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JACK BRUCE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Jack Bruce biography
JOHN JACK BRUCE inevitably heads up many a Rebus* list of famous Scottish rock musicians. Whilst best known for Cream in the late 60's and continuing to play and record music with a distinct blue-rock, JACK BRUCE has ranged extensively into other areas where his fusion of rock, blues, jazz, world musics has resulted in various new forms of rock music that are avant garde, unique, challenging and most certainly progressive. He is very well known as a composer, bassist and powerful (operatic-like) vocalist as well as a harmonica player, pianist and celloist. He has been hailed as one of the greatest and most skilled electric bassists of all time, his improvisational skill and his individual approach to composition and performance affected both rock and jazz musics. Picking up the bass guitar only a few years after it was commercially available in the UK, with probably only Jet Harris as a predecessor, his pioneering, full-tone playing introduced a sophisticated and innovative approach to the way the instrument is used and influenced the playing of numerous bassists, including Jack Casady, Andy Fraser, Mark King, Sting, Geddy Lee, Jeff Berlin and indeed Jaco Pastorius.

(*Fictional, Edinburgh-based, rock-fan detective created by author Ian Rankin).

JACK BRUCE was born on May 14, 1943 in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Continual upheaval of home-life meant his education was spread over 14 different schools during his childhood. JACK BRUCE took up the jazz double bass in his teens, winning a scholarship to study cello and composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. To support his studies BRUCE played in local dance bands to the eventual disapproval of the RSAMD: hence an ultimatum either stop or leave college: JACK BRUCE terminated his academic studies and headed south.

According to the 2005 documentary 'Jazz Britannia' (BBC 4), jazz rock developed in the UK in the early 60's because young musicians were often being banned from playing a jazz club's acoustic instruments and so being forced to bring their own portable gear - sooner or later electric instruments were to be the main tools of their trade. This was the environment JACK BRUCE found himself in London. In 1962, playing double bass he became a member of the jazz-blues outfit, the legendary Blues Incorporated, led by Cyril Davis and Alexis Korner. The Blues Incorporated also included saxophonist-turned-organist Graham Bond, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smi...
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Silver RailsSilver Rails
Esoteric 2014
Audio CD$9.95
$7.89 (used)
Songs for a TailorSongs for a Tailor
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 2003
Audio CD$5.42
$4.44 (used)
I've Always Wanted to Do ThisI've Always Wanted to Do This
Import
Esoteric 2008
Audio CD$13.99
$10.45 (used)
The Jack Bruce Collector's EditionThe Jack Bruce Collector's Edition
Times Square Records 2005
Audio CD$5.66
$4.98 (used)
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6h 51m
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JACK BRUCE shows & tickets


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JACK BRUCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JACK BRUCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.53 | 25 ratings
Songs for a Tailor
1969
2.84 | 18 ratings
Things We Like
1970
3.52 | 18 ratings
Harmony Row
1971
3.10 | 10 ratings
Out Of The Storm
1974
3.08 | 5 ratings
How's Tricks
1976
2.05 | 2 ratings
I've Always Wanted to Do This
1980
2.50 | 2 ratings
Automatic
1983
3.23 | 7 ratings
A Question Of Time
1989
3.14 | 10 ratings
Somethin Els
1993
4.50 | 2 ratings
Monkjack
1995
3.74 | 8 ratings
Shadows in the Air
2001
3.75 | 4 ratings
Jet Set Jewel
2003
4.04 | 8 ratings
More Jack Than God
2003
3.67 | 9 ratings
Seven Moons ( with Robin Trower)
2008
3.82 | 11 ratings
Silver Rails
2014

JACK BRUCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 4 ratings
Live '75
1975
3.96 | 5 ratings
Cities Of The Heart
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
BBC Live in Concert
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test
1998
4.00 | 1 ratings
Concert Classics Volume 9
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
HR Big Band Featuring Jack Bruce
2007
4.00 | 4 ratings
Spirit. Live at BBC 1971-1978
2008
5.00 | 1 ratings
Seven Moons Live (with Robin Trower)
2009

