Robin Trower has No More Worlds to Conquer

Robin Trower has No More Worlds to Conquer

Robin Trower has No More Worlds to Conquer a wonderful album that may not be Bridge of Sighs (nothing could be) but it is forty-odd minutes of dreamy, exquisitely played blues.

Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album that may not be Bridge of Sighs (nothing could be) but it is forty-odd minutes of dreamy, exquisitely played blues.

Back in 1974 I had started to look to the blues and their influence on the rock music I already loved; I was also ‘into’ Hendrix and the blues he brought to his fiery table…then came an album featuring a guitarist that the press, unjustly it turned out, suggested was a clone of Hendrix called Robin Trower. That piqued my interest sufficiently and so I bought the album and totally disagreed with the press; this was original blues based rock of the highest order without sounding like anyone but Trower. That album was Bridge of Sighs…named after a racehorse rather than the Venetian canal crossing or, indeed, the Cambridge river crossing. Although some of his subsequent work didn’t scale the heights that this achieved, all of his output is quality stuff: I never did get into his previous band, Procol Harem, where Robin plied his trade before taking control of his own destiny. Since that landmark album, he has continued to produce high-quality blues-rock that may not have scaled the charts like Bridge, but every single one was lovingly crafted and filled with superb guitar playing.

With his latest album, No More Worlds to Conquer, he proves yet again that age is no barrier to producing quality. As Robin says,  “With every album, it’s the best I can do at that particular time. I think that’s what it’s about. I set myself goals and each song has to live up to them.” The big difference this time is that he hasn’t done the vocals and, with total honesty says, “I started to realise, after I’d tried to sing these songs myself, that I wasn’t vocally up to it. Richard Watts has done a great job on vocals…[and] there’s quite a few songs on this album that I wouldn’t be able to play and sing live at the same time.” Richard is no stranger to working with Robin as he plays bass and sings in the touring band. He leaves the bass to Robin…apart from three tracks where Livingstone Brown was called in.

Opening with Ball of Fire, you might expect a fiery tempo to match the title…after a couple of listens, this mid-tempo masterpiece does fit the title and is a perfect example of the guitar woven around the song rather than the other way round. The ‘simple’ riff, the ingenious rhythm guitar and the soling are majestic…not too many notes and all in the right place. The title track, No More Worlds to Conquer, is electric blues par excellence with hints of soul transferred nicely by Richard who actually enunciates too which allows for easy lyrical enjoyment. The guitar parts range from the odd wah’d chord via subtle picking and a superb solo. Deadly Kiss stays slow, bluesy and delicious: subtle wah chords overlay a catchy simple melody…the overall sound makes me imagine Peter Gabriel and David Essex backed by a high-quality blues band and Rock(ing) On properly! It takes a few listens to get fully, but when you do it becomes even more remarkable…by the way, the solo is sparse genius.

Birdsong is more slowish blues with more astounding guitar phrases peppered behind the lyrics and another quality solo. The pace does pick up a bit for Losing You: blues-rock played with a total understanding of what that means and how to interpret and communicate with it…that takes a lot of ability. Waiting for the Rain to Fall continues the blues centric offerings with the simple chord work that he makes a sound like an orchestra and the solo is…superb if, like all of them, far too short. The varying pressure he uses to pick the strings brings an extra dimension and works so well.

Wither on the Vine is lyrically and musically astute as the familiar slow blues seeps wonderfully from the speakers and provides yet another lovely (short) solo. Cloud Across the Sun may point the finger toward self-seeking politicians but, regardless of your leanings, it is a faster, bluesy song with a sparse, clever riff and neat guitar interjections before the solo weaves a clever route around the main melodies and captivates. Back to slower blues with the delicate Fire to Ashes: organ swirls add depth as Richard and Robin’s guitar sing brilliantly. The Razor’s Edge is another justified dig at those politicians of every direction but, again, it is wrapped up in fiery wah’d guitar and a heavy blues riff that delights.

The final track draws from the deep blues of years gone by, but is illuminated by some stunning chord work and majestic picking…I Will Always Be Your Shelter is a classy way to close. Robin sums this album up thus: “It was difficult, but I’m glad I did it. This album is an evolution. I’m hoping that’s what is always happening with my music. There’s a huge step between Bridge Of Sighs and now. It’s like anything. The more you work on it, in theory, the better you should be at it. And I definitely feel like this album is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

That, for me, says it all…it isn’t Bridge of Sighs (nothing could be) but it is forty-odd minutes of dreamy, exquisitely played blues. Some will say it’s a bit similar paced throughout… which is true to an extent, but lie back and listen to the skill that oozes effortlessly from Robin and the tone, the expression and the passion that emanates from his Stratocaster is unbeatable.

Robin Trower has No More Worlds to Conquer

Track listing:
Ball of Fire
No More Worlds to Conquer
Deadly Kiss
Losing You
Waiting for the Rain to Fall
Wither on the Vine
Cloud Across the Sun
Fire to Ashes
The Razor’s Edge
I Will Always Be Your Shelter 

Robin Trower: guitar, bass
Richard Watts: vocals
Chris Taggart: drums
Livingstone Brown: bass

Connect with Robin Trower across SOCIAL MEDIA
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(iTunes took me to lots more Trower and l lingered awhile on his Roots and Branches album (nice!) before the irresistible urge to listen to the Celtic tones in the 67-second complexity of Dark Dance by Robin Williamson (he of Incredible String Band fame))

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