Bass players, like drummers, are the (mostly) unsung heroes of any band: the vocalist and guitarists tend to get all of the attention. Having been a bass player in a previous life, I can attest to that! Although I never graduated beyond the working men’s clubs of the North East, I remain certain that without the underpinning of a solid bass line, the finished product would be all the poorer. OK, there are exceptions, as when the bassist is also the frontman…Geddy Lee, Burke Shelley, Jack Bruce were also vocalists but still did amazing jobs on the vital drum/bass background.
That preamble is a way to introduce one of the best bassists to grace any stage: Trevor Bolder provided the rhythmic backbone to dozens of albums as helped enhance the talents of David Bowie while he was in The Spiders From Mars and contributed to some great songs with Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep (where his vocal talents were also utilised to great effect) and similarly he helped out the genius that was Mick Ronson on his solo stuff.
Before his untimely death in 2013, Trevor had been working on a solo album which, thanks to the magic of technology and the dedication of his wife, Shelly, the partially completed works can now see the light of day.
The album is all the more poignant as it features drummer Lee Kerslake who worked with Trevor in Uriah Heep and also, sadly, is no longer with us. It also has guitar contributions from Mr Heep himself (Mick “‘appy days” Box) and Wishbone Ash’s Laurie Wisefield as the ten songs deliver a mix of brand new songs as well as some of Heep’s Bolder compositions. The other featured artists is Derk Gallagher, a vocalist who has fronted many bands and came to know Trevor after asking him for help with his “vocal and musical direction” and contributed lyrics to War Child which is here as well as on Heep’s brilliant Wake The Sleeper. He is currently fronting an Iron Maiden tribute band (I’m Maiden) and once this damnable covid goes away be sure to seek them out. Trevor does many of the vocals as well as his inimitable bass and adds some lead guitar too proving a talent lost, but encapsulated here.
Bluesdoodles thoughts on To Sail The Rivers
The opening track, Which Way Will The Wind Blow, has an amusing start as he says “Ehup Joe, can I have a dry white wine”, before the familiar (to Heepsters anyway) riff kicks in. It has a tad more weight here and is just as good as the Different World version…praise indeed. To the Raging Silence album next for Rich Kid: again it is a bit heavier and has sufficient variation to be deserving of regular listens. Wasting My Time is all Trevor; acoustic and slide and a great bass line (naturally) with a delightful lilt and (this is a huge compliment) reminding me of some of the late great Ken Hensley’s early solo work both with the vocal inflexions and the simple complexity of the myriad melodies.
I Had A Dream is another bass highlight as he shows exactly what this beautiful instrument (in the right hands) can bring to a song. The acoustic picked solo is a surprising delight too. Fear Of Falling is from the under-appreciated Sea Of Light and his solo treatment of it again heavies it up and runs the original exceedingly close. Next up is a song that I found on the Spellbound live album as a bonus; Sail The Rivers sounds like it belongs on Sea Of Light too and is a slow build bluesy song that sits Trevor’s vocals as much as Bernies! The clever guitar solo is different here and adds to its appeal.
Now the next song, Shelter From The Rain, off Sonic Origami was never a favourite and, although it gets a clarity here missing from the original, it’s still a good but not great song. The Paris Song is a neat song that deserves a listen for Trevor’s unique and insightful touch on the bass; that genius lifts an OK song into a must-hear.
Moving to the Wake The Sleeper album a rock-solid song, Warchild, is blessed with the same majesty and, having played them back to back, it is difficult to choose a winner…so I will just listen to them both. The final track is the Spanish influenced sounds of Dream On; another from Sea Of Light but with Trevor playing everything…and playing them beautifully. This is a classic ballad, and even the Heepy harmonies are preserved…a brilliant end to a very powerful album of reinterpreted and new songs.
If you like Uriah Heep, this is a must. If you are a fan of quality melodic rock this is a must. If you’re not a fan of either, then you should still listen to this and do not be surprised when it converts you.
The album has been released on Bolder Records (via Cherry Red) which was named after Trevor’s father’s record shop, in yet another example the album being a family and friends project. The album is available on CD for Christmas 2020 ahead of its release on streaming platforms in early 2021.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful addition to any rock collection; a must-have addition to any Uriah Heep collection.
Which Way Will The Wind blow
Wasting My Time
I Had A Dream
Fear Of Falling
Sail The Rivers
Shelter From The Rain
The Paris Song
(The iTunes run on track kept the rock going with an oft overlooked solo album by Trevor Rabin from 1981 called Wolf.)