Saturday, January 9, 2010

Robin Trower: Bridge of Sighs

Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” is one of the great LPs in rock history; however, the mainstream listener may not be familiar with the former Procul Harum guitarist’s second solo album. I got my first copy of this album two years after its 1974 release when I purchased another college student’s entire record collection.

This album quickly became one of my favorites and Trower’s playing was reminiscent of the guitar wizardry of Jimi Hendrix. This was something that was not overtly present on Trower’s recordings with Procul Harum, as the band tended to emphasize Matthew Fisher’s organ and Gary Brooker’s piano.

After selecting the album for today, I had an equally difficult time in selecting one song to feature. Eventually, I narrowed it to four of the eight cuts: “Day of the Eagle,” “Bridge of Sighs,” “In this Place,” and “Lady Love.” While the song “Bridge of Sighs” is my particular favorite from this album, the old radio programmer in me suggested that I find something a little more mainstream; and hence, I have chosen “In This Place.”

I first heard this album on WAMX in Ashland, KY when they were playing album rock at night. This was four to five years before I started working there.  The nighttime format often was referred to as being underground.  During the day, WAMX played an adult contemporary mix.

From what I read on my friend Jeff Miller’s site about West Virginia radio, John Davidson was the pioneer of the album rock format on this station; however, I do not remember listening to him. The name I normally associate with the nighttime album format at WAMX was Bob Lee (whose real name was Bobby Leach). Bob would play some of the best music at night and “Bridge of Sighs” was one of the albums I remember hearing Bob play during his shift.

The album features the late James Dewar’s vocals and bass, as well as the drumming of Reg Isidore. Not only did Trower capture the spirit of Hendrix’s talent, the power trio is not unlike the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Trower’s Procul Harum band mate Matthew Fisher produced this album. Originally released in 1974 with a green cover, these began to be replaced by a white colored version of the same image in the late 1970s.

My second copy of “Bridge of Sighs” came into my possession in 1981. That spring, I purchased a used automobile that was equipped with an 8-Track player. So I immediately headed to our local National Record Mart and purchased three 8-Track tapes. “Bridge of Sighs” joined the company of tapes by Bob Marley and Ronnie Laws. If you haven’t figured out already, I am very eclectic in my musical tastes. By the way, the 8-Track had the white photo.

Venice's Bridge of Sighs. Photo by Maria Schnitzmeier. 
Used under permission of Creative Commons License.

Named for the famed structure in Venice, “Bridge of Sighs” topped the American charts at #7 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America during the same year as its release. For your listening pleasure, I have included a YouTube playlist that affords you the opportunity to listen to this album in its entirety.

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