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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - All Heaven Broke Loose CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I love Bill Bruford. He is the most singularly gifted drummer I know and he has created or helped create some of the finest prog and fusion the World has ever heard. Sadly for me, his Earthworks project was disappointing. Perhaps I was expecting BLUE or the Bruford band circa 1978 but I should know better than to think this artist would stand still-- a true progressive. 'All Heaven Broke Loose' is a slight departure for him; not prog, fusion or trad. jazz, a somewhat queasy session that blends contemporary jazz stylings, electro-rock and a touch of pop. This marriage doesn't quite work, however, infrequently demonstrating that blend with success and leaving us with only a few interesting cuts. Ah well, maybe next time. Still love 'ya, Bill.
Report this review (#93811)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Although the first version of Earthworks (with Django Bates and Iain Ballamy) never reached the stellar heights of later incarnations, they recorded a number of CDs that are consistently interesting, often moving and sometimes great fun. ALL HEAVEN BROKE LOOSE (their third and final studio album) is an excellent example.

If you are one of those prog lovers who hate the very smell of jazz or cannot abide improvised sax solos, stay away! But if you're a more open-minded listener, with a true interest in the development of Bruford's career, this album is essential listening.

On ALL HEAVEN BROKE LOOSE Bill plays a mixture of electronic and acoustic drums. I am not too crazy about his electronic drumming (with which he ripped to shreds, for example, 'Close to the Edge' on the AWBH live album, but here he fortunately keeps it under control. Several tunes open with Bill providing a gentle keyboard-like melody on chordal drums. He is then joined by Ballamy's sax and by Bates' sonorous peck horn (an instrument I'd never heard of, but it produces a very warm and intimate sound). Some of the tunes sound deeply melancholic (e.g. 'Candles still flicker...' and the opening of 'All heaven...'), which makes you think: why isn't there any OTHER post-1980 solo album by (former) members of Yes on which you will hear your heroes play such endearing, intimate melodies, in true collaboration with fellow musicians? (No ego-tripping!)

But even the sadder tunes invariably pick up speed, joyous improvisations take over, and Bill soon switches to acoustic drums. As usual, whatever he does sounds fascinating.

Some special features: 'Forget-me-not' has some slow, wonderfully poetic sax in the style of Wayne Shorter; on 'Pigalle' you can hear fake accordeon music provided by Django Bates on keyboard; and 'Nerve' contains funky drumming reminiscent of 'Sample and Hold' (on FEELS GOOD TO ME), as well as some playful 'keyboard abuse' which strongly reminds me of Dave Stewart.

The only problem with this album is that the general mood is somewhat subdued, so I keep wavering between three and four stars. Most casual prog listeners will probably call it 'good, but not essential'. But it's a must for Bruford fans.

Report this review (#93858)
Posted Monday, October 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars If you purchase an Eartworks CD expecting to hear hard fusion, the way Bruford played in his earlier band, "Bruford" you are in for a big disappointment. If you kept up with Mr. Bruford's career, and new that he was interested in playing a more straight ahead style of jazz, you will be delighted.

That is not to say that there aren't moments here to please a prog fan. The songs "Pigalle" has a very intriguing bit of play in it's time signatures, seeming to constantly vary where the one beat is, with Brufoed himseld setting the tone with his complex tonal drum synth pads. And "Nerve", with it's syncopation, is reminiscent to me of the jazzier works of Soft Machine.

The remainder of the album is filled with very nicely played bebop, with some electric passages mixed in. Not a bad album, but by no means essential.

Report this review (#217416)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink

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