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Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Bill Bruford's Earthworks Random Acts of Happiness album cover
3.67 | 25 ratings | 2 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. My Heart Declares a Holiday (5:27)
2. White Knuckle Wedding (7:44)
3. Turn and Return (2:51)
4. Tramontana (8:05)
5. Bajo del Sol (8:45)
6. Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Part 1) (3:56)
7. Modern Folk (6:27)
8. With Friends Like These (2:53)
9. Speaking with Wooden Tongues (7:54)
10. One of a Kind (Part 1) (2:09)
11. One of a Kind (Part 2) (4:16)

Total Time 60:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Bruford / drums, log drum
- Tim Garland / tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, bass clarinet
- Steve Hamilton / piano
- Mark Hodgson / bass

Releases information

Summerfold Records / Bill Bruford Productions

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BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Random Acts of Happiness ratings distribution

(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Random Acts of Happiness reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The second consecutive live release by Bill Bruford's celebrated quartet is even stronger than "Footloose and Fancy Free", with enough cross-genre appeal to attract even those unrefined Progheads normally lacking the patience for traditional Jazz.

But of course this is hardly traditional Jazz, is it? Bruford may have stepped off the gravy train years ago, but the drummer's impeccable Prog Rock credentials give his new music an energy and drive not often found in even the most rocking of Jazz Rock fusions. The result is a louder and livelier set than on the earlier CD, vividly captured with near documentary you-are-there fidelity.

It helps that the band was playing a larger venue this time out, and to a crowd obviously comfortable with rock 'n' roll protocol (or lack thereof: Jazz audiences don't generally hoot and whistle with such raucous abandon). Their enthusiasm must have been contagious, and the band responds with fiery readings of (mostly) new material, all instrumental of course, and every song highlighting the dazzling virtuoso turns of pianist Steve Hamilton and new horn player Tim Garland.

The latter in particular shines in his melancholy bass clarinet introduction to "Bajo del Sol" (an otherwise energetic jam featuring one of Bruford's patented, rattling rimshot and trap solos, played over a backdrop of syncopated flamenco handclaps), and in the climactic "Speaking With Wooden Tongues", where he's either using some sort of note splitter or playing two saxophones simultaneously.

And then there's Bruford himself, a musician who knows more ways to dissect and reassemble a rhythm than any mere drummer I've ever heard. If you only know him through the music of KING CRIMSON or YES, and haven't yet acquired a taste for his recent, more orthodox Jazz recordings, this might be an ideal introduction to his post- Prog career: it's the work of an artist always looking forward, and at the same time returning to his Fusion roots, circa 1977. The two-part title track of his debut solo album "Feels Good To Me" even provides the suitably upbeat encore here.

Review by fuxi
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.

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