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Trevor Bolder — Sail the Rivers
(Bolder Records TBR1, 2013/2020, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-10-29

Sail the Rivers Cover art

Trevor Bolder’s place in the history of rock is cemented by his tenure in the Spiders from Mars, appearing on four of David Bowie’s studio albums (Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane, and Pinups), after which he joined Uriah Heep as that band’s primary bassist after 1976, playing bass and singing backup on a dozen or so studio albums and numerous live recordings. He also worked in Wishbone Ash and as a sideman with Mick Ronson, Ken Hensley, and others. At the time of his death in 2013, he had been working on his solo debut for some time; it was subsequently finished by family and friends and finally came out in 2020. Contributors include former bandmates like Mick Box and Lee Kerslake of Uriah Heep, Laurie Wisefield of Wishbone Ash, James Bolder, Paul Mendham, Dave Holley, Ian Bolder, Hayden Carter, Nick Horne, and Diane Gallagher. Bolder, who had provided stellar backing vocals in Heep, shares lead vocal duties with Derk Gallagher, a singer I hadn’t heard of who does an excellent job on these rocking tunes. This is classic hard rock done like it was done in the 70s, and in most ways Sail the Rivers could pass for a long lost Heep album from 1980. As such, don’t expect any progressive epics, just hard rocking songs played by a top-notch band, and on that level, the album succeeds admirably. There’s plenty of contrast and variety, including “Wasting My Time,” a largely acoustic tune with mandolin and slide guitar, and a couple of other songs that lean towards the less aggressive side, though nothing I’d call a “power ballad.” The bass playing throughout is outstanding even though it’s not up-front or taking the lead. The album is refreshingly free of any trendy digital touches or contemporary metal chugging. “Dream On” finishes the album in a touching way, a simple tune featuring Bolder completely on his own, singing multiple vocal parts and playing bass along with several acoustic guitars. It’s a fitting capstone to a long career spent mostly in the shadow of others, and testament to the quality of his behind-the-scenes contributions.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases, 2013 recordings

Related artist(s): Trevor Bolder


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