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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 11 December 2010
Well, how is the most unsung guitar legend in rock history performing in his mid 60's ?
Pretty amazingly well IMHO.
You might think he stopped playing live long ago and now occasionally puts out a token studio album. If so, you couldn't be more wrong ! He's recently completed a tour of Europe and the UK prior to an exhaustive tour of the USA starting early next year. And he's been doing the same thing for the last few years ! Check out the double live RT@RO 08 cd and hear a master virtuoso at work.
For this latest album, in essence Trower uses his road band and they are one seriously tight unit, honed to perfection over many tours - I think a special mention is due here for Pete Thompson, who is a simply awesome drummer.
This is the first (band) album of new material since 'Living Out Of Time' released in 2004 and that album was an excellent collection of original songs. And previous to that, the next stand out album was 'Go My Way' circa 2000. So it seems that around every 5 years something a bit special is released. Well 2010 has followed that progression, 'The Playful Heart' for the most part is song writing and playing of the highest calibre. In fact, for me, the soloing on some tracks is right out of Trowers top drawer and that's saying something when you take into consideration his glory years of the mid 70's - Bridge of Sighs etc !
Firstly, the cd sounds fantastic (especially on high end ear phones or Hi-Fi) courtesy of long time Trower collaborator Livingston Brown taking care of production.
The cd couldn't start any better. The title track is a fabulous song, instantly memorable not least due to unusual chords and chord sequences that Trower creates effortlessly. He also comes up with quirky and thought provoking lyrics. Over the years his songwriting has developed to a level that is now very very impressive. Trower is now not only a master guitarist, he is a master composer. The second track `Don't Look Back' in fact is a look back to classic TrowerPower of the 70's with an absolutely steaming solo. Robin sings on this song and also on maybe half of all tracks. There is a lot of debate about his vocals. My view is that he sings OK and his vocals can be quite effective on some songs, but it's just that Davey Pattison is significantly better. No one will ever be as effective with Trowers material as the late, great James Dewar, notwithstanding that Jimmy was much more involved by way of playing bass and co-writing songs, but Davey does an excellent job with both new and old material. Just listening to him let rip on classics like `Day Of The Eagle' or `Shame The Devil' is a treat.
Other impressive songs are `Dressed in Gold' which contains echoes of Hendrix's `All Along The Watchtower', `Song For Those Who Fell' is an up tempo rocker, with another sensational solo. `Maybe I Can Be A Friend' is the stand out ballad with great vocals from Davey and a delicious, ethereal outro passage. This is matched by the second half of `The Turning', where Robin again displays his unique gifts of scintillating technique and a tone that hits you right in the heart and soul.
If you like guitar effects, Mr. Trower will not disappoint. He's developed these over the years to the extent that he now has them specially built to his specifications, whether it's overdrive, sustain, fuzz, wah or his signature deja-vibe / 'Bridge of Sighs' effect. All these in combination with his Signature series Fender Stratocaster create something very special and aurally spine tingling.
This album is growing on me as I listen to it more. Serious guitar based rock doesn't really get much better than this and I really hope Trower gets the rewards he deserves for such an impressive effort.
Please do yourself a favour and see this band live on stage before he calls it a day, you will not regret it !
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2011
'You've done it Robin'. You've made an album that even surpasses 'Bridge of Sighs'. 'The Playful Heart' is outstanding and IMO is the ultimate Robin Trower studio album. Some of the reviews below go into detail about the songs so I am not going to repeat it. Having much preferred the 70s Trower music and really not been touched too much by the rest except for some outstanding live albums and one or two exceptions, Robin has reached his peak again. I particularly like his jazzy, soulful rich chord structured solos to his blues rock playing and this album is in abundance with his jazz, soulful style of playing. Also the songwriting is strong and tuneful and the singing is good as well. In my book track 10 is the only weak number on the album, the rest is magnificent. 'The Playful Heart' is his best album.
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on 16 December 2010
I wasn't going to add my twopenneth to this, but was forced into doing so by the one star review from someone that hasn't actually heard this CD yet.
This is an excellent album. To my ears, it's very reminiscent of his early work. Some great, typically Trower, guitar work and the vocals are not a problem either.
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on 28 February 2011
Like my review for his last CD stated... I'm a huge Mr. Trower fan, but dear God, his singing is cringeworthy! The tracks he sings on are just unplayable for me. Ouch... Believe me it hurts me to say it! The wonderful Mr. Davey Pattison sings roughly half the tracks and as you'd ecpect a BIG difference when he does. More of DP here or anywhere else... PLEASE?

