Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Roots And Branches
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4.5 out of 5 stars113
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on February 21, 2013
Robin Trower's latest album "Roots and Branches" is an excellent step forward for the artist. The sound is uncluttered and the sonic imaging is quite deep...the arrangements are stripped down and recorded with a glowing analog-sounding warmth. This is a quite earthy record indeed and one that reminds me a bit more of 2005's "Another Days Blues" than of Trower's more recent albums.

Trower's tone and phrasing, which has mellowed sweetly over his prolific career, is as fine as it has ever been. His shimmery guitar lines are the most vocal they have ever been. Trower's sound is unmistakable- there are very few guitarists who have such richness of tone.

The record is a mix of freshly arranged classic R&B tunes and a few fine new Trower originals; the record's pace and atmosphere are steady, assured and quite inviting. The lead vocals are split between Trower and bassist Richard Watts. While Watts is the stronger singer of the two, Trower's vocals are confident and enjoyable throughout. This is a grown up R&B album, not a rock album, and it is an exceptionally fine one from a truly seminal artist. Trower Power is alive and well!
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on February 26, 2013
Another triumph for this sadly underrated legend. If all you know of Robin Trower is Bridge of Sighs, you're missing out on alot of fantastic music. Trower takes some older classic music and breathes new life into it. He then adds in some new music of his own and makes it flow seamlessly. The trademark guitar sound is there, and combined with his growing confidence in his own vocals we're seeing an artist at the top of his powers 40 plus years on in his career. Suffice it to say, if you are, at all, a fan of the guitar, pick up this album.
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on February 18, 2013
I have to say it's nice to have Trower back to his power blues self. Not that I didn't enjoy "Seven Moons" or "What Lies Beneath" but Trower is at his best for me when he's able to stick to the straight blues. I believe this is where he's most comfortable. I love all these classic tunes and to hear Robin's modern take on them is a breath of fresh air.

This albums production reminds me of a couple of my favorite blues albums of the last few years, as the sound is crisp, clean, but yet maintains that "tube" like quality that accents blues music so well. I can tell that a ton of effort went into making this album sound the way it does. Simple, articulated, warm and dang right old Stratocaster love.

As I stated above, I'm also glad that the POWER BLUES is back. This type of power blues really runs the gamut for me. As at its best the heavy drums and thick guitar makes me pount the table with a rock hard fist...but at it's worst (SRV wannabees) I just shake my head. Fortunately Trower has always had his own sound, and he kills it here. A couple of my faves:

"When I heard your name," Killer. Love the call and response type singing and guitar riffs along with the slight vocal accompaniment. It's also one of the more upbeat songs on the album and the rhythm section brings it deep and heavy.

"That's Alright Mama," A blues shuffle with smokey harmonica and great smooth singing. His guitar solo is great in this one as he kisses the strings with his pick and really gits it on this one.

"Little Red Rooster," A sermon with Trower bringing the guitar and vocals to your face in this classic. The hammer down style really fits and I'm glad he chose to a version of this here. Six minutes of joy.

If you're into what Cyril Lance did a few years back, Greg Allman's Low Country Blues, or any of James Mathus' recent blues albums then you'll dig this. A killer modern blues classic with Trower bringin' it hard and good!
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on February 20, 2013
If you are fan of Robin Trower here is yet another MUST have release from a true guitar master! Eleven remakes, and by remakes I mean that RT truly has made these his own. These are not the old standards, nothing wrong with the originals or many of the later versions of them, but RT has here given an exceptional rendering of them that surpasses anything previously released IMO. Clean and clear and downright dirty when needed, each one a joy to the ears, and the tone... rich and full and lucious.

The samples here do not do this justice, they are just a tiny taste. Track listing;

Hound Dog
The Thrill is Gone
When I Heard Your Name
Little Red Rooster
I Believe to My Soul
Shape of Things to Come
That's Alright Mama
Save Your Love
Born Under a Bad Sign
Sheltered Moon
See My Life

You truly must hear to believe tracks like "The Thrill Is Gone", "That'sAlright Mama", "Born Under a Bad Sign", and "Little Red Rooster". Classic RT blues guitar. All songs are chock full of RT signature licks and sounds. And, do you want wah? You get wah, Robin Trower style, in both "Sheltered Moon" and "SeeMy Life"!

This a full course of RT cuisine, 5 Star start to finsh!
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on February 18, 2013
Robin Trower is back and after almost 50 years playing his brand of the blues he has a little fun with a few standards. Trower has returned to his roots, the album is composed entirely of covers, and these are the songs that just about every serious blues enthusiast has played at some point in time. An impressive list, "Little Red Rooster," "Born Under A Bad Sign," "Hound Dog," "The Thrill Is Gone," to name a few.

This old dog has many new tricks up his sleeve and by paying homage to the original artists in a cover album he shows he can compliment any tune he covers. That is the hardest part, making the cover sound as good or better than the original.

From his astounding "Bridge of Sighs" Bridge of Sighs (Exp) to this latest release, Trower has always been the consummate perfectionist and performer. His last 10 years have really been super productive, the man is a machine. Robin comes out of the blocks on "Hound Dog" bending the strings every which way but loose. Trower's cover of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" is haunting and so special. He puts his signature on every cut with a huge fat sound that blows me away.

The introduction of organ and blues harp is not something you see a lot of on a Trower release but the fit is just right on these standards.

I read...

"What he has done, since the mid-sixties, is play a style of Blues guitar that is original, recognizable and absolutely trippy - this guy could have written the book on psych guitar if he had stopped playing long enough to do so."

