Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Robin Trower - For Earth Below (1975) + Bonus Tracks

(U.K 1981-82, 2008 - Present)
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Born March 9, 1945, Trower was member of Southend, England, based R&B group 'The Paramounts' which metamorphosed into Procol Harum via a somewhat devious route. Trower played guitar with that band up to 1971 'Broken Barricades' album, long before which his frustrations within Procols had been apparent.
On departure, first attempted to form new band, Jude, with ex Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker, singer Frankie Miller and ex Stone The Crows bassist Jim Dewar. This proved abortive, and Trower pursued solo career in cahoots with Dewar mid-1972.
Released first solo album Twice Removed From Yesterday in 1973, first incarnation of Robin Trower Band comprising himself on guitar, Dewar on bass and vocals, and Reg Isadore on drums. Trower's undoubtedly Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar playing was and remains dominant factor, and it was as nascent guitar hero that second set, 'Bridge Of Sighs' (1974), became considerable American hit.
Early efforts were, in fact, concentrated on U.S. market, backed by heavy tours, with belated British recognition arriving largely as result of Stateside status. Before For Earth Below (1975) Isadore was replaced by ex-Sly Stone drummer Bill Lordan, and that and 1976 Robin Trower Live were again top U.S. sellers.
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Review
The man who saw a void following the death of Jimi Hendrix and filled it in his own way with some fine guitar work and the excellent vocals of James Dewar is back. Usual mix of rock/blues from the ex-Procol Harum man, and for the huge legion of fans Trower has built with his trio, this is exactly what they expect and want. Star of course is Trower's excellent guitar work, fine blues rifts predominating. Cuts that allow him long solos are best. Not a replica of Hendrix, but certainly the best in this genre and the one who has showed the most originality. Expect immediate FM action here. Best cuts: "Gonna Be More Suspicious," "For Earth Below," "Shame The Devil," "Confessin' Midnight." [Billboard 1975]
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'For Earth Below', Trower's third solo album, is heavily induced with a blues-rock formula that withstands the duration of the eight tracks and adequately displays his slick guitar mastery. His subtle yet dominant fusion of blues and hard rock styles not only inflicts character throughout each song, but also demonstrates how effective an instrument the guitar can become when the proper techniques are applied. Much like 'Twice Removed From Yesterday' but not as diverse as 'Bridge of Sighs', this album has Trower sounding a tad more velvety around the edges, with the blues element sometimes governing the entire piece, an asset to the album's complete texture. The opening "Shame the Devil" and "A Tale Untold" best exemplify his distilled playing style, while a song like "Gonna Be More Suspicious" represents how focused a musician he really is, making each chord pour into the next so that the sound becomes totally viscous.
James Dewar, who plays bass and sings vocals, contributes aptly to the low end of the music, filling in where needed, while drummer Bill Lordan helps out on percussion. Finishing off with the sultry but dimensioned aura of "For Earth Below," the album wraps up with a wholehearted satisfactory feel.
The two numbers that somehow stand out from the general wah-wah Hendrix-style on the album are the ones taken at a slow tempo, namely, 'It's Only Money' and the title track. Unsurprisingly, they also turn out to be the best compositions on the record. Thus, 'Money' is distinguished by a weird 'dripping' guitar sound that adds some delicate poignancy and even a certain mystical flavour to the proceedings.
The title track is the highlight track here; pushing that 'dripping' sound still further, and adding 'psychedelic' percussion noises. Trower transforms the song into an atmospheric, dreamy chant that is finally able to raise an eye or two. When that relaxing, yet at the same time disturbing sound suddenly comes on at the end of the record to caress your ears, it's like being saved from eternal damnation - finally, Robin gives us something unusual.
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I don't even care that there are no interesting solos in the song; it's not supposed to be a polygon for solos. On the other hand, listen carefully to the lengthy, hypnotic fade-out, when Dewar slowly keeps repeating 'for earth below... for earth below... for earth below...', the percussion noises slowly transform into deep sighs, and Robin emits these creepy little wails out of his guitar.