I know you are not making money from your CD's these days, Robin (I assume not, as that seems to be the state of the market) and you want to enjoy yourself and try something new -but your limited vocals (to be kind) are reflected in and affecting the guitar parts -at least to my ears - on the songs you do sing. So, not much to savour there either.

You are a stunning and soulful guitar player and a great, great song writer.. can't you just say two out three ain't bad? (Forgive me for a little paraphrasing Mr. Loaf)

A RT fan (still!)
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on 19 June 2011
This to me is what Robin Trower is all about, I liked the last album but not as much as this one. It has all the hallmarks of the earlier records some great riffs and classic Trower Guitar sounds that dig into your soul, classic use of the wah wah pedal in parts of "dressed in Gold " remind me of " All Along The Watchtower".
The title track is brilliant and drives along with great drumming and guitar work.
I feel a subtle connection between this album and the "Passion" album of the eighties, which I felt was one of the best engineered records I had ever heard.
My favorite track is no3 "The Turning" I like the riff and the way it moves on, to then slow right down with some lovely slow guitar breaks, moving stuff ! I love it.
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on 4 April 2015
This is an excellent album by a vastly underated guitarist. I am so fed up of Robin Trower being compared to Hendrix. (an influence obviously ). He has his own unique sound, style and technique. If you can, catch him on his 2015 uk tour. He is incredible live on stage. If I had the money, I would go to every date.
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on 1 January 2013
I am so fed up with Trower being compared to Hendrix. There was a comparison 40 years ago but the people who go on and on about it what are you comparing it with, you can listen to all Hendrix stuff in a few hours and half of it is crap. Trower got through the 80 synthesizer years (how would hendrix have got through that) and plays and bends the notes like nobody around. I see all his performances when he is over here and he doesnt get a chance to play his apres 2000 stuff because the dinosaurs who turn up go to the bar if Day Of The Eagle isnt in the first 5 tracks. His guitar makes you cry. Forget his voice, its a vehicle for the guitar to ride upon. he once stated that he plays guitar because he cant sing and the human voice is the most beautiful musical force there is, so he plays guitar which to him is the next most beautiful thing. Stop comparing him and get on with it because there is no better artist alive
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on 26 November 2012
It is so nice to hear someone making real music these days. I have just revisited Trower's music in the last 2 weeks. I used to have For Earth Below on record when it first came out. I love that album and Brige of Sighs, so thought I would see what he's up to now. What a pleasant surprise. Excellent stuff, and no reason I can find to rate less than 5 stars.
I also reccommend Seven Moons with Jack Bruce.
Thanks Robin Trower. I will be in England next summer so may see where you are playing.
Cheers from downunder(NZ)!
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on 9 September 2011
This latest RT CD is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least, after coming back to Robin Trower's music after a long gap, I was most impressed with "Living out of Time". Sadly "Playful Heart" is let down by poorer songs and frankly awful vocals. Please Mr Trower stick to playing guitar! Unfortunately even Davey Pattison is not up to his usual high standard. The guitar playing is good as usual but I feel it lacks that extra something that you get when Mr Trower just plays guitar.

Not an awful album, but it could have been so much better if Davey Pattison had done all the singing and RT had just concentrated on his proper job -- Guitar.

A Wasted oportunity.
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I am very excited Robin Trower continues to release high quality music and this CD is exceptional stuff.
His guitar tone is what really draws me to him, compared to the recent Eric Clapton CDs there no comparison, Trower absolutely annihilates Clapton's guitar work and sound plus his songs are very strong with great melody.

Favorite tracks are - Song For Those Who Fell (Jimi Hendrix Freedom)& Maybe I Can Be A Friend, Prince Of Shattered Dreams. In fact the last 6 tracks are the strongest on the CD.

A must get, I love it !
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