Review Summary: First dose of next-level blues rock from a master of the style.
A forgotten gem released on the blossoming edge of heavy blue psych, Trower’s debut is an exceptional platter from a legendary power trio. Hendrix-based, but in no way Hendrix-bound, Trower’s shimmery chords and unhurried style sought to wring every ounce of emotion from individual notes. This group could craft songs
– not tedious solos over 12-bar for 40 minutes, but rather infectious, hook-heavy performances capped with the vivid, soulful vocals of bassist James Dewar.
Ending his ‘flower people’ stage by moving away from the psychedelic pop of Procol Harum, (his last record with the band, “Broken Barricades” is excellent, but as Trower's record’s title hypothesizes - pianos, kimonos and orchestrated strings were giving way to low-sideburns, denim and hard blues – the first two Trapeze records are great examples) Trower steps into the arena of hard rock that just aches with spiritual commotion and tragic bravura.
The galloping pulse and flash-rockin’ stickwork of drummer Reg Isidore sets up Trower’s effervescent tones and dagger-like bends in “Man of the World” (not the Fleetwood Mac song), Dewar lamenting over bad decisions, a-cheatin’ and a-stealin’ and double dealers (such a time-bound phrase in 70s hard rock. You don’t hear much about double dealin’ and wicked women stealing whiskey
in the Arcade Fire catalog). “Hannah” hangs a drapery of Trower’s sexy cosmic shimmer over a simple, profound chorus, the band shifting into a double-time jam for the solo and then backtracking to sedate, slow blues for the outro. The album just glows with tasty nuggets. “Sinner’s Swing” shuffles along a on a cucumber-cool heavy riff against Dewar’s Paul Rodgers-like pipes, eventually emerging in a furious jam while the introspective “Ballerina” slow-builds at a ‘Red House’ sort of pace.
“Twice Removed from Yesterday” kicked off a string of quality records, all with collectible, colorful abstract album covers and rife with dazzling performances. There’s an air of wizened British sophistication to the band’s style, like artisans of melodic insight a cut above many blues bands of the period, aligning them (at least in my mind) with legends like The Groundhogs, Peter Green, and Taste. I seem to recall even Rolling Stone gave some Trower records good reviews, but don’t let that stop you from checking it out. Even the blind dog finds the bone from time to time!