To The Heavens?
It is difficult to guess what Robin Trower is suggesting with the title of his new album No More Worlds To Conquer (29 April, 2022; Provogue/Mascot Label Group), but it is hoped that he is not thinking of his farewell because the music of the 76-year-old British blues guitar maestro is still much-loved and needed.
Yes, it is true that he will probably never return to the heights of his late 1960s work with Procol Harum or his solo classic Bridge of Sighs, but his recent work with artists such as Livingstone Brown and Maxi Priest suggests he is still willing to push boundaries; and his sublime tone and phrasing will always be in demand. The good news is that most of the 11 cuts on No More Worlds to Conquer will be largely familiar to his legion of fans, but the record also contains some turns.
Trower’s latest offering finds his Stratocaster once more plugged into a Marshall amp, but he also plays bass on the album. Chris Taggart contributes drums while Richard Watts provides outstanding vocals on songs that riff off everything from historical figures to contemporary political doldrums.
The album opens with the luxuriant cut Ball of Fire, on which Trower’s guitar work recalls Hendrix. This is followed by the slow-building title track No More Worlds To Conquer, which was reportedly motivated by Trower’s interest in Alexander The Great, and possibly represents a reflection on his own musical trajectory. On the other hand, Jeff Beck’s guitar playing might have been the inspiration for Birdsong, which shifts the sound to that of a blues ballad.
The up-tempo Waiting for the Rain to Fall recalls the catchy sound of Tamla Motown and could easily become a classic; don’t miss it.
Clouds Across the Sun and the wonderful The Razor’s Edge are acerbically political - and even angry - both in the music and the lyrics. The accompanying video for the latter highlights Trower’s feelings towards politicians as Watts spits: “It ain’t words that will make you, By your deeds you shall be known.”
Fire to Ashes delights with sparse organ, while the closing love ballad I Will Always Be Your Shelter compensates for the rather anodyne lyrics with a moving and sentimental Trower solo.
Trower, after well over five decades in the business, may be reaching the end of his career but he is still producing some lovely music. It is hoped that the title of his latest offering merely represents one more step on his much-storied journey.