Robin Trower: Roots And Branches

Revered axeman pays homage to his formative influences.

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As the title suggests, this follow-up to 2010’s all-original Playful Heart from the former Procol Harum guitarist and 70s solo powerhouse centres on covers, supplemented by a handful of originals. Now 67, Trower is an oft-forgotten English guitar hero but his credentials are well to the fore here.

The flair and pedigree flows as his dirty, Hendrix-inspired fuzz tone and mesmerising technique is let off the leash for some blistering workouts. Deft rearrangements of such chestnuts as BB King’s The Thrill Is Gone, Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster and Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign become platforms for Trower’s simmering and pulsating keynotes, alive with strange melancholy and an unerring feel for trip-wire tension.

Originals such as When I Heard Your Name are comparatively thin placed beside the canonical cornerstones. As a portrait of a craftsman reconnecting with the raw material that first made him such a formidable force, Roots And Branches is hard to fault.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.