Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Forgotten Classics - Vol 3: Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs (1974 Chrysalis)

Robin Trower is a bit of a dark horse in a best-guitarist-of-all-time conversation, but his name deserves to be mentioned more often.  over a long and still running career, his atmospheric, cough medicine-drenched slow-mo Hendrix sound and tone has etched his name in guitar immortality.  he found some mainstream success as a member of Procol Harem as well as with his solo career and various collaborations, but today he is mysteriously absent from classic rock radio.  regardless, his second album with the Robin Trower Band, 1974's Bridge of Sighs, is his undisputed masterpiece and is one of rock music's most criminally under appreciated albums.

i had heard Robin Trower's name mentioned enough times over the course of a decade of online music discussions that when i saw Bridge of Sighs at a flea market for one buck, i grabbed it.  supposedly he was a helluva guitarist, that's all i knew.  when i got home i slapped it on the turntable, got right, and slipped on the headphones.  *gasp* it was one of those albums that makes you feel like a complete ass for never checking it out earlier.  it's sooo fucking good.  of course Trower is the star of the show here, but the contributions from bassist/vocalist James Dewer and dummer Reg Isidore are obvious from the beginning.  Dewer stakes his claim as one of the finest underappreciated rock singers from that era, with a deeply soulful, blue collar voice, and his bass work melded perfectly with Isidore's tasteful drumming.  their rhythm section formed a seamless foundation for Trower's cosmos-travelling solos.

so here's the Robin Trower Band's Bridge of Sighs.   it's too bad that the second song, the title track, isn't tattooed on our collective classic rock consciousness.  it truly is one of the most magical and mystical pieces of guitar music ever made.

Bridge of Sighs  (1974 )

Before recording Bridge of Sighs, Robin Trower was an English guitiarist who got his start in 1967 with Procol Harum, stepping in just after their Summer of Love anthem "Whiter Shade of Pale."  He split in 1971 after five albums, and eventually formed the Robin Trower Band with bassist/vocalist James Dewer and drummer Reg Isidore. 

Originally, Dewer was bassist in the Scottish blues group Stone the Crow with vocalist Maggie Bell, which was managed and championed by Led Zeppelin's Peter Grant.  he eventually moved on and teamed up with the now-single Trower and Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker for a group called Jude.  the band never recorded and quickly disbanded. Trower and Dewer continued on and brought in the West Indian-born, London-based drummer Reg Isidore in December of 1972.  "Reggie was the first drummer we auditioned," said Trower. "Reggie came down for a jam and we played together for about ten minutes, and i said, right... that's it... you're in, like it or not!" 

Twice Removed From Yesterday, the Robin Trower Band's first album in 1973, sets an immediate mood... slower, longer, more dramatic stoned guitar jams... the first three tracks, "I Can't Wait Much Longer," "Daydream," and "Hannah" form a sprawling spaced out epic with some of the very best guitar shit you will ever hear.  the seeds for Bridge of Sighs originate here.

Reg Isidore left the Robin Trower Band after the release of Bridge of Sighs, but Trower and Dewer continued on with drummer Bill Lordan for the rest of the decade.  For Earth Below in 1975 and Long Misty Days the following year continue on with the Sighs signature sound, and even though they fall short of matching that record's ridiculous classicness, they are well worth checking out.

Long Misty Days (1976)

Dewer left in 1983, and Trower continued on with a variety of projects, most notably three albums with Cream bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce.  Dewer passed away in 2002 after a botched surgery.  Trower continues to record and tour. 

No comments:

Post a Comment