No, it's not ambient or anything, and the track is even hardly experimental; such 'half-psychedelic' numbers are quite common among seasoned rockers (cf. 'Dreams' by the Allman Brothers Band, for instance - except that 'For Earth Below' is a much better song). But it's the number's distinguished position on here that really attracts one's attention - further proof that the order of songs on an album does matter a lot.
The albums that followed 'For Earth Below' began to stray slowly from being blues-influenced to a sound that contained a mainstream feel, with fragments of bright rock adding a sheen to his raw guitar repertoire.
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Trower's Guitar
Trower has been a long time proponent of the Fender Stratocaster. He currently uses his custom built Strat (made by the Fender Custom Shop) which comes in Black, Arctic White and Midnight Wine Burst. The guitar is equipped with a 1950s reissue pickup in the neck position, a 1960s reissue in the middle position, and a Texas Special at the bridge. Other features included a custom C-shaped maple neck featuring a large headstock with a Bullet truss-rod system, locking machine heads and a maple fingerboard with narrow-spaced abalone dot position inlays and 21 frets. The Strats he plays live are an exact model of his signature guitar, which is entirely unmodified. During live performances, his guitar is tuned a full step down, to a DGCFAD tuning, instead of the "standard" EADGBE tuning.
Trower is known to use anywhere from one to three 100-Watt Marshall heads with four to six cabinets on stage. Usually two JCM 800s, and a JCM 900. But, has also been known to link 100-Watt Marshall Plexi heads. It is not uncommon for Trower to play at very high volume levels through his rigs, even in relatively small venues, to achieve his desired tone. In studio sessions, Trower uses a mix of amplifiers, such as Fender Deville and Cornell Plexi Amplifers models to acquire different tonality.
He has recently been using Fulltone pedals and effects. He favors the OCD, Distortion Pro, Fat Boost, CLYDE Deluxe Wah, Deja Vibe 2, Soul-Bender, and a BOSS Chromatic Tuner. He runs his Deja Vibe into his distortion pedal to get his famous tone. He was given his own signature Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive in late 2008.
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This post includes a rip from CD (320kps) and includes full album artwork. I have also included bonus tracks recorded during the rehearsal sessions for this album, which gives the listener an insight into how some of the tracks evolved. This is one of my favourite Trower albums and in my opinion an amazing sequel to his legendary 'Brighes of Sighs' album. I was lucky enough to see Trower play at Festival Hall, in Melbourne in 1975, when he toured Australia with his 'For Earth Below' show. I remember being totally blown away with his solos and can honestly say it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to (from a music point of view).
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Track Listing

01 - Shame The Devil
02 - It's Only Money

03 - Confessin' Midnight

04 - Fine Day

05 - Alethea

06 - A Tale Untold

07 - Gonna Be More Suspicious

08 - For Earth Below

Bonus Rehearsals

09 - Gonna Be Suspicious (Early Version Instrumental Jam)

10 - Fine Day (Instrumental Jam #1)

11 - Fine Day (Instrumental Jam #2)

12 - A Tale Untold (R&B Jam)

13 - For Earth Below (Slow Keyboard Blues)

14 - Fine Day (Early Rough Vocal Run Through)

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Band Members:
Robin Trower (Guitar)

James Dewar (Vocals, Bass)

Bill Lordan (Drums)

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Robin Trower Link (145Mb) New Link 1/11/2014
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7 comments:

  1. Hi mate,
    Is there a chance for a re-up on this it seems to be dead??

    Glen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, great blog and thanx for fixing this one.

    Glen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Does the DL still work? All I get is a blank page? Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rapidshare have changed their interface and setups for DL recently, so it could have mucked up somewhere
      Anyhow, I've re-created the link so hopefully all should be good now

      Delete
    2. Thank you very very much, you are most kind. Seems to be working right now...can't wait to hear it. Many thanks.

      Delete