Robin Trower’s 10 Top Songs

By Paul Rigg

English rock guitarist Robin Trower was born on 9 March 1945, but first came to prominence when he joined Procol Harum at the age of 22. Following four successful years with the band he eventually moved on to lead his own power trio, The Robin Trower Band. Among the many top guitarists he influenced is Robert Fripp, who was so impressed with Trower’s talent that he took guitar lessons from him. Probably the Englishman’s best-known album is 1974’s Bridge of Sighs, but he has released over two dozen studio records: here are Guitar Exchange’s top 10 songs: 

10. Hannah, Twice Removed from Yesterday (1973)

was the third track on Trower’s first solo album. Written by bassist and vocalist James Dewar, drummer Reg Isidore, and Trower, the track has a gentle bluesy feel to it and contains surprising musical twists and turns, as well as lyrics that are replete with longing: “Hannah, distance surrounds you everwhere, Hannah, living in memories I can't share, Living a life, wide as the sky, Hannah, mmmm let me love you.”


9. Caledonia, Long Misty Days (1976)

The funk-driven Caledonia recalls the Blaxploitation era as it explodes with a rapid riff and two soaring solos at around 1’30”  and 2’30”. The chorus:
Caledonia, who could own ya, Spirit of romance, Caledonia, Caledonia, dance” may not sound too inspiring on paper, but it has a great hook that will leave you humming.


8. Daydream, Twice Removed from Yesterday (1973)

Trower benefitted from being compared to Hendrix but it also sometimes overshadowed his own unique trajectory. With the spacey Daydream Trower clearly sought to pay homage to his idol as the introduction recalls Little Wing; however take a listen to the guitar solo and you’ll know that Trower is very much his own man.


7. Lonesome Road, Coming Closer To The Day (2019)

Trower was well into his seventies when he released this song that concerned some because of the album title and this lyric: “Look out lonesome road, I may have to quit you someday soon.” However he clarified in an interview that the words are "about me thinking about how much longer I can go on touring, and it's about my career and my life, as well." Musically the song is heavily grounded in the blues; though his comment that "All the great blues is behind us now” would today be challenged by
Joe Bonamassa, among many others.


6. Little Bit of Sympathy, Bridge of Sighs (1974)

Little Bit of Sympathy
has rightly been lauded as being among Trower’s greatest guitar work. It is not easy to choose between this album version and that which appears on 1997’s Robin Trower Live; but I would marginally choose the latter because of its raw energy. The Live album reportedly emerged from a Swedish radio broadcast of a performance in 1975, and showcases the complicity and understanding between Trower and Dewar.


5. Day of the Eagle, Bridge of Sighs (1974)

Day of the Eagle
opens Bridge of Sighs with a blast of guitar before Dewar enters with the immortal lines: “I saw a light, just up ahead, But I couldn't seem to rise up from my bed, I'm not alone, then I am, People seem to think I'm superman, But I watch for the love, I'm living in the day of the eagle, the eagle not the, dove.” Anecdotally, Day of the Eagle, was code for 13 August, 1940, which was the day the Nazis planned to bring down the British radar system during the Battle of Britain.


4. Too Rolling Stoned, Bridge of Sighs (1974)

On an album packed with top-quality songs, Too Rolling Stoned has an extended funky groove and a lyric that evokes
Dylan, the Stones and er…one too many spliffs: “That stone keeps on rollin', Bringin' me some real bad news, Takers get the honey, Givers sing the blues […] Please be so kind not to wake me, I think I'll just sit this one out…”


3. Shame the Devil, For Earth Below (1975)

The blues track Shame The Devil features some cracking bass guitar, fine use of the wah-wah pedal and some of Trower’s best work on his famous Fender Strat. So many of the accompanying videos feature his Strat that some might imagine he had always favoured it. However before touring with
Jethro Tull in 1971 Trower largely played Les Pauls; it was only by chance that one day he arrived promptly for a sound check and decided to pick up Martin Barre's Stratocaster that was leaning against an amp. Reportedly his scream of "This is it!" could be heard all around the concert hall as he played it; and he never looked back.


2. I Can't Wait Much Longer, Twice Removed from Yesterday (1973)

Trower’s solos are often a focus of his songs, but on the bluesy I Can’t Wait Much Longer his rhythm guitar is also a highlight. Lyrically the song
relates the story of a woman who “hasn't yet made up her mind if she'll take me,” with the yearning growing stronger and more painful as the tune unfolds. Finally, the protagonist faces up to the truth and knows he has to take the darker route: “Now listen, I'll get my coat and catch a train, Make my way to New Orleans, Find seven houses soaked in gin, To console me…”


1. Bridge of Sighs, Bridge of Sighs (1974)

The origin of the fantastic Bridge of Sighs can be rather prosaic or poetic, and you can take your pick. The former explanation is that while Trower was writing the music he by chance noticed that a racehorse in a newspaper was called Bridge of Sighs and he thought that would make a great name for his song. The more romantic back-story relates to the
Ponte de Sospiri bridge in Venice, which is where prisoners would allegedly catch sight of a lake and San Giorgio island before heading to jail, and possible death. The music perfectly captures this mournful moment, and in one interview Trower fascinatingly explained its development: "The funny thing about the title song is that I had the opening guitar riff for about six months before I could come up with the turnaround section. I loved that opening lick so much. I was determined to make the second half just as perfect. So I waited and waited... and then it came to me. The band played it for the first time at Winterland in San Francisco and we received something like a 10 minute standing ovation. It obviously had magic."