The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)*
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- One of the best copies of Trower's amazingly well recorded Psych masterpiece to ever hit the site, with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first - remarkably quiet vinyl too
- This glorious early UK pressing is huge, rich and powerful, with guitar solos that soar like few others you've heard
- If you want to make your speakers disappear, this is the album that can do it
- Brilliant engineering by Geoff Emerick at George Martin's AIR studios - maybe the best sounding album Emerick ever worked (and he won a Grammy for Abbey Road!)
- It's shocking to contemplate the idea that he became an even better recording engineer in the '70s
- Top 100 and 4 1/2 stars on AMG: "...his most stunning, representative, and consistent collection of tunes. Bridge of Sighs holds up to repeated listenings as a timeless work, as well as the crown jewel in Trower's extensive catalog."
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*NOTE: Track 1 on side 1, "Day of the Eagle," plays even quieter than the overall grade, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus.
We'd been wandering around in the dark for more than a decade with Bridge of Sighs -- that is, until about 2015 when we finally stumbled upon a certain UK Chrysalis pressing in audiophile playing condition.
Now we know just how good this album can sound. How good? Astonishingly good. The three-dimensional space is positively breathtaking on the best UK copies.
There is a substantial amount of Tubey Magic and liquidity on the tape, recalling the kind of hi-rez vintage analog sound that makes the luminous A Space in Time (1971) such a mind-expanding experience. Both albums have the kind of High Production Value sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. You can find many of our favorites in our Rock and Pop Top 100, and if we can find more of this title, it will surely be on the list as well.
What The Best Sides Of Bridge of Sighs Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1974
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
No domestic pressing could touch our better British imports we're sorry to say, and we're sorry to say it because finding the right Brit copies in good condition is going to be a very expensive proposition going forward. We expect we shall be paying much too much to get a fairly high percentage of noisy, heavily played, old beat up records shipped to us. Unfortunately, there is simply no other way to do it. We Americans put up with dubby domestic pressings for decades because we had no idea how good the album could sound and no equipment capable of showing us. That's all changed now.
Fortunately for our Rock Guitar loving customers, when the sound and the music are good, all the effort and expense are more than worth it.
What We're Listening For On Bridge of Sighs
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Geoff Emerick in this case -- would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read "BIG and BOLD" -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They're not brighter, they're not more aggressive, they're not hyped-up in any way, they're just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn't, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British original copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of original British pressings of Classic Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it's an entirely different -- and dare I say unforgettable -- listening experience.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
A Must Own Rock Record
We consider this album a Masterpiece. It's a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- Day of the Eagle
- Bridge of Sighs
- In This Place
- The Fool and Me
- Too Rolling Stoned
- About to Begin
- Lady Love
- Little Bit of Sympathy
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Guitarist Robin Trower's watershed sophomore solo disc remains his most stunning, representative, and consistent collection of tunes. Mixing obvious Hendrix influences with blues and psychedelia, then adding the immensely soulful vocals of James Dewar, Trower pushed the often limited boundaries of the power trio concept into refreshing new waters...
One of the few Robin Trower albums without a weak cut, Bridge of Sighs holds up to repeated listenings as a timeless work, as well as the crown jewel in Trower's extensive yet inconsistent catalog.