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Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Bill Bruford's Earthworks Footloose and Fancy Free album cover
4.33 | 26 ratings | 3 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (60:43)
1. Footloose and Fancy Free (9:01)
2. If Summer Had Its Ghosts (8:29)
3. A Part, and Yet Apart (10:26)
4. Triplicity (7:39)
5. Come to Dust (10:53)
6. No Truce with the Furies (6:55)
7. The Wooden Man Sings, and the Stone Woman Dances (7:20)

CD 2 (57:04)
1. Revel Without a Pause (8:42)
2. Never the Same Way Once (10:16)
3. Original Sin (7:49)
4. Cloud Cuckoo Land (8:08)
5. Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing (6:33)
6. The Emperor's New Clothes (7:45)
7. Bridge of Inhibition (7:51)

Total Time 117:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Patrick Clahar / tenor & soprano saxophones
- Steve Hamilton / piano
- Mark Hodgson / bass
- Bill Bruford / drums

Releases information

2CD: Discipline Global Mobile DGM0201

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Footloose and Fancy Free ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Footloose and Fancy Free reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars Including Bill Bruford's acoustic jazz quartet here at Prog Archives is more than just a token courtesy to a drummer whose rimshots have galvanized some of the best Progressive bands of the previous 30 years. Since he first poked his head out from under the Crimson umbrella in the middle 1970s, Bruford has accomplished something few other Prog artists have managed: he actually progressed, right out of the Art Rock ghetto and into that exclusive fraternity of world-class musicians for whom such mundane questions of genre and style no longer apply.

But make no mistake: this isn't Jazz Rock Fusion, or the sort of ersatz jazz pastiche that occasionally pops up in the middle of a 30-minute Flower Kings epic. This is the real thing, presented in its purest and most organic form: live in front of an intimate but enthusiastic audience, and played with enough heart and soul to make a believer out of even the most stubborn headbanger.

It was the live setting, as much as the marquee value of Bruford's sterling reputation, which recommended this two-disc package in the first place. I had lost touch with the drummer's solo career after his first few albums in the late 1970s, but the maturity of the songwriting here should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his background. The music is uniformly warm and sunny, composed and arranged with a confidence matched only by the deceptive ease of each performance.

Listening to the CDs, it's easy to understand how Bruford became frustrated with the cold, metallic precision of the double-trio KING CRIMSON in the 1990s. But you can still hear the echoes of his Prog Rock roots, particularly on the up-tempo jams of "Cloud Cuckoo Land", "The Emperor's New Clothes", and the exhilarating title track opening Disc One (fans of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities will also recognize the song "Original Sin", no less engaging for its lack of electronics in this version).

I won't spoil the newcomer's joy of discovery by cataloguing my list of highlights, which are pretty evenly distributed throughout the two discs and between each of the four players. Bruford remains, as always, a democratic bandleader, but it would be wrong not to at least mention his climactic drum solo in the "Bridge of Inhibition" encore. After the more measured playing in the rest of the set this song tosses and turns like a hyperactive Levantine belly dancer after too much strong Turkish coffee, and Bruford's solo spot, accompanied by a staccato piano and throbbing upright bass, is without exaggeration one of the most exciting two-and-one-half minutes in my entire music collection.

Review by fuxi
5 stars This incredible double live CD is one of the highlights in Bill Bruford's long career.

It mainly consists of pieces from two previous Earthworks CDs (A PART, AND YET APART and THE SOUND OF SURPRISE) but all are given a thorough makeover. The pieces from THE SOUND OF SURPRISE, in particular, take on a new life of their own and sound far more passionate than they ever did in the studio.

You might admire Bruford for his work with Yes and King Crimson, and it's true some of the early highlights of his career can be found on albums such as FRAGILE or THE GREAT DECEIVER (one of the Crimson box sets). But of all the members (or former members) of classic 1970s prog bands, Bruford is, beyond doubt, the one who has, in recent decades, expanded his musical vocabulary most. He has refined his drumming technique, his composing skills and his emotional expressivity to such an extent that, if you like his original style, you really ought to listen to Earthworks as well. I cannot imagine you won't be captivated.

With the Earthworks incarnation represented here, Bruford resolutely went down the jazzy road. I hesitated a little before awarding this album the full five stars. "Masterpiece of progressive music? But it's jazz!" Well, if you look at all the projects by leading prog musicians during the past thirty years, some have strayed, at times, into ambient music (Robert Fripp, for example), traditional singing- songwriting (Peter Gabriel) or pseudo-classical suites (Steve Hackett). Many of those musicians have produced excellent albums in various genres, fully deserving five stars. If thousands of Progarchives readers are able to enjoy such products, some will also appreciate Bill Bruford's evolution. As listeners we ought to have an open mind, and accept Bruford the way he is. And since Bill now plays and composes better than ever, he fully deserves our admiration.

Although Bruford devotes himself to jazz these days, he's still recognisably the same musician as when he set out on his own. The quirky melodies he writes, full of time changes and unusual meters, still bear a close relationship to the stuff you'll hear on FEELS GOOD TO ME (Bill's early 'fusion' masterpiece) and to certain Canterbury Scene albums (e.g. NATIONAL HEALTH).

As far as Earthworks' other members are concerned, few lovers of symphonic prog will have problems with double bass, or with Steve Hamilton's masterly piano. Patrick Clahar may be the greatest problem, since many rock fans simply don't accept the saxophone as main melody instrument in a band. (To make things worse, in some of his solos Clahar 'goes a bit crazy' - something many rock listeners just CAN'T STAND.) Well, to all of you grumblers out there, I'll only say three things. (1) Broaden your mind, dammit! Life is short, and most of the world's great music is NOT produced by rock bands. (2) Just imagine Clahar's bloody sax is a guitar! (3) If all else fails, use your fast- forward button. The customer is king, I guess...

But once again: as long as you're not a "cloth-eared nincompoop" (to quote Mike Oldfield), it's likely you'll appreciate Bill Bruford's unique virtuosity and his amazing inventivity as a composer. This double album was definitely meant to be enjoyed.

Latest members reviews

4 stars WARNING: This is a real JAZZ ALBUM!!! Jazz has many faces, especially in these post-modern times. Some players consider be-bop as the only form of jazz, others do fusions with anything they want. Mr. Bruford and his current band stands somewhere in the middle. Bill was never a be-bop player, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#28158) | Posted by KuDo | Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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