Monday, 17 June 2013

1974 Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs

Robin Trower, 'Little Bit of Sympathy'

Info: Robin Trower was born in Catford, South East London, in March 1945, but grew up in the seaside town of Southend-on-Sea in Essex where he began playing the guitar from his early teens. His early life was quite disrupted, the family moved to Canada when he was 7 years of age and then to New Zealand, before he returned back to Southend where his grandmother was now living. Trower's mother also passed away when he was young, and in a strange twist of fate, his father remarried and it would be his stepmother who would have the greatest influence on his early interest in music. In Procol Harum: Beyond the Pale, by Claes Johansen, Trower also recalls his older brother Mick bringing home American records, and being blown away by Elvis Presley in particular, then, aged fourteen, he received his first guitar for Christmas, 1959.

After cutting his teeth in his first band, The Raiders, with his older brother and some school-mates, Trower moved back to London and went on to form covers band, The Paramounts, who released a number of singles between 1963-65. In 1967, just following the international success of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', old acquaintance Gary Brooker asked Trower to join Procol Harum. It turned out to be a match made in heaven as Trower helped tighten up the band musically on successive albums from 1967-1971. In 1973, Trower decided to go out on his own, eager to express his guitar and song-writing skills outside of the constricts of a band, acquiring James Dewar on vocals and bass and Reg Isidore on drums. The debut album, Twice Removed From Yesterday, made only a small ripple in the charts, however, his second release, Bridge of Sighs stormed both the US and UK charts, reaching #7 Stateside. In the liner notes for the album, Trower humbly attributed this success to others, from engineer Geoff Emerick (who came up with the idea of placing microphones at various distances to the guitar when recording), to Dewar's vocals, Reggie (sic) Isidore's soulful drumming, and relentless touring in advance of it's release.

Bridge of Sighs does not contain one wasted track, or a wasted second as far as I'm concerned from superb rocking opener 'Day Of The Eagle' which could easily have been a Thin Lizzy number with it's fast-paced guitar and thumping bass. Title track 'Bridge of Sighs' was the first Robin Trower song I ever heard years ago, long before I'd got to listen to the whole album after I managed to pick it up recently on vinyl. This song is a beautifully enchanting slow burner, and conjures images of the Ferryman of the Dead, Charon, slowly rowing his boat through Hades and passing under the bridge of sighs. My other favourite is 'Little Bit of Sympathy' which is the video above, I think it's a good example of Trower's excellent ability on guitar, he was often called 'The White Hendrix' and you can certainly hear that in his style, not to mention being a Fender advocate like Hendrix. You may also enjoy Trower's facial contortions in the video, which are entertaining to watch, but also highlight how he is completely connected to his guitar and the rest of the band. I've also included a video for 'Bridge of Sigh's' below, as it is undoubtedly the best track on the album, which is saying a lot considering how strong each of the 8 songs are. While it's wasteful and simplistic to merely compare Trower to Hendrix, if you are a fan of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and songs such as 'Burning of the Midnight Oil' and 'Voodoo Chile' you will thoroughly enjoy this album, guaranteed.

Robin Trower, 'Bridge of Sighs', 1974

Track Listing:

1. Day of the Eagle
2. Bridge of Sighs
3. In This Place
4. The Fool and Me
5. Too Rolling Stoned
6. About to Begin
7. Lady Love
8. Little Bit of Sympathy

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