Feature Story: Six-string god Robin Trower powers up on new collaboration with Jack Bruce

English wah-wah guitar great Robin Trower has enjoyed two huge careers, first as axeman in the prog collective Procol Harum and then as a gold and platinum solo artist through the heady ‘70s. Three decades on, Trower continues to find novel outlets for his thick blues guitar skills.
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English wah-wah guitar great Robin Trower has enjoyed two huge careers, first as axeman in the prog collective Procol Harum and then as a gold and platinum solo artist through the heady ‘70s. Add three more decades onto that, and Robin never stopped finding novel outlets for his thick blues guitar skills, one of the greatest collaborations being his work with the incomparable Jack Bruce.

“Do you want the long version or the short version?” asks Robin, urged to spill the beans on his next collaboration with the Cream bassist and vocalist. “The thing is, Jack and I have been talking for some time about remixing the two albums that we did together, I think, in the ‘80s (B.L.T. from February of ’81 and Truce from January of ’82). And, eventually, we got together and decided it was a good idea — but we would add two or three new songs to them. And then, when we started to get together to write material for the project, we had more and more material coming through. And, in the end, we decided to do a new album. We recorded that, and every song is a co-write between me and Jack. And at the moment it’s being mixed.”

Stylistically speaking, “Well, it’s a three-piece. Me, Jack and Gary Husband on drums. So it’s pretty raw, and it’s pretty live. And Jack is one of the best singers in the world (laughs). At the moment, it’s being finished under the auspices of V12 Records, mine and my manager’s label. It’s a modern version of the music Jack and I made together in the past. If you can imagine a three-piece thing with Jack on bass and vocals (laughs), with electric guitar and a drummer. I would definitely call it a rock ‘n’ roll album — and a lot of stuff is very bluesy, obviously.”

And there’s more … “I’m working on the material for my first instrumental album, and I’m hoping to do that in the autumn. It’s an electric album. I’m sort of going for the space that Jimmy Smith used to be in with his trio, Back At The Chicken Shack and that kind of vibe. Obviously, instead of having the organ being the main thing, I’m going to have the guitar being the main thing. That’s kind of what I have in mind. So it’s rhythm and blues, heavy blues.”

Not a lot of regrets, says Robin, with respect to the vast past catalog, although, “There’s a couple of albums that I don’t really like, and they were from the ‘80s, one called Passion and one called Take What You Need. I don’t really dislike them, but I don’t like them. I don’t know, guitar-wise I think I just continue to progress. I think I’m more fluid than I used to be. And I’ve gotten better in terms of composition with what I do, in terms of the solos. I love working in the studio, because I’m hearing it fresh. But playing live, you know, it’s great to get in front of an audience and get a reaction to what you’re doing.”

And he’ll be doing it with a Signature Series Stratocaster.

“One of the proudest moments of my life was when I was offered that by Fender,” says Robin. “It’s a great honor to have a Strat with your name on it. I’ve been using those ever since they built the first one, which is probably getting onto about three years ago now. I’ve got four of those altogether. That’s what I use all the time. And actually, with respect to amps, on the thing with Jack, I’ve been using some hand-built amplifiers called Plexi that I’ve had built in England. But as things stand at the moment, I still use Marshalls live.”

Also in the cards for Robin is an American tour, featuring two ex-Gamma members, longtime vocalist Davey Pattison and bassist Glenn Letsch, returned to the Trower fol