"Sure, Trower sounded like Hendrix, but he certainly didn't play like him": Robin Trower's classic Bridge Of Sighs gets a lavish 50th birthday makeover

British guitar hero Robin Trower’s finest hour, expanded

Robin Trower: Bridge Of Sighs (50th Anniversary) cover art
(Image: © Chrysalis)

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Possibly peaking too soon, Robin Trower's career-defining second album came out in 1974 and propelled him into the pantheon of the Second Wave Of British Blues Guitarists.

Bridge Of Sighs never made the British chart, but spent over five months in the US chart, reaching No.7. The snobby British blues clique branded him a Jimi Hendrix copyist without bothering to listen beneath the surface. Sure, Trower sounded like Hendrix, but he certainly didn't play like him, eschewing Hendrix's fuzz and feedback, and focusing on the reverb from his own Stratocaster, his distinctive use of the whammy bar and his own melodic sense with its emphasis on single notes and tone.

Bridge Of Sighs also added a new dimension to the concept of a power trio, broadening the boundaries from the opening Day Of The Eagle with its strong, speedy riff before Trower launches into a blistering solo. He then takes the tempo right down without dropping the intensity in preparation for the slow and lugubrious title track. And you become aware of how well Trower's guitar dovetails with bassist Jimmy Dewar's alcohol-soaked vocals as he sings: 'The sun don't move, the moon don't move the tides to wash me clean.' 

Heart's Ann Wilson, who covered the song on her 2022 Fierce Bliss album, says it's "one of the best blues songs ever written". Steve Lukather, who featured it on his I Found The Sun Again album a year earlier, would doubtless concur, and you'll also find a segment of it appearing as a hidden track on Metallica's 1998 covers album Garage Inc.

The other standout track is the funk-tinged Too Rolling Stoned, which again switches tempo midway through, allowing Trower to cruise leisurely into a state of bliss. But in truth there's scarcely a dud among the eight tracks, all of which have a one-take feel to them, giving the album a live-in-the-studio immediacy.

The first CD of this four-disc set remasters the original mix, the second remixes the original tapes, broadening the sound and separating the instruments without losing the density of sound, and the third has a 1974 live US radio show from the Record Plant in Sausalito. There are also numerous previously unreleased out-takes and alternative and instrumental versions spread around. A Blu-ray disc, with its 5.1 mix, is a blast for audiophiles.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.