[Review] Robin Trower: Bridge of Sighs (1974)

Trower’s classic second album is a feast for fans of psychedelic blues-rock guitar.

Kronomyth 2.0: Rocking horse.

Bridge of Sighs is Robin Trower’s breakthrough album. The songs are faster, the guitar tones are fantastic and the whole thing is a stoned groove. I’m not one of those wankers that gets off on guitar tones (admittedly, I’m a worse kind of wanker that gets off on discographical data), but this album is all about the sound of Robin Trower’s guitar. Engineer Geoff Emerick (The Beatles, Paul McCartney) deserves more than a little credit there for giving Bridge of Sighs the same saturated sound as Abbey Road and Band on the Run, two of my favorite albums.

Twice Removed From Yesterday favored the smoldering, thoughtful side of Jimi Hendrix. Bridge of Sighs has its share of slow, hypnotic grooves (Bridge of Sighs, In This Place, About to Begin), but it’s the heavier numbers that characterize the album. Day of the Eagle leaps out of the speakers, Lady Love too. And then there’s the classic Too Rolling Stoned, on which Trower takes the entire song on to his shoulders and carries it to new heights of electric guitar orgasmic bliss. That song should be required listening for anyone planning to plug a guitar into an effects pedal.

Bridge of Sighs is the last album to feature the original trio of Trower, James Dewar and Reg Isidore, who were collectively, confusingly referred to as Robin Trower the band. Trower apparently didn’t trouble himself much with names; the album was titled after a racehorse he spotted in the paper called Bridge of Sighs. Where his genius lies is in the tones he coaxes from his guitar. He wasn’t the fastest guitarist and probably not the flashiest (although there’s plenty of flash in his playing). But from the opening moments of “Bridge of Sighs,” you’ve crossed over into a whole other realm where the guitar is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing beast.

James Dewar tends to get overshadowed as a result, but he’s a top-notch blues-rock singer. While he’s no Jack Bruce on the bass, he holds his own among the also-rans and sings rings around Gary Brooker. Reg Isidore, who would be replaced on the next album, rocks steady, again no better or worse than Corky Laing, which is a polite way of saying not Ginger Baker.

The Jimi Hendrix comparisons this time are fewer as Trower and the band come into their own, the Cream comparisons likely a bother for everyone who came after. It does, however, underscore a shift in idols. In the 60s, everyone wanted to be The Beatles. In the 70s, every guitarist wanted to be Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. After Bridge of Sighs, a lot of them probably wanted to be Robin Trower too. The blues-rock power trio would soon fall out of fashion, but Bridge of Sighs remains timeless for anyone who wants to get their electric guitar groove on.

Read more Robin Trower reviews

Original elpee version

A1. Day of the Eagle (5:04)
A2. Bridge of Sighs (5:05)
A3. In This Place (4:26)
A4. The Fool and Me (Robin Trower/James Dewar) (3:57)
B1. Too Rolling Stoned (7:29)
B2. About to Begin (3:43)
B3. Lady Love (Robin Trower/James Dewar) (3:21)
B4. Little Bit of Sympathy (4:20)

All songs written by Robin Trower unless noted.

CD reissue bonus track (Mobile Fidelity)
9. Day of the Eagle (single version)

CD reissue bonus tracks
9. Day of the Eagle (live)
10. Bridge of Sighs (live)
11. Too Rolling Stoned (live)
12. Lady Love (live)
13. Little Bit of Sympathy (live)

The Players

James Dewar (bass and vocals), Reg Isidore (drums), Robin Trower (guitar). Produced by Matthew Fisher; engineered by Geoff Emerick.

The Pictures

Cover design by Funky Paul.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in April 1974* in the UK (Chrysalis, CHR.1057) and the US and Japan (Chrysalis, CHR/CHR M5C 1057) [green label]; reached #7 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record). (*First appeared in 4/6/74 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Chrysalis, WWS-80921).
  2. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Chrysalis, CCH 1057).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Chrysalis, CHR 1057) [blue+white label].
  4. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Chrysalis, CHR 1057) [blue+white label w/ barcode].
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in 1985 in the US (Chrysalis, VK 41057).
  6. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the US (Chrysalis, PV/PVT 41057) [butterfly art label].
  7. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Chrysalis, FVT 41057).
  8. Re-packaged with Twice Removed From Yesterday on remastered 2-for-1 compact disc in 1996 in the UK (BGO, BGOCD339).
  9. Re-released on expanded, 24-bit remastered compact disc in 1999 in the US (Chrysalis, 20611-2) with 5 bonus tracks.
  10. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in the US (Friday Music, 2942110571).
  11. Re-packaged on 24k gold remastered, expanded compact disc in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 684) with one bonus track.
  12. Re-packaged as part of Original Album Series on 5CD box set on January 20, 2014 in Europe (Chrysalis, 2564636164-1/5).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.