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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Random Acts of Happiness CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 20 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Tim Garland is a far more subtle and varied sax player than Patrick Clahar, who was with Earthworks from 1999 until 2002. Garland also employs a wider range of colours than his predecessor, using both tenor and soprano saxes, bass clarinet and even flute. Moreover, he is known as a highly original and adventurous composer. For all these reasons, I had high hopes when RANDOM ACTS OF HAPPINESS was released (the remaining members of Bruford's band had stayed I place) - but to my disappointment all my hopes were disappointed.

If you like Bruford's way of drumming (and, perhaps, his early solo albums) but have never listened to Earthworks, RANDOM ACTS might actually be an excellent introduction to this band, since it is joyful and fiesta-like; it even includes performances of Bruford 'oldies' such as 'Seems Like a Lifetime Ago' (without vocals, this time) and 'One of a Kind'.

My main gripe with this album is that none of the NEW compositions seem to cut any wood. Their melodies are undistinguished, and Garland's solos (for all his pedigree) never catch fire. Steve Hamilton's piano is lovely as always, but his style hasn't developed (it doesn't surprise me that he was to leave Earthworks after the recording of this album), and Bill is his trusty old self, but even he doesn't do anything you've never heard before. Only towards the end of the album, on 'Speaking with Wooden Tongues' (where Garland's soprano sax has a delightful northern African flavour) I got carried away by the music - and that was a little late.

Of all 1970s prog musicians I can think of, Bill Bruford has had the solo career I admire and respect the most. To my regret, RANDOM ACTS was the first BB album that ever disappointed me. If you want to hear Earthworks at their best, go for the double live FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE: one of the most exciting projects Bill has ever been involved with.

fuxi | 3/5 |


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