Paul Gilbert & Robin Trower: Idol Curiosity
Orginally printed in Guitar World, June 2008
After years of worshipping from afar, speed demon Paul Gilbert finally meets and interviews the guitar hero that rocks his world: British blues legend Robin Trower.
It’s not every day that you get to meet your hero, even when you’re something of a hero yourself. Just ask Paul Gilbert.
The super shredder has been a huge fan of British blues guitarist Robin Trower since he was a kid. At the time Gilbert discovered him, in the Eighties, Trower had duly made his mark as a guitarist, first with the band Procol Harum (best known for their hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale”) and afterward with records that he cut with his own trio inspired by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
“When I was a teenager, I bought three of his records,” says Gilbert. “Bridge of Sighs, Victims of the Fury and Robin Trower Live. To me, these are ‘must listen’ records. The songs are great. The singing by bassist James Dewar is excellent. And the guitar playing is resonant and powerful like a cranked-up Marshall stack, bluesy like a howling hound dog, otherworldly like psychedelic trip through time, and overflowing with the best electric guitar vibrato I have ever heard. Robin is a master of tone and phrasing, and has a deadly arsenal of flash as well. For these reasons, he is my guitar hero.”
So when Gilbert learned Trower was coming to Los Angeles for a performance, he called Guitar World with a special request: Would we like him to interview Trower for a feature in our magazine. As it happened, we were already planning to interview Trower, and so we were only too glad to grant him his wish.
Certainly, Trower made his mark as a potent electric guitarist throughout the Seventies and beyond. In particular, Bridge of Sighs, his 1974 release, was a stunning effort that featured his incendiary Hendrix-inspired playing on cuts like “Too Rolling Stoned,” “Little Bit of Sympathy” and “Day of the Eagle.”
As Gilbert notes, Trower’s talent has continued to grow. “His 2003 album, Living Out of Time, is sonic proof that Robin retains all the fire of his classic Seventies releases,” he says. Trower’s newest album is Seven Moons, a collaboration with legendary Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce.
In this unique interview, Gilbert finds out what makes his hero tick and demonstrates that even heroes have their heroes.
PAUL GILBERT Growing up, the records I had of yours were Bridge of Sighs, the live albums and Victims of the Fury. I listened to them over and over. And I especially loved Living Out of Time. It really had a youthful power and energy to it. I really got the feeling that, Wow, Robin Trower is back with that record. But on all those albums, throughout your career, how much rehearsal and preparation have you done before hitting the studio?
ROBIN TROWER With Living out of Time, I think we rehearsed five days before going into the studio. And Seven Moons, the album I just recorded with [legendary Cream bassist] Jack Bruce, we didn’t rehearse at all, but we spent time, he and I, writing songs together, so that’s a kind of rehearsal. We had a good formation in our minds of how those pieces went. All we had to do was find a drummer and then record them.
GILBERT Is that much different than what you were doing in the early
days with the Robin Trower Group [with bassist/vocalist James Dewar
and drummer Reg Isadore]?
TROWER Well, on Bridge of Sighs, for instance, a lot of those songs were played on the road before they were recorded. So there are many different ways you can go at it. But just like when I recorded with Jack Bruce, we wanted it to feel fresh.