p to an ever-so-modest quid, are the band`s first UK dates for nigh on 18 months, when they supported Nazareth.

Since those gigs there`s been a line-up change whereby a tall blond Yank called Bill Lordan has replaced Reg Isidore in Trower`s drum-seat. Lordan`s considered something of a wonder-boy, and although he never actually got to gig with Hendrix, he and supremo bassist Willie Weeks did rehearse a bit with him with the view to forming a band. But Hendrix couldn`t tear himself away from Billy Cox, and Lordan didn`t want to split from Weeks. Hendrix, so Lordan tells it, did, however, try to get hold of Lordan for Woodstock but couldn`t lay his hands on the drummer`s phone number.
Lordan was also associated with Sly Stone, with whom he cut two albums; “Small Talk”, and Sly`s next in line, which at the time of recording was called “Snitchin`”. He also played 151 live gigs, and six TV shows with Sly. Trower himself just can`t praise the drummer enough.
Otherwise the line-up`s the same as before, with Jim Dewar, a scot, completing the three-piece. Dewar was largely responsible for starting up Stone The Crows, and since then he`s spent his time entirely with Trower.

Jim Dewar always looks as though things are going bad, whether he`s wrapped up in Ian Fleming`s “The Man With The Golden Gun” en route for Newcastle, (the gig after Manchester), or up on stage laying down clean bass lines that make the edge of your seat vibrate.
Only occasionally does he allow a whisper of a smile to cross his weathered visage. That is unless he`s been drinking, and apparently the rest of the band ensure that he doesn`t get to the bottle before a gig. Like Trower himself, Dewar drinks orange juice on stage.
Even now, as he and the rest of the group tuck into what is allegedly the best French cuisine served in Manchester, Dewar doesn`t look exactly enchanted by life in general.
He and the rest of the band have two things in common; white sheep-skin coats, and music. They`re all 100 per cent musicians. The table conversation turns to the prospect of ligging it up in Slack Alice`s, George Best`s Manchester night-spot, but Trower, who`s just about into his second half pint of lager and lime, prefers to go back to his hotel room and listen to the tapes of the evening`s gig.

“I get more of a buzz out of that than anything else,” he says. And a few hours later Trower, Lordan, and Dewar are up in the guitarist`s room listening to the play-back. (By the way the French nosh cost a cool £160 for some 16 people which was enough for even Chris Wright`s inscrutable face to show some signs of expression, as well as being an indication that the band are doing good business).
Every gig is taped; the recording the band are listening to was recorded near Lordan`s stage-monitor and emphasises the total rapport between guitarist and drummer.
“Some things I haven`t even started to play and he`s on it,” Trower comments on their communication. “Bill creates such a solid back-drop. It gives me so much more freedom to relax and stretch out in a way which I`ve never known before.”
On-stage Trower refers to Lordan as “The best drummer in rock”. And he is totally sincere on that count saying, “I think he`s amazing, he`s dynamic, sensitive, powerful and creative. You know he`s just got everything…he`s everything a rock drummer should be but most of them are not. In fact I can only think of one or two that are at all sensitive musicians. Most rock drummers just lay into it and that`s it.”

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Dewar puts it this way, “He`s like a dancer. Everything he does makes incredible sense. He`s a very tasteful drummer. I can relax more now and play in time, which is important. It became very hard to work with Reg, he was so erratic. I used to come off stage dripping sweat because you never knew what he was going to do next. I don`t want to have a go at him or anything, but he couldn`t handle the job. Reggie`s just a bit mixed up, but he`s a nice wee guy.”
Apparently the situation had arisen where Isidore had become envious of the attention Trower was receiving onstage, and had attempted to upstage Trower by playing against him rather than with him.
Says Trower euphemistically, “He didn`t particularly want to leave, but we decided it was the right thing to do.”
The guitarist already had another drummer in mind, a black guy called Freddy Allen, but he was tied up with a band called Fresh Start, and couldn`t break his committment.
Trower`s search went to Los Angeles where the band hired out a rehearsal studio to audition prospective drummers. Six or so auditioned, then Lordan called…”I hear you`re auditioning drummers,” Trower remembers him saying, “Well don`t bother listening to anyone else cause I`m your man.”