JACK BRUCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

JACK BRUCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Jack Bruce
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
Willpower
1989
2.00 | 1 ratings
No Stopping Anytime (with Robin Trower)
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Jack Bruce Collector's Edition
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sitting On Top of the World
1997
4.00 | 1 ratings
Doing This . . . On Ice!
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
Rope Ladder to the Moon
2003
5.00 | 3 ratings
Can You Follow?
2008

JACK BRUCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JACK BRUCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live '75 by BRUCE, JACK album cover Live, 1975
3.98 | 4 ratings

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Live '75
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars This fascinating 1975 concert was discovered quite by accident whilst Polydor was going through its archives preparing for reissues of Jack Bruce's solo catalog. Although the recording had its share of rough spots, it was salvageable (though there's still some noticeable distortion in the louder parts), and in 2009 was released as a two disc set. It's a testament to the kind of respect Jack Bruce had in the musical community that his "backing band" contains not one but two people who I consider superstars in their own right: Mick Taylor, former Bluesbreaker guitarist and fresh from a stint with a little band called The Rolling Stones, and Carla Bley, author and mastermind behind one of the most incredible albums I've ever heard ("Escalator Over the Hill", 1971, see my review on ProgArchives). And this respect is deserved: in addition to being arguably the primary creative force behind the frighteningly star-studded cast of Cream in the late 60s, and guesting on several prominent jazz/rock efforts by other artists (including Bley's above), he had delivered a number of solo albums that contain some of the most creative and lasting music of its era. Its lack of commercial success could only have been due to its thrillingly eclectic nature, employing the kind of stylistic combinations that would surely make a radio programmer scratch his head in confusion. Whereas Eric Clapton simplified his approach and found success, Jack Bruce went more complex and remained a cult figure.

This live album is the only full concert recording in existence of this band, and that alone makes it worthy for release; luckily, it is also a creditable, solid performance of Jack Bruce the Solo Artist circa '75, with four great-to-amazing solo albums already under his belt. This band lineup plays the material with a jazzy twist, with a much looser beat than was found on the studio albums; I admit this took some getting used to. Jack himself often sings around the melodies as opposed to simply singing them, almost scat singing at times, which I found very frustrating at first, as I dearly love the vocal melodies as originally written. But this performance clearly isn't meant to be a direct reading of the "hits", and once I realized that I was able to swing along with their freewheeling spirit.

On to the songs: "Can You Follow?" begins the show, a short, solo piano/vocal piece that also opened his "Harmony Row" album. The band then slowly revs up the multi-faceted (a word that could describe almost every song here, truth be told) jazz rocker "Morning Story". Carla Bley shines on organ here. Jack sings the lyrics in an almost haphazard order, mixing lines from one verse with lines from other verses as if he's forgotten the whole song. He did that on "Can You Follow" too. A little unnerving, but if you're not a Jack Bruce fanatic like me you probably won't even notice. Next are two tracks from his then-current album "Out of the Storm": the straightforward blues rocker "Keep it Down", one of the few songs in the set that has anything to do with the blues; and the complex "Pieces of Mind". All these songs so far suffer a little from those unexpected setbacks and tentativeness a band often encounters on stage -- taking a while for the band to get comfortable in its surroundings and really hit its stride. By this time, I was thinking this might turn out to be merely a so-so show; thankfully, the band starts to hit its stride after this rocky start.

Pianist Ronnie Leahy begins a long, beautiful solo piano improvisation, floating easily into "Tickets to Waterfalls", its playful cha-cha rhythm a natural head space for this loose combo. The band stretches the outro into a band improvisation, before Leahy and Bley finish with a variation on the opening piano figure of "Weird of Hermiston", leading neatly into that piece, which leads to further improvisation, finally ending the medley with "Post War", one of the strangest songs in Jack's repertoire, and no less strange in this band's reading. In fact, the rhythm section seems to find a unique groove in this song's psychotic ska (apologies to Jack for this heavy-handed description) approach. The first CD ends with a surprise -- a cover of jazz/fusion legend Tony Williams' "Spirit" - and ironically enough, this sole "jazz" piece rocks twice as hard as anything else in the show! The whole band really seems to kick into a new gear here.

