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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Stamping Ground - Live CD (album) cover

STAMPING GROUND - LIVE

Bill Bruford's Earthworks

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.77 | 17 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This generous live album will show you how good the first incarnation of Earthworks really was. Bill Bruford himself uses electronic drums sensitively (i.e. not too often); most of the first Earthworks' best compositions are included; and since this is a live recording, the music sounds more spontaneous and less clinical than on the studio albums. In fact, some of the music is so beautiful I almost got tears in my eyes... 'It needn't end in tears', you see, is a delightfully bluesy, sax-led ballad; and on 'Pilgrim's Way' Iain Ballamy plays some lovely soprano sax (shades of Wayne Shorter) on top of a subtle 'chordal drums' pattern. 'Up North' is one of my favourite Earthworks pieces: a highly catchy melody, for which Ballamy and Django Bates pair up on sax and euphonium. (The same pairing can be heard on the deeply moving 'Candles Still Flicker in Romania's Dark', which reminds me of those vocal duets in Mozart's REQUIEM and in certain baroque cantatas.)

Even if you're not too interested in Earthworks as a band, STAMPING GROUND is still worth, buying because Django Bates is undoubtedly the most gifted keyboard soloist Bill Bruford ever worked with. (With the possible exception of Rick Wakeman - but even then I have my doubts.) Oh, I know, I dearly love Dave Stewart, whose keyboard arrangements on Bill's FEELS GOOD TO ME and ONE OF A KIND are lovely; but as a soloist (particularly on piano) the unpredictable Bates is quirkier and more exciting. (Subsequent Earthworks keyboardists have all been NICE, but none were as idiosyncratic as Bates.)

A warning: 'Nerve', the opening track, may sounds a little mechanical and relentless; don't let that put you off from the rest of the album, which is much more approachable. A tip: most of the tracks featured here are also available (in different performances) on one of those splendid Earthworks DVDs which appeared in 2007.

fuxi | 4/5 |

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