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Bill Bruford - One of a Kind CD (album) cover

ONE OF A KIND

Bill Bruford

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.07 | 216 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
3 stars There's just something different about this album that I can't quite put my finger on. After reading other reviews, I think others have picked up on it too. My opinion is the unique feel to One of a Kind is partly a function of overproduced 80s, and partly a function of the perfectionism of the players. I know this album is listed in the same genre as fusion giants such as Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra, but this is light-years away in sound from their early recordings (except I may hear some Romantic Warrior comparisons). The main reason is that absolutely nothing is out of place on this album--not a note missed, a beat skipped, or an extended note that doesn't have perfect vibrato. You certainly can't say that about early Mahavishnu Orchestra! The result is that One of a Kind has a sanitized feel, which has obviously left some reviewers cold and emotionless.

Of course, even if the overall vibe doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you will enjoy One of a Kind. It really has everything: varied tempos and time signatures, plenty of variety on synths and keys, lots of catchy melodies, and, most importantly, four talented musicians who are on the same page and truly create some killer fusion. After a terrible start (what is that grating, repeated banging noise?), the album gets down to business, and things only get better as the album progresses. My favorite tracks (Five G, Abingdon Chasp, Forever Until Sunday, and the Sahara of Snow) are all on the second side, and packed full of lush synths and oozing Holdsworth guitar.

Rather than focus on the songs, I'll focus on the individual performances (though they really do gel to produce a cohesive sound together). This album motivated me to find some more of Holdsworth's work--he really works the vibrato and eases into notes so seamlessly that his sound is incredibly unique (and enjoyable). Stewart does a great job on keys, striking a nice balance of synths and piano as well as creating some excellent soundscapes (especially on Sahara of Snow). The rhythm section of Bruford and Berlin is so solid that it's very easy to ignore--but when you focus your attention on either, you'll have plenty to keep you interested. I suppose that's the main difference between One of a Kind and the fusion giants: these guys aren't trying to outplay each other, and it's refreshing.

If you like fusion (as I do!), you have to have this album. I will issue a caution: if you are simply looking at this because Bruford is the lead man, you may be disappointed--although his work is certainly solid, it is never at the forefront of the music. However, if you are that big of a Bruford fan, you will also not be surprised at this, because what makes him so talented in my eyes is his ability to always add to the music without ever detracting from what the other players are doing (something that can't be said for the other great drummers: Bonham, Cobham, and Portnoy, to name a few).

Flucktrot | 3/5 |

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