Robin Trower - Bridge Of Sighs
Robin Trower never really got the accolades he was due at the time he was at his peak. It is only now that he is really recognised as one of the true greats of the guitar. Part of this is down to the negative impressions he created in the mind of many. Criticism that he imitated Hendrix is largely unfair – Trower played blues rock with a force and style that he made his own. And even so, he always admitted his debt to Hendrix, though that admission is regarded by some as a heresy rather than adopting the old maxim that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Yet scant mention is ever made of the enormous contribution Trower made to the sound of Procul Harum.
Trower, although English, can be seen as an epitome of the mid-seventies style of American blues guitar rather than any native British influence. Yet his work, especially on this album should rather be seen as almost mid-Atlantic in its provenance, mixing languid and moody guitar solos with some blistering riffs. What complements all this perfectly is the vocal style of James Dewar. Dewar’s vocal has the sort of style which has influenced generations of musicians beyond the seventies and one can still hear echoes of it in bands such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, a sort of rough delivery combined with a refined pace and mood.
On Bridge of Sighs he shows off his skill to the maximum and this album is rightly regarded as his finest moment. "Day of the Eagle" sets off the album as it means to go on, but in the title track, Trower really shows off his virtuosity with a blues number, replete with looping guitar work that is hard to find in anyone else’s repertoire. Right the way through it carries on with some excellent extended guitar solos, tight drumming and innovative bass.
It is very hard to pick out the best in what is a consistently good collection of songs. This is music to be played late at night, when the bottle is nearly empty and you want something to listen to which will wind down a long hard day for you. The bass intro on “Too Rolling Stoned” in some ways epitomises this feeling, as do many of the slower songs which were just designed to be played in a relaxed atmosphere, far from any pressures, with the intention of just letting the music wash over you and iron out any lingering tensions.
Perhaps Robin Trower's lack of contemporary recognition was due to the fact that he always lived in the shadow of others such as Page and Blackmore. But it is not too late to discover Robin Trower and this album is the finest in his entire catalogue. I recall long ago, in a more impecunious age, that I had this album down on my wishlist. In those days a wishlist was a little scrap of paper you kept somewhere, like the back of your schoolbook, just in case you needed it. Then along came punk and a few other interruptions and by the time I was pecunious (?) enough, I had lost interest. I for one am glad I came back to it many years later. I eschewed the vinyl and now have the extended CD with a clutch of really good bonus live tracks. If nothing else these shows off Trower at his true best - live - and exemplifies how he was a master of his craft.
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