Some say happiness is good health and a bad memory, others sorting the want from the need. It was with the latter in mind, that I viewed with disdain the latest ad for the fiftieth anniversary edition of Robin Trower’s ‘Bridge Of Sighs’, I don’t need it, I have my original 1974 vinyl copy, but it nagged at me, niggled under my skin, itched and irritated and the internal arguments began, a conversation between an angel and a devil grew in my ears, the angel on my right shoulder, the devil on my left. 

Like Gollum I began to mutter to myself, as I ambled through life’s mundanities, washing the pots, washing the car, cutting the grass, like Gollum though, I knew the eventual outcome, I had to have the precious.  However, history looms large here, I had better explain my actions. Fifty years ago, as a callow seventeen-year-old, I worked behind a bar to earn extra income, an apprentice first year wage was meagre at best and needed propping up. 

It was behind that bar that fate took hold and showed its hand. A young barmaid, my age, my height and quite lovely, offered to loan me her latest vinyl acquisition. Now, you would think I would be pleased, flattered, and in a way, I was, but what if I didn’t like it, what if it was the worst thing ever pressed, what if this was nineteen fifty’s country with a little sprinkling of brass for good measure, or a K-Tel sing along a max, how would I tell her I hated it? 

Well, I need not have worried, this was a revelation. The needle touched the vinyl, and soaring guitar matched seamlessly with a drum and bass combo to die for. Then, as if that was insufficient, James Dewar’s gorgeous tenor vocals washed over me in great waves of audio chocolate joy, and sent me reeling. I was relieved, I could give honest feedback to my lady friend, and I was overjoyed I had been introduced to nothing short of a musical and emotional sensation. 

From there my romance with Robin blossomed, I hunted down vinyl rarities, scoured the music press for the latest Trower news, and spread the gospel to anyone that would listen – and some that would not, all this resulting in visits to numerous live shows and a considerable Trower collection. 

Of course, in 1974 the internet of things just wasn’t a thing at all, phones were restricted to windowsills and call boxes, TV consisted of three channels and the ‘Sounds’ and ‘Melody Maker’ music newspapers were the industries only way of getting through to a youth ravenous for more. 

If you missed the old grey whistle test, you wept all week. 

‘Bridge Of Sighs’ loomed large in my life then, in a way only fellow music lovers can understand, certain albums leave a scar, revive memories and transport us right back to a carefree time of seemingly longer summers, beautiful friendships and more, much more. Now fifty years on, of course, I lost the battle, the devil to my left won out, I bought the fiftieth anniversary edition, my precious, and boy am I pleased I did. 

It came to me in cd format, I love vinyl, but I wanted this for the car too, the music is packaged in four discs held in a wallet the shape and size of a ladybird book, remember those? This package was a little thicker though, to house copious sleeve notes and a total of four discs. The original artwork remains, Paul Olson’s Mobius still fascinates, the Aramaic style print quite timeless yet evocative, the colours, a form of old English white and sage, just the same as the original. 

So, the packaging is good, what about the really important bit, the music? 

To my ears the music is just as bright and fresh as it ever was, remixed maybe, but rehashed no. Nothing added, nothing taken away, it still touches the emotions, still brings out the air guitarist in me and sweeps me up in its arms, singing smiling dancing, by the final track, I’m hurled out the other side of a brilliant white hole, intact, but somehow refreshed and resurrected. 

Too bold a statement? Too much hyperbole? No, No and thrice no. If you ain’t sat with your best cans on and listened to this album, you will die a poorer person for it. Disc one is as the album was, Discs two and three are a mix of live shows and rare out-takes, entertaining, well mixed and musically entrancing, sadly, disc four on blue ray audio with hints of Dolby Atmos lay lonely in the sleeve, I have no way of playing such technical exotica, but I had in the words of Baldrick, a cunning plan. 

I have used Richer Sounds for numerous and various bits of audio equipment over the years, perhaps they may help? With that foremost in my mind I visited their Middlesbrough store with discs firmly clutched in my sweaty palm. Would they let me hear just how good, or bad, this blue ray Atmos thingy is on their very expensive demo gear? You betcha. Stuart, sales honcho extraordinaire, was more than obliging. He plonked me in a comfy seat in a back room, already set up with screen, speakers on the floor and in the roof, all linked to a Blu-Ray player, stuffing two remotes in my paws with instructions on what to do.

Closing the door behind him, he attended to other customers while I revelled. The screen was a moving picture of the aforementioned Mobius, slightly mesmerising at first, but that’s all, no video. The music with Dolby Atmos was excellent, starting again with the original album and then live tracks and interviews Stateside.  The ballads, ‘In This Place’ and About To Begin’ came out best in this format, the split speakers providing guitar in all directions spreading Reg Isodore’s drums around the room, hunted down by James Dewar’s bass and voice relentlessly. 

All in all, it was a fresh experience for someone who has listened to this album on many, many occasions. A big shout out then, to Richer sounds, and to Stuart in particular. My only complaint is the devil, and the Angel are once more doing battle, over the purchase of fresh speakers and a Blu-ray player. Is there no peace? 

However, regarding the music, reading my views may or may not make you want to at least give the album a listen, but when I tell you Robert Fripp, Bryan Ferry and Steve Lukather are just a few big-name fans, that Jack Bruce played with him on more than one album, there is clearly something there that stirs the musical soul. 

What of the beautiful barmaid? As I recall she opted for University and I had an apprenticeship to serve. I owe her so much, with that simple kind gesture she chipped a sharp edge from my soul and made me a better man, no, really, no kidding. I wonder where she is now.