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Robin Trower

Chrysalis CHR 1089
Released: March 1976
Chart Peak: #10
Weeks Charted: 20

Robin Trower must get awfully tired of being compared to Jimi Hendrix, but for those with first-hand memories of Hendrix -- which includes some, but not most, of Trower's enthusiastic following -- such an association seem unavoidable. Trower has chosen to work in a style that Hendrix defined. While what Trower does can be enjoyable enough in a routine way, he has yet to challenge the boundaries Hendrix set down. If you're willing to settle for that, he's the best way to go on the concert circuit today. But then it becomes a question of how long you're willing to stay in one place.

As this live album demonstrates, James Dewar is improving as a singer, and Dewar on bass and Bill Lordan on drums provide Trower with a safe, steady rhythm section. Likewise, while they're nothing special by themselves, Trower's songs provide an appropriate launching pad for his guitar work.

Robin Trower - Live!
Original album advertising art.
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While he's not as guilty as some of his fellow British guitar whizzes, Trower's fingers do sometimes fly a little faster than his ideas, and he's not above showing off for the sake of showing off. But he mixes his licks well enough to prevent monotony, usually reining himself in before a solo has gone on too long. And there are moments (such as late in "Rock Me Baby") when he catches fire and speaks with his own voice, if not with his own vocabulary.

What his music does lack is genuine tension, a sense of risk, the drama a listener feels when he realizes that the guitarist is either about to fall flat on his face or blow the roof off the hall. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's why Trower ultimately represents no more than the formalization of a guitar style that was once revolutionary and awe-inspiring.

- John Morthland, Rolling Stone, 6/3/76.

Bonus Reviews!

This man saw a spot that needed filling following the death of Jimi Hendrix, and filled it to an extent with a guitar style reminiscent of Hendrix's but still holding a strong touch of originality. Vocalist/bassist James Dewar even phrases a bit like Hendrix. Like Peter Frampton who hit the jackpot this year, a tireless tourer who has built a growing reputation over the past few years with his excellent guitar work in the bluesy and midtempo range. Material is good, though the idea of putting "Rock Me Baby" on a set after Page & Plant and Beck & Stewart have done it is debatable. Still, Trower's fine guitar runs, Dewar's bluesy voice and strong drumming from Bill Lordan make the package worthwhile. Best cuts: "Daydream," "I Can't Wait Much Longer," "Little Bit Of Sympathy."

- Billboard, 1976.

A truly fine live set, it was recorded in Sweden.

- Michael P. Dawson, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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