`Roots and Branches' is a fine collection of classic covers and original songs. For those of us who have kept tabs on Mr T since his trail-blazing, guitar hero days of the seventies, this new CD is further proof, if proof were needed, that Robin's playing just gets better and better, more soulful and expressive than ever.
'Roots' is a tribute album to some of Mr T's musical heroes - BB King, Howlin' Wolf, Booker T et al. My favourite cover has to be Robin's fabulous arrangement of Ray Charles' `I Believe To My Soul'. It's the blues, perfectly stated. 'One of these days and it won't be long' cries singer Richard Watts. We get whispered falsetto backing vocals, then underneath Robin's soulful solo, the swell of rich chords from Luke Smith's keys. Everything about it, is just so right. The vocal touch, the pauses, the expectation, the subtlety all makes for something completely different.
The Trower tunes on `Roots' are very much in keeping with the special vibe which producer Livingstone Brown and the band create on the covers. `When I Heard Your Name' is a dark and sultry affair led by drummer Chris Taggart and his battery of floor toms. You can almost imagine Richard Watts standing at the mike, alongside his fellow backing singers, dressed in their sharply-cut DJs, synchronising every arm, leg and head movement, well into the mould of those Motown, Stax and Atlantic vocal groups of the 60s and 70s. All that's missing here is the horn section!