Disc Two begins with the jazzy ballad "One", and it's nice to hear Jack stick closer to the vocal melody a bit more than he'd done so far. The band, still sounding confident, play loosely but assuredly. Things start to rock again with "You Burned the Tables on Me", one of Jack's louder, more aggressive solo numbers, but with rolling, funky rhythms rather than stomping rock rhythms. The band makes the most of its "rolling" nature, and stretches the instrumental parts out for several minutes apiece. I chuckled a bit when I realized that some of these bits reminded me of listening to moe. (an eclectic "jam band" that started in the 90s). The set climaxes with the greatly elongated "Smiles and Grins", as complex and strange a song as Jack has ever written. As this epic piece (elongated to 23 minutes here) unfolds, I realized the band had finally arrived at that coveted space in a live performance when the music seems to play itself. After the bridge, Bruce goes into a quiet but intricate bass solo that held me transfixed for several minutes. Instinctually, the band slowly comes back to join him - first Bley (on Mellotron! did I mention she plays a lot of Mellotron on this? It's great!), then the rest of the band as it fires up the song's 7/8 groove and kicks back into the song. For the song's extended coda, Mick Taylor, who had been mostly quiet for the entire show so far, finally spreads his wings and plays a beautiful, delicate guitar solo that was totally worth the wait. The song comes to a gentle rest at the end, and several reverent seconds pass before the crowd applauds appreciatively, and the band leaves the stage.

As an encore, the band plays the crowd pleaser "Sunshine of Your Love", easily the most famous song Bruce ever had a hand in. The band has fun with it, sticking mostly to the script but adding their own flavor here and there. In the instrumental outro, Bley comes in out of nowhere with the most comical synthesizer solo since "Lucky Man", and it kicks butt as you might imagine.

If you love Jack Bruce's solo material from the late 60s and early 70s, there's no reason why you shouldn't grab this. It's an imperfect document, but of a very special moment in time, a moment you won't hear elsewhere. For more casual fans of this kind of thing, tread carefully - it's not the All-Star-Blow-Session you might expect, it's a mostly laid back, loose and mildly jammy (vocally and insturmentally) set of readings of extremely eclectic jazzy pop songs.

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 Out Of The Storm by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.10 | 10 ratings

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Out Of The Storm
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars After the demise of the second incarnation of Mountain (West, Bruce & Laing) and also billed as Cream 3, JB came back shortly to his solo career but this time he worked with his friends from the extensive touring of WB&L across the USA. Though he'd also signed an album with John Surman and Jon Hiseman, the previous year; this time there is very little jazz in Out Of The Storm, because the people he plays with are definitely of the rock crowds: indeed drummer Keltner and Gordon were typical session men, while Steve Hunter (from Alice Cooper's band) on guitar handles the six strings. Don't get me wrong, this is still a typical JB album (but it's not particularly a good one), where he sings, plays bass and keyboards and there is some kind of continuity with his previous Harmony Row (though the song lengths almost doubled on average), but don't look too much for WB&L and Cream - though it's evident there is the JB links. The lyrics are again from Pete Brown, except for one track coming from Jack's wife.

Opening surprisingly of the near-falsetto Bruce voice over a harmonium in Pieces Of Mind, the usual JB solo sonics return, with a generally "too-busy" bass line. The slow following Golden Days feature some female vocals to enhance Bruce's ambitious project, but the whole thing sounds forced to me. Bruce goes one further with the next Running Through Our Hands song, and he clearly overstretches himself, despite an interesting starting idea and lyrics from his wife. The A-side unravels uneventfully with the album-shortest Keep On Wondering, which has indeed got us so (wondering) but we've got an "iffy" harmonica break in the middle.

The Cream-esque Keep It Down gives you a breath of fresh air with some good Hunter guitars. The would-be title track returns to the weirdness of the A-side, while the longer One is one of better songs, but the album-wide competition is relatively weak. The album closes with its main highlight album-lengthiest Timeslip (an obvious call to his Cream days), but it's clearly the manic mainly instrumental second half that drives it home, especially that Hunter delivers a killer guitar solo? too bad it ends in a fade-out, though.

