Song of the Week – Whiskey Train, Procol Harum

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

I first became aware of Procol Harum (like most everyone) when their 1967 evergreen hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was #1 almost everywhere in the world, except in the US where it only reached a respectable #5.  I didn’t buy the album but was interested enough in their sound that I began to follow later releases.

Their third album, A Salty Dog (1969), was and is still a favorite of mine.  Not just a favorite Procol Harum album, but a favorite album more generally.  (Two songs from that album made the SotW in November 2011.)

So I naturally picked up their 4th album, Home (1970), when it came out.  But I didn’t like Home and ended up trading it at a used record store when I was in college.  Perhaps I thirsted for the contributions of keyboardist Matthew Fisher, who had departed the band before Home was completed – though I don’t remember being focused on that at the time.  It just had a different feel that wasn’t what I was expecting or looking for.

I eventually picked up a new copy that today has a happy “home” in my record collection.  Having reconsidered, it’s a pretty good disc.  The lead track is “Whiskey Train.”

“Whiskey Train” was written by Robin Trower and Keith Reid.  This signals one of the changes from previous albums – that Trower’s guitar is taking a more prominent role in the band’s sound.  And “Whiskey Train” is the perfect example.

It has a killer, bluesy riff and a healthy dose of cowbell.  It is easy to understand how it would inspire covers by artists such as Leslie West, Blackfoot, and David Gogo.

The album cover seems cheesy at first until you realize it is a parody of the popular British board game called Snakes and Ladders.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Day of the Eagle, Robin Trower


Forty years ago, Robin Trower released his second solo album – Bridge of Sighs – named after the famous 17th century Italian structure in Venice.

To be honest, it’s not an album that I paid much attention to when it spent 31 weeks on the charts in 1974. On several occasions my good buddy Steve S has mentioned to me how much he loves this album. He was in Venice recently and it made me wonder if he was able to get to the famous Bridge to check it out. That all got me to thinking that since I have so much respect for Steve’s taste in music that I should give the record a spin again to see if it connects with me now in a way it hadn’t before.

I must admit it’s a pretty damned good album. Trower’s guitar playing is terrific, the songwriting is solid and the vocals by James Dewar (he plays bass as well) are bluesy and soulful.

The SotW is the lead of track from the album, “Day of the Eagle.”

It starts off with an aggressive guitar riff reminiscent of some of the work Trower did with Procol Harum prior to going solo, like “Whiskey Train,” but with more of a Hendrix styled power trio edge to it. This is a record meant to be played loudly!

About 3 minutes in, the song slows to a swampy blues crawl and a veeery slow fade out that provides Trower the room to throw off some tastefully emotive licks.

And it all sounds outstanding thanks to production by Trower’s former bandmate, Matthew Fisher and engineering by Geoff Emerick of Beatles fame.

Trower is still in the game. His most recent album, Roots and Branches, was released in 2013. He continues to gig and has tour dates scheduled in the UK for the spring of 2015.

Enjoy… until next week.