Lordan had seen the group for the first time earlier in the year when they played The Whiskey in LA, just catching their encore “Rock Me Baby.”: “I wasn`t that impressed, but I`d liked their second album. Even when we first played together I wasn`t overwhelmed. Then we did `Too Rolling Stoned`, and that was it. They said it was the best version they`d ever played.”
Trower recalls, “We just went in and I had this idea for a song. It wasn`t really finished, but I knew how the backing track was supposed to go. We got to about the third take and it really started to cook. We listened to it and just went around and shook each other`s hands, and said `That`s it`.”
An extensive US tour followed, then it was back into the studio to record the remainder of the album, Trower moving his family temporarily to Los Angeles. They averaged around two days a cut. Matthew Fisher, Trower`s colleague from Procol Harum, produced.
Trower thinks it`s the best album yet, and prefers the sound he got from an American studio, the previous two albums having been recorded in London. He thinks it`s more sophisticated, but still looks on albums as something of a compromise when it comes to their being representative of the band.
“I think we`ve got something live that we don`t get in the studio. I just love the sound of us live. I`m still happier about a great live night than anything else.

“I think when we get up and play we are playing firstly to please ourselves, although we`re always very conscious of the audience being there, and what they need. It`s gotta reach our standard and not theirs. Its not like we`re going to play down to them.”
Live Robin Trower are as exciting a band you`ll see anywhere in this country right now. To prime their audience, a tape of “Song For A Dreamer” is played through the PA. Taken from Procol Harum`s “Broken Barricades” album, it`s Trower`s song for Hendrix, and was the first indication of the guitarist`s real musical soul. Shortly afterwards he quit Procol.
Whether it`s Manchester or Newcastle the audience respond to Trower`s entrance with spontaneous enthusiasm, and there are shouts of “Robin” and “Trower” (Get away – Ed.)
Be it 1975 or not, Robin Trower is undeniably a guitar-hero.
From the opening bars of “Day Of The Eagle” (a cut from “Bridge Of Sighs”) the sheer damn power of the group is apparent. With a playing volume on just the right side of the pain threshold, it`s not since the days of Hendrix and Cream that a guitar-orientated three-piece has made so much music.
Lordan has fleshed the sound out considerably, and follows Trower, whose playing overflows with excitement, to the note.
Dewar plays with a lot of space, and both members of the rhythm section are ideally suited to the other.

There`s not a lot of moving going on; Trower nodding or shaking his head, or slowly tramping his right calf to the rhythm. Sometimes, like with “Too Rolling Stoned”, the music has a frantic intensity. Elsewhere it gently sways and swells, as with the beautiful “Daydream” which Robin dedicates to “The Man”, who of course is Hendrix.
“The only `The Man` I know. It`s strange, even though I don`t listen to him these days he still influences me. His influence goes very deep – it`ll always be there. A great inspiration,” Trower says of Hendrix.
It`s a shame that Trower`s music gets disqualified simply because of this inspiration. Was, say the music of Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green) rendered redundant just because so much of their inspiration came from Chicago bluesmen? Of course it wasn`t. Neither should Trower`s, although it does look as if English audiences are at last realising that here is some music worthy of close and critical attention.
The group close with “Rock Me Baby”, and manage in their own way, to do what Jeff Beck and Free, in their own ways, did for the song. In fact the blues gives Trower maximum room for exploration, and his playing is a treat. Mention must also be made of Lordan`s brief solo; ultra-tight and featuring some remarkable one hand snare rolls and cymbal work.

But, just how good a guitarist does Trower really think he is?
“How good do I think I am? I think I`m probably the best there is in the world today.”
Yeah?
“Yeah.”
Give me some reasons.
“I dunno. I just think I`m the best, that`s all. I don`t think there is anybody else doing anything very interesting. There are some great guitar players – some great jazz players that I wouldn`t even put myself alongside, but in rock I don`t think there`s anybody.”
And yet despite his confidence in his own ability, Trower didn`t think he was ever going to make it in England: “It`s a great buzz to be getting some sort of reaction in this country. There`s no doubt about it. I`ve never had that, never had it in all my career. I had a feeling that we would never be able to do anything in this country. That doubt`s always been with me.”
It must be the best possible way to be proved wrong.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Status Quo, Bryan Ferry, Todd Rundgren, Alan Freeman, David Bowie, Elton John, Larry Coryell, Hank Marvin, Eric Clapton, Kursaal Flyers.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.