It's a little sad that the person I consider mainly responsible for 50% of Cream's greatness was never able to confirm this out of the trio's gatefold, and that the more he tried (too hard, IMHO), the sadder it got? But then again, the same observation applies for both Ginger and Eric as well. Despite some valiant tries during the 70's (including a collab with Ex-Procol Harum man Robin Trower), it seems that Jack was more a man of the 60's, rather than the following decades.

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 Harmony Row by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.52 | 18 ratings

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Harmony Row
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Third album from JB, but this time, he drops the Colosseum connection to snatch some Nucleus (Ian Carr's band) members, just at the time where the band's original line-up was imploding. To say the least, despite both having played on JB's Tailor album, John Marshall and Chris Spedding are relatively odd choices, given the album's shorter song format. I've always failed to see the link of the album's relatively positive title and its dreary artwork, and to be honest, the album's all-too-wordy nature (it seems that Pete Brown was never this loquacious) always discouraged me of investigating further. As usual, JB sings, plays keys and bass.

A few songs have a hard time hiding their inspiration (or is it that they inspired someone else's?) and sometimes, JB evens sounds a tad Cat Stevens-ish in Folk Song; while some songwriting is definitely kistchy and disputable: Royal Wood and the closing almost-stinky Spanish-crooner Consul At Sunset. And it's in the simpler more RnR songs that JB's often-too busy bass playing is mostly evident, as Letter Of Thanks proves. Among the album's highlights is the impressive and adventurous Morning Story, and while the vocals of Smiles And Grins might just be a little rough/harsh, the playing is brilliant.

Harmony Row has always been an album I've felt uncomfortable with, partly because it isn't all that accessible, too much all over the map, and even noisy in parts. To be honest, if it wasn't for the album's two longer songs, I'd give it a much smaller rating.

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 Things We Like by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.84 | 18 ratings

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Things We Like
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars Under that typical jazzy album title, you'll the ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce's second solo album. If you think that JB and jazz don't really mix, you're in a for a bit of a surprise, as Jack first came to prominence with Graham Bond's ORGANization, and JB and GB (Ginger) used to joke the Cream was a jazz band, and that they never told Clapton so. More than the Cream connection, here, we're getting the Colosseum (Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman replaced JB and GB in Bond's band) and we're heavily in a standard jazz affair ? which might be very strange, since JB was also involved with McL in Tony Williams' Lifetime, which was much more "fusiony". Actually, TWL was recorded prior to JB's first official solo album, but the present is indeed his first try (recorded in Aug 68)? but only found release almost two years afterwards.

So, the quartet's line-up might have hinted you as an all-star JR/F group, but we're quite distant from that realm. Six of the seven tracks are Bruce composition (he plays only stand-up bass on TWL), and the lone medley Sam Enchanted Dick (sic?) is more or less in the same sonic template of the rest of the album. Indeed, we're dealing with a fairly competent late-50's or early-60's boppy jazz that will raise your eyebrows, mostly because that's about the last thing you'd expect from these dudes. Were they out to prove something to the old-guard of jazzers? Maybe so, but personally, I find that, outside McL and to a lesser extent DHS, this is the kind of stuff that lacks a certain credibility from the "rock-related" crowds. Don't expect much of McL's fiery guitar histrionics (he does get the odd spot here and there, but nothing of the sort of Devotion or Mahavishnu), because he's relatively low-key. DHS' gets more sunshine, but it's clearly JB's show ? and to that same extent, drummer Hiseman gets to pull his wild cards out on the table. You'll find the odd inspiration in JB's jazz writing. The more modern-sounding track of the album? HCKHH Blues, without a doubt.

So, if not familiar with TWL, I'd strongly suggest that you lend an earshot (not even very attentive) before investing in the album, because the line-up (written out on the front cover) can (and will) induce into error. Is it a good standard jazz album?? Maybe so, but given the déjà-entendu sonics (save McL's electric interventions), it certainly sounds like a waste of talent at the time? I'd have loved to hear these guys let it all hang out in the wild JF/F affair.