"His original songs fit in well alongside the classics and there isn't any obvious gap in quality - he has been at it long enough to be able to apply his sound to these songs and the result is pure Trower."

As Robin confirms, ''I started off thinking I would do a complete album of covers. I wanted to get as far away from the originals as possible. I came up with half a dozen arrangements, which I felt were different enough. Then the project escalated. I ended up writing some new songs as well. I have tried to make the new songs be influenced by what I have done with the classics, so the album blends together.''

Robin's Team...

Livingstone Brown... Bass, Engineer, Producer
Paul Jones...Harmonica
Luke Smith...Keyboards
Chris Taggart...Drums
Robin Trower...Cover Art, Guitars, Liner Notes, Primary Artist, Vocals
Richard Watts...Bass, Vocals

Fabulous solos, Trower's iconic mastery of the Fender Strat, knowing when to hold notes, and when to leverage special effects is always right on. The cut "See My Life" is what effects are all about and is one of my favorite cuts on the CD. BTW, Robin sings six of these songs, Richard Watts sings the other five.

There's nothing too demanding here, it's good, solid blues to be enjoyed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Another Trower benchmark release. Fantastic.
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on June 6, 2013
I have mixed feelings about this latest release from Robin Trower. As a very long time RT fan, I think he shines best during live shows but I will never overlook a new studio release. On the positive, I am so happy to see he is still doing what he loves. This album offers the trademark Robin Trower honey-toned "fat strat" mosaic sound we all love. All of his signature licks, chirps, tweets, crunches, scrapes, and diminished runs are there.

The issue I have is there is nothing really exciting here. RT chose to rearrange and cover mostly famous blues songs duplicated a thousand times by other rock guitar players young and old. RT offers some humility in the liner notes by admitting it difficult to surpass the originals so his rearrangements were merely an attempt to offer something new in appreciation of these great songs. Fair enough, but I don't think it works completely.

Worse still is RTs choice to take the vocal reigns on all songs. While not as disturbing as the first time I heard Satch put out an album with his vocals, RT should have rethought this strategy on a whole album given his very limited vocal range. He isn't bad within the small pocket he finds comfort. However, half of a great blues cover is the vocal. For the life of me I will never understand why so many people think they can sing blues. It is MUCH more difficult to pull off then most people think.

All that said, I do find this album entertaining. Now through multiple listens I find it to be a most enjoyable listen -especially while styling on the porch, sipping on a glass of well-crafted, very old Scotch. The low-key feel and lack of tempo differentiation on most tunes allows one to drift off in thought and just relax. Only a couple of originals here and I think those are the real highlights. Sheltered Moon is wonderful, old-school RT.

Bottom line: classic Robin Trower guitar style and a relaxing feel --3.5 stars
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on December 18, 2013
How many times have you heard "Hound Dog", "It's Alright Mama" and "Save Your Love" reinterpreted by musicians over the last 30 years? Yet, Robin Trower delivers an originally crafted remake of these old songs as though he wrote them himself. This especially comes across in his versions of "Born Under and Bad Sign" and "The Thrill is Gone" and well as all the other Blues standards on this excellent album. My absolute favorite is "Little Red Rooster". Trower's rendition of this early Willie Dixon song is head and shoulder's above the rest; great pipes, expressive guitar, and a pace that only Trower could recreate with the signature tone from his Fender Stratocaster. I love his most recent work (also check out "The Passionate Heart" and "What Lies Beneath") because he is coming into his own as a true Bluesman, right up there with the very best of them. His voice has grown deeper and "bluesier" with maturity, and his guitar work is more soulful than it's been in years. One of my favorite albums among my entire Blues collection!
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VINE VOICEon March 14, 2013
With Roots and Branches, Robin Trower has done a very difficult thing: in recording an album of mostly covers, he has managed, at least to my ears, to make every cover song both excitingly different and better than the originals. Here is a man whose music is rooted in the blues who has finally gotten around to making the kind of album that shows his listeners where he is coming from.
I like every song on the album a lot, not a dog in the bunch. But my favorites are a superior take on The Thrill is Gone, Little Red Rooster, I Believe To My Soul, That's Alright Mama, Born Under A Bad Sign, and See My Life.
The CD comes attractively packaged with only song titles and and sparse liner notes to guide you. But man, what a recording. Roots and Branches is simply stupendous!
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on November 15, 2013
I have had this cd on continuous loop in my truck for 3 weeks now. Robin shows what a true master he is, his playing is right on never over played or confusing. A real tribute to the mature master he has become. This quickly became one of my all time favorites.
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on January 25, 2016
Roots And Branches I've been a fan of Robin Trower's work since 1973's Twice Removed from Yesterday. What I enjoyed was the unique compositions of the first several albums; what doesn't impress me is the same blues structure played in every bar in every town in the US every weekend. The blues structure is very confining in verbal and musical shape, predictable, and repetitious even when performed by a top-notch technician like Robin Trower or B.B. King. When I hear song after song with beautiful tone with Robin's guitar but the same old tired blues song just tweaked and replayed, I dissociate quickly. Bridge of Sighs, For Earth Below, Hannah, Somebody Calling, Long Misty Days, Caravan to Midnight, each of these songs has a unique and recognizable Trower compositional signature that made them exciting to play the first time and enjoyable for years. Just last week, I heard a modern pop song in Starbucks that clearly sampled the background arrangement of "It's for You" from Caravan to Midnight. There's nothing distinctive about standard if nicely rendered blues songs. I can't think of any song here that's worth hearing again.
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