Review Summary: Some great, overlooked classic rock from a generally underrated guitarist.
My father is the one responsible for getting me into music and he did so by showing me some of the best from his era, that era being the 1970’s. He showed me albums like Led Zeppelin IV, Boston, Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones), and this album, Bridge of Sighs by British blues guitarist, Robin Trower. This used to be one of my favorites as a kid and I hadn’t listened to it again until recently. Listening to it again, now with more of an open mind to different kinds of music, I feel like I can say that I can fully appreciate this wonderful record. It’s a very fun listen with enough flashy licks to satisfy the guitar player.
I knew as a kid that this was certainly a great offering upon hearing the title track, “Bridge of Sighs”. Through listening to this song, I felt that I knew what a guitar should sound like. Robin Trower’s guitar roars (literally) through the surreal soundscapes set by the ambient textures. Vocalist and Bassist James Dewar does great in both of his respective departments; his singing perfectly complements the hypnotizing guitar line and his skills as a bassist shouldn’t be overlooked as he is definitely technically proficient and does well alongside drummer Reg Isidore. That being said, Reg definitely ain’t a slouch on the kit. Yeah, this song is slow, but going slow on the kit isn’t quite as easy as most would think. Most musicians’ ideal tempo is around 112 beats per minute and this song is around 45-50 and he does it quite nonchalantly to say the least. You’re probably thinking now, “Man, if this song is so slow then how in the world could I possibly listen to it without nodding off or something?” That my friend brings us back to those ambient textures I love to rave about. Without any ambiance or reverb behind the song it would surely be a dozer but these “sonic decorations”, if you will, keep the listener on edge. The lyrics are pretty great as well:
The sun don't shine
The moon don't move the tides,
to wash me clean
Sun don't shine
The moon don't move the tides,
to wash me clean
Why so unforgiving and why so cold
Been a long time crossing Bridge of Sighs
“Bridge of Sighs” was written about a bridge in Venice, Italy of the same name where criminals waited to cross to their imprisonment; getting their last glimpse of the outside world. Truly heavy stuff if you ask me. This album certainly provides for the “Goldilocks principle”, as the songs are never too indulgent and fall just correctly within the realm of good songwriting. In a matter of speaking, Robin Trower and co. certainly knew how to stir the porridge on this release.
As far as riffs go, “Bridge of Sighs” is packed with them. Trower plays with a jazzy flare and is never too flashy as all the licks are there simply to provide for the music instead of showing off his chops (cough Yngwie Malmsteen cough). Both “Day of the Eagle” and “Too Rolling Stoned” feature a very catchy funk laced riff and how could anybody forget the aforementioned title track’s main riff? “The Fool in Me” features a funky stomping rhythm section which is a perfect partner to Trower’s riff-age. The solo in this song is probably my favorite off the album behind “Bridge of Sighs” on the “just right” scale. Trower enters with a chaotically strummed set of 9th chords and then proceeds to tear the face off the listener with his guitar expertise. Even on the more jamming tracks, “Bridge of Sighs” doesn’t falter or fail in anyway.
However, this album really shines when the group goes softer. “About to Begin” is a perfect change of pace from the rocking tracks. The track features a waltz-y rhythm from the drum set, mellow tones from Trower and some emotionally charged vocals from James Dewar. Dewar’s voice though sometimes having an imposing masculinity on other tracks really calms down on this one. If placed anywhere else in the tracklist, this song wouldn’t have the effect it has. “In This Place” also provides more room for Dewar to shine as well as effectively changing the pace from the title track before it.
In conclusion, with “Bridge of Sighs”, Robin Trower succeeds, but he didn’t do it alone. Without James Dewar or Reg Isidore this would have been a different release. On most songs, Trower is the highlight though on some tracks like “The Fool in Me”, the rhythm section really shines. Overall, this is a wonderful release. If you’re a fan of cool guitar riffs or just a fan of classic rock in general, this is definitely a release for you.
“Bridge of Sighs”
“The Fool in Me”
“About to Begin”
“Little Bit of Sympathy”