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Bill Bruford - Feels Good to Me CD (album) cover

FEELS GOOD TO ME

Bill Bruford

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.92 | 136 ratings

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Isa
Prog Reviewer
3 stars |C+| Feels pretty good to me too, Mr. Bruford.

What can be found in his debut is a pretty experimental take on the late 70s fusion style (hard rock guitar, heavy use of keyboard technology that would typify the 80s sound, and what sounds like a lot of Return to Forever influence). This album is by no means a landmark or essential, but is very interesting in its (for the time) pretty cutting edge qualities and sounds, and for the creativity Bruford had in the layering of parts.

Back to the Beginning starts off the album with a soft mock-clarinet keyboard solo, then becomes heavy and features a female vocal jazz vocalist singing quite chromatic melody (!?). She's pretty good, but can be a bit pitchy at times, typical for jazz vocalists really. This is layered with hard rock guitar and rhythmic fusiony keyboard sounds. Quite an interesting piece.

Beezlebub is your typically fun late seventies jazz-fusion fast-jam, sounding a lot like Return to Forever and Santana, especially with the organ and style of the guitar soloist. Bill Bruford has really fast and clean work with the cymbals, which reoccurs throughout the album... I wouldn't be surprised with Neal Peart's work in La Villa Strangiato was influenced in part by this album (Rush was in fact very in tune with Bill Bruford's solo work in the late seventies, no doubt including his debut). Some pretty fun, albeit jagged noodling on instruments... a bit "noodly" and non-expressive for my taste. Fun though.

Seems Like a Lifetime sounds a lot like a late sixties jazz ballad made with late seventies jazz fusion. Very nice, nothing more romantic than a jazz ballad. This romantic mood is instantly shifted in the song's Part 2 into heavy guitar kind of latin-jazz fusion, kind of pulling the rug out from under the listener, really cool. Very prog-rock sounding time-signature changes, heavy guitar riffing, with brass horn settings adding to the "umph" of the song, sort of like Chicago. The track gradually shifts into very cerebral fusiony use of bells, keyboard pads and moves into some very self-indulgent (in a good way) fusion jamming. Reminds me a lot of Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy... I think that album probably had much influence on his work here.

Sample and Hold is yet another creative heavy-guitar fusion piece. Really great and creative, a lot of variation in the way the instruments are layered. All of the instruments are used to their full potential. Later in the track it gets quite far into the land of "noodling and self- indulgent playing," too far for my tastes, especially when the fury of notes in the bass and guitar come in.

Feels Good to Me really caught me off-guard: I swear it sounds just like a 90s video game song from Sonic the Hedgehog, though with less repetition obviously. I really wouldn't be surprised if this influenced the video game composers later on, it's seriously that similar in sound. I love the honky-tonk chorused piano section with the fiery guitar solo!

Either End of August is a nice track, good moving bass lines and trumpet solo... the general composition seems a little lack-luster and half-hearted though, even with the nice 5/8 and 6/8 time signature alterations. Man I love that guitar-trumpet unison line though, those timbres are so beautiful together. This track has a really good build.

If You Can't Stand the Heat... is pretty much returns the album to your typical seventies overly-self-indulgent-noodling-around-on-you-instrument-for-fun track, which is fun at first and quickly gives me turgid and pretentious vibe, though it's nice to hear a good solo on bells for once in a rock song.

And then there's the opposite: the lush and expressive Springtime in Siberia, as beautiful as any jazz ballad out there, such a warm and inviting trumpet solo, such beautiful work on the piano. I love this piece. It isn't prog rock, but it's worth buying this album if only for this piece. I wonder if it's a reiteration of a previously made jazz ballad... its nice regardless.

The album gradually transitions to a pretty deep and cerebral keyboard and bells, the beginning of the final track Adios A La Pasada. This section moves into a really fun and great Return to Forever sounding section, with some interludes of dialogue about "forgiving yourself" by our breathy but nice female jazz vocalist, who comes in again for the finale of the album, with a great melodic guitar solo.

In general I really like this album, as I like a lot of late-seventies prog (particularly fusion styled work), though there are too often long-winded jam sections of turgid and technical soloing, and even a lot of the good tracks are pretty jagged in their organization. Overall I like what I hear, but the work has too little cohesiveness for me to consider it a major work of art. Worth buying though; bravo to a pleasant debut, Mr. Bruford.

Isa | 3/5 |

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