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Guitar legend Robin Trower talks ‘No More Worlds to Conquer’

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Guitar legend Robin Trower's 26th album "No More Worlds to Conquer" is loaded with the guitar great's signature sound. "That's where song ideas come from," Trower says. "By picking up the guitar every day and playing." Guitar legend Robin Trower's 26th album "No More Worlds to Conquer" is loaded with the guitar great's signature sound. "That's where song ideas come from," Trower says. "By picking up the guitar every day and playing." (Photo courtesy of Rob Blackham)

Robin Trower has always been a singular guitarist easily identifiable through his tone and choice of notes. He’s not alone in that domain when you consider the work of players like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix to cite a few obvious examples, but the list isn’t extensive.

Trower’s instantly recognizable guitar is all over his new record, “No More Worlds to Conquer,” which the musician says was nearly complete at the outset of the pandemic. During the lockdown period, Trower says he put the record back on the lift for some fine-tuning that he believes ended up making for a better album.

Music fans first came to know Robin Trower as a member of Procol Harum, a band he joined shortly after the release of their signature hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” After five albums with Procol Harum, Trower launched a band under his own name.

His 1974 album “Bridge of Sighs” with its haunting title track proved to be his career breakthrough, and while it remains his commercial apex, Trower’s consistent output since, including his work on “No More Worlds to Conquer,” is indication that he’s an even better guitarist today.

“No More Worlds to Conquer” features Trower on guitar and bass, with longtime live collaborators Richard Watts on vocals and Chris Taggart on drums.

The Maine Edge: What was the goal you set for yourself for “No More Worlds to Conquer?”

Trower: I set out to make an album that was more outward going, more accessible, and I was determined to write quite a few different types of songs and spread it out a bit more instead of going down such a narrow road.

TME: I’d read that you had this record almost ready to go before the pandemic hit. Did the album change at all over the last two years?

Trower: It did actually. When we went into lockdown, I spent time writing a lot of new material and I wanted to get some of those songs on the new album. I also used the extra time to rework some of the lead guitar and some of the vocals. I did quite a lot of work on it and I’m very happy with what I’ve come up for this album.

TME: I was wondering if any of the new songs are connected by a theme? I didn’t detect a thread.

Trower: I don’t think there’s a thing that ties all of them together but there are a couple of songs that are definitely what you might call comments on politicians today. “The Razor’s Edge” and “Clouds Across the Sun” come to mind.

TME: Your guitar performances on this record are pretty amazing. Your choice of notes and that signature tone is almost spookily good. You’ve often spoken how you constantly try to improve as a musician. Does that mean you practice pretty much every day?

Trower: I do like to play every day, but I wouldn’t call it practicing. I play kind of for my own amusement, but I do believe that by working hard at it, you can improve and that’s where the song ideas come from, by picking up the guitar every day and playing.

TME: Does the guitar hold any secrets or surprises for you at this stage?

Trower: I’m always trying to work out bits and pieces that tickle me (chuckles), but I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of learning anything so much as it is a matter of being creative.

TME: Many listeners first came to know you as a member of the band Procol Harum between 1967 and 1971. We lost a great vocalist earlier this year when Gary Brooker passed away. How do you remember Gary from your days of working together?

Trower: He was obviously a wonderful composer of great music. As a person, he was a lot of fun to be around. He had a great sense of humor and will be greatly missed.

TME: There’s something almost otherworldly about your breakthrough solo album “Bridge of Sighs.” That music means so much to so many people. Ann Wilson of Heart just released her version of the title song and she explained why she chose it, saying “Bridge of Sighs” is “the darkest, bluesiest blues song ever.” Who were the blues players who originally inspired you?

Trower: Howlin’ Wolf was one of the big influences musically. As for guitar players, it would be B.B. King and Albert King. People like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were the instigators of the music that inspired “Bridge of Sighs.”

TME: There’s a story about Procol Harum following Jimi Hendrix at a festival in Berlin where the audience was especially unruly. What do you recall about that night?

Trower: We were on the bill supporting Jimi Hendrix and I was blown away with his guitar playing but I’m not sure the band was really together on that show and the audience wasn’t happy.

TME: What about live shows Robin? Do you plan to get back out there anytime soon?

Trower: There’s nothing I’d like better than to get out and play live but with so much Covid still about I’m still a little wary. I think it’s a matter of wait and see at the moment.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2022 05:42

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