40 Years Ago: Robin Trower Releases ‘Bridge of Sighs’
It was in April of 1974 that English guitar hero Robin Trower unveiled his career high-watermark, ‘Bridge of Sighs.’ The sophomore effort cracked the Top 10 album and nearly made him a household name by notching an impressive 31 weeks on the U.S. charts, and many more across the globe.
The last time Trower had enjoyed so much success was as a member of Procol Harum, which he joined in 1967 shortly after their smash, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ was recorded.
But after a spell of albums that reached the Top 40, Trower decided in 1971 to strike out on his own. He assembled his own band, backed by drummer Reg Isidore and former Frankie Miller bassist James Dewar, who also took on lead vocal duties.
Together, the threesome made a very positive first impression with 1973’s ‘Twice Removed from Yesterday,’ but it was ‘Bridge of Sighs’ that saw their individual talents gelling to perfection in 1974, and, in so doing, seducing hundreds of thousands of rock fans, to the tune of a Gold certification in America.
For all of Procol Harum’s forward-looking symphonic rock, ‘Bridge of Sighs’ was, ironically, a throwback to the ’60s. Even if it was behind the the times, their Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience-inspired power trio lineup nonetheless resonated, particularly on the LP bookends, ‘Day of the Eagle’ and ‘Little Bit of Sympathy,’ and the unapologetically Free-ish ‘Lady Love.’
Even the liquid dreamscapes conveyed by the brilliantly languid title track and ‘In this Place’ tandem seemed to hark back to the previous decade — quite possibly explaining why they connected to deeply with listeners, still mourning for the quickly fading, unfulfilled promises of the Summer of Love. As such, just as the real Bridge of Sighs, located in Venice, Italy, had once transported medieval convicts from court to gallows, Trower’s masterwork carried the musical ghosts of the ‘60s into the new decade, before paying them a teary goodbye forever.