AT THE BIRCHMERE/Steve Houk – Robin Trower: Souls, sighs and pharaohs

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My wife Mimi had one of those rare life moments a few years ago while she was in Egypt. And she had Robin Trower along for the ride.   

I was on vacation by myself, she tells it, and among the many treasures I visited there,  I went to the Valley Of Kings, where Tut and other Egyptian kings and pharoahs are entombed. Somehow I found myself completely alone in this one tomb, with Bridge Of Sighs playing on my cassette player. It was a moment Ill never forget and Robin Trower was there with me.   

Trower, the affable rock guitar legend who plays the Birchmere on March 9, blushes through the phone at this story about how his classic 70s album was someones soundtrack for a visit to the tombs of Kings. Wellthats wonderfulthats a wonderful story. I shall definitely treasure that, definitely.  

Treasures abound, in the tombs and in rock history, and Robin Trower himself is one, for the ages. 

Trower, who turns 63 on the day of the Birchmere show, has had one of those music careers many rock greats have: no real top of the charts success (although hes had four gold records), but tremendous critical and fan acclaim, and no wonder, considering two profound early entries on his resume.  

First, he was part of a time-capsule rock moment as a member of Procul Harum, whose song Whiter Shade Of Pale was a rock staple of the late 60s. Then in 1974 after going solo, he released Bridge of Sighs, which with its mesmerizing title track, plus true classic axe burners like Too Rolling Stoned and Lady Love, would become a seminal rock album with licks reminiscent of the late Mr. Hendrix, but with a style all Trowers. Why does he think Sighs remains a rock staple over thirty years later?  

I said when I was making Sighs that I wanted to make music that went from soul to soul. The whole idea of what I was trying to do was to play as soulfully as possible, and try and touch people, you know, like Id been touched by my heroes. It appears Ive done that.  

Most recently, Trower collaborated with rock hero and legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce on a 2008 co-release called Seven Moons. Its not the first time these two rock greats have joined forces, they released two albums together in the early 80s as Truce and BLT. 

Jack came up with the idea of writing a couple of new tunes to add to our two old albums we were trying to remix and repackage, so we got together and started writing, and we ended up writing four or five things, and then we just said, well, lets do a new album. The two legends are hoping to do some dates together in the States later this year.  

And after not touring for a period mainly because of his dislike of the sound you d get live, Trower tours these days with a vengeance, sometimes with shows back to back to back. And its his pure love of the instrument he has truly mastered, and continues to thrill audiences with, that keeps him out there playing live after more than 45 years at it.  

I love to play guitar. Thats the beginning and the end of it, really. Anything that gets me playing the guitar is a good thing. I would find it really hard to move forward as a player if I didnt get out there in front of an audience. Just from a chops point of view, it keeps you up to the mark, as it were.  

Chops? Oh YEAH. Sigh.

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