Bridge Of Sighs

Robin Trower

Chrysalis Records, 1974

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/02/1997

I feel like I owe reader Joe Temborious an apology.

You see, Joe has been a loyal reader almost from the beginning. His suggestion gave me the kick in the kiester I needed to post the complete listing of albums we've reviewed here. Every once in a while, Joe will e-mail me a suggestion, almost as if to keep me on my toes.

A few weeks ago, Joe e-mailed me with another suggestion: Robin Trower's 1974 release Bridge Of Sighs. Fortunately, he sent his request days before I went to my favorite used record store for their annual mega-sale. I was able to snag a copy of Bridge Of Sighs for a whopping 20 cents. But after repeated listens to this album, not only do I think I overpaid, but I'm afraid I'm going to anger Joe to the point of turning to a site like Mr. Showbiz.

Trower was an influential member of the British band Procol Harum, and played on their first and biggest hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." (Trivia question: Who was the original guitarist whom Trower replaced? Answer - Ray Royer.) According to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Rolling Stone, Trower made his influence in the band known on albums like Home, taking the band into a harder-edged direction. (I can't vouch for this, as I have yet to add these releases to the Pierce Memorial Archives.) In 1971, Trower left the band, eventually forming a power trio.

But one would expect Trower to be a more powerful guitarist - he has been described as Hendrix-influenced - than he really is. His guitar riffs tend to be a combination of blues and jazz, though he can't decide which he wants his music to really be. The songs themselves have a bit of a blues flavor to them, Bassist/vocalist James Dewar sounds a bit like Chris Farlowe, and his bass work is solid enough. Drummer Reg Isidore provides a decent, though under-powered, backbeat.

And some of the songs do have a bit of bite to them, like "The Fool And Me". And Joe's favorite track, "Day Of The Eagle," is decent enough. However, while Trower may have tried to influence Procol Harum's sound, it turns out that Procol Harum ends up influencing Trower's sound - perhaps this is because former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher produced this album. I wish I could say this influence is a welcome addition - when Trower and crew drag out the songs, like on "Too Rolling Stoned," the end result is quite weakened.

What could have helped? First, Trower needed some muscle behind his guitar riffs. He tends to downgrade his role in the band and let the music speak for itself - bad move. Second, Trower needed to speed things up a bit. When the tempo is increased, like on "The Fool And Me," Trower is able to keep the listener interested. When things slow down, they tend to become introspective messes. Third, Trower needs to find a way to make the music more interesting - this is kind of related to my last point. Finally, ditch the unrecognizable album covers - what the fuck is that supposed to be?

I guess if you're into Procol Harum or art-rock, you'll get more out if Bridge Of Sighs than I did. And it's not that I don't listen to art-rock on a regular basis - keep an eye out for a review of Yes later this week. Maybe this album would have meant something to me in 1974. It just does nothing for me.

Sorry, Joe - the thrills of being a rock music critic means I'll eventually anger everyone I come in contact with.

Rating: C-

User Rating: A


Comments

The reason I have continued to return to this site is because I enjoyed Christopher's reviews. They are all well written, funny, and he has good taste in music. With that being said, he completely missed the boat on this one. "Bridge of Sighs" is one the best guitar oriented albums I've ever heard. Robin Trower offers dishes up some of the best guitar ever, James Dewar voice is great, honest to God, I always thought the man was Black. And the songs all have memorable hooks. Buy this CD, IT'S GREAT!
ESSENTIAL.








© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Chrysalis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.