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Chris 'The Grouts' Michie

Bridge of Sighs sessions


BtP e-talked to Chris Michie, Technical Editor of Mix magazine, about all things Procol, and this included some interesting Trower insights too.


I tape-opíed on Trower's the Bridge of Sighs sessions, but they were not especially enjoyable. I had liked Robinís first album and was looking forward to working with Geoff Emerick for the first time, but the sessions turned out to be not particularly memorable. I joined the band to add handclaps to Too Rolling Stoned and manipulated the varispeed device that created the underwater bells effect for the title track, but otherwise was not much involved with the band, Matthew Fisher, or Geoff Emerick.

The most interesting thing about the recording was that the band set up at the far end of AIRís Studio One as if on stage, with Robin and the bassist either side of the drummer, who was on a riser. They played at close to concert volumes, and Emerick used both close and distant mics on Robinís guitar. Most of the tracks were recorded in complete takes Ė I donít think Emerick was quite as ready as Chris Thomas and John Punter had been to edit together different bits to make up composite performances.

As the era of "hard rock" recording got going, it became fashionable for bands to work with younger engineers who, one might assume, were more in touch with the "modern" sound. Olympic, Morgan, Trident and Island studios seemed to attract the cream of the new rock aristocracy and Trident engineers Roy Baker, Ken Scott and Robin Cable seemed to be the first-call names for any hot new project. In that atmosphere, it seemed surprising that Robin Trower should choose to record with Geoff Emerick, forever associated with the now-defunct Beatles. But Geoffís unaffected, rigorously clean style of recording actually enhanced the material and I think that Bridge of Sighs stands up today as a very, very good sounding record. Similarly, though Bill Price was never considered a "radical" engineer in terms of his sound, it was he that recorded most of the Sex Pistolsí records, and had no small part in the recording success of The Pretenders and The Clash.

IMHO.


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