British guitar supremo Robin Trower has recently chalked up 70 years and is still going strong. For some he is primarily remembered for that immediate period following his departure from Procol Harum in 1971. In the following years Trower hit a purple patch and had his greatest commercial success with albums frequently camped in the top ten of the USA album charts. These included 1973's brilliant "Bridge of Sighs" and the storming "Live" album recorded from a 1975 stadium show in Sweden both graced,with the towering presence of Jimmy Dewar on vocals. Happily since then Trower has toured endlessly, released some fine music and been plying his trade with dedication and love over many years. As he told The Blues Magazine recently "I still enjoy making music. I practically live for playing the guitar".
With this new album "Something's about to change" Trower has declared that "I can't remember ever being so happy with a finished album before". This could be viewed as a piece of pre release hype if it were not for the fact that this is the best Robin Trower album in years. It moves away from the covers approach applied in the generally ok "Roots and Branches" his last album in 2013 and moves to 12 new songs of electric blues with a funky tinge that sees the great man playing and singing at the top of his game.
Trower is the King of the Strat and twists and bends guitar notes with a dexterity that others can only dream about. The title track is pounding blues rock of the highest order with Trower playing like a demon, indeed it could teach that young upstart Joe Bonamassa a thing or two. The songs throughout are uniformly good with the excellent "Riff No 7 (Still alive)" showing that Trower's debt to the Hendrix template of later albums like "The Cry of Love" remains enduring.. Even better is "Fallen" which is more in the Chicago blues style of Buddy Guy, whereas the deep grind of "Dreams that shone like diamonds" is beautifully executed. The longer tracks like "Good morning midnight", "Strange Love" and "Til' I reach home" are essentially all constructed from a slow blues fusion and none outstay their welcome. Alternatively the funky hard rock of "One saving grace" is populated by burning Trower solos and tight accompaniment from band musicians Chris Taggart on drums and Luke Smith on the organ. They provide a sterling backdrop throughout. Worthy of note is the fact that Trower himself plays bass on the album and on tracks like the wonderful "What you never want to do" shows mastery of the rolling soulful rumble and a great vocal to support it.
Overall "Something's about to change" represents a wonderful late career renaissance for this great guitarist. Bearing in mind some of the stodgy fare that Eric Clapton has offered up of late, those with a penchant for premier blues playing at its very best would be well advised to turn to Trower for full satisfaction.
Review by Red on Black