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 Songs for a Tailor by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Songs for a Tailor
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Fresh out of Cream, JAcj Bruce went out shopping for heavy friends to make his debut solo album, and one can only be impressed by who he managed to lure back in the studio. Outside Harry Georgesson (only present on the opening track, but remember Goodbye's Badge song?), we also find Swinging London jazz-scene stalwarts jazzers Harry Beckett and Henry Lowther (both on trumpet) and Art Themen (sax). From another side of JB's alumni, Colosseum dudes DHS (sax) and Hiseman (who had replaced Jack and Ginger in Graham Bond's ORGANization), and Chris Spedding (most likely via lyricist Pete Brown's Ornaments), future Nucleus drummer John Marshall (then with Graham Collier) and finally Papparlardi (the Mountain man and Cream producer). Heavy friends, uh?? Gladly the really heavy dude Leslie West was out of reach ;o))). As for the megalomaniac JB, he sings, basses, pianoes, organs and even cellos on one track.

SFAT is actually JB's second album, since TWL was recorded in 68, but only released two years later (after the present), and this "debut" album is filled with songs intended for Cream but unused, due to that band's early demise. And in some ways, despite some sometimes drastically different arrangements, it's clear that some tracks could've been featured on any of the last three Cream releases, but it's hardly a rule of thumb. Take away the brass from the opener Never Tell, and you've got an almost-classic Cream tune. Other Cream-related tunes are Weird Of Hermiston, Boston Ball and Clearout, all three written during the Cream-lifetime, but neither are particularly strong (IMHO), but two of them features the heavy brass section.

You'll also find two of JB/PB tunes that have been most inspirational to loads f musicians (including Colosseum, who used both tracks in their live shows) like Imaginary Western and Rope Ladder, both could've been Cream numbers, but here dramatically changed, the latter featuring Jack's cello talents. Ministry Of Bag and Richmond are average, but don't feel like fillers. Isengard's intro is the album's most acoustic moment and it also features Felix on vocals alongside JB, but halfway in JB's bass comes unleashed and Spedding's guitar follows

The album's title was a dedication to Jeannie Franklin, a hip LA tailor that made clothes for cream and that died in the Fairport Convention van accident that also killed drummer Lamble. SFAT is JB's most emblematic solo album, but don't expect loads of Cream histrionics or even TW's Lifetime delirium. This is a bunch of fairly-short songs (max 3:30, except for the lengthier Isengard), but little space for major solos. The album is relatively uneven (read too diverse to be really cohesive), but has no real weakness either, and is certainly an important release for its time, and has managed to remain in the publics' subconscious ever since.

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 Seven Moons Live (with Robin Trower) by BRUCE, JACK album cover Live, 2009
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Seven Moons Live (with Robin Trower)
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

— First review of this album —
5 stars Never too soon!

I am really pleased that JB has finally made it to PA. He is a deserving artist whose work spans many genres. An elder statesman of the music scene, he's left his mark in many categories, be that Rock, Jazz, or Blues. He has previously collaborated with Robin Trower, another veteran of the Rock scene, on the BLT (Bruce, Lorber, Trower) projects.

"Seven Moons" finds Bruce and Trower together again delivering mature compositions with the assistance of the excellent Gary Husband (one time PA member, too!) on the skins. All of them are seasoned musicians with a combined wealth of talent and experience and the end result speaks for itself.

Trower is a fine musician who comes from the "Hendrix school". He is one of the few whose well crafted guitar licks often evoke memories of Hendrix. It's fair to say that he is reluctant to stretch out, preferring shorter tunes filled with impeccable, albeit brief solos.

Having said that, the three "old warhorses" perfectly complement each other here, providing a fine balance. The material is largely based on the studio album, but naturally, the live performance includes some old favourites, too. Excellent work and both live and studio versions of "Seven Moons" are highly recommended. It's pleasing to see that many decades on it's still possible to compose material that sounds fresh and new.

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 Harmony Row by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.52 | 18 ratings

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Harmony Row
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jack Bruce was of course part of the legendary power trio CREAM that thrilled audiences in the latter half of the sixties. This is Jack's third solo album released in 1971. What actually drew me to this one was the lineup. A trio including John Marshall (NUCLEUS, SOFT MACHINE) on drums and Chris Spedding (NUCLEUS) on guitar. Jack is an impressive bass player and he can sing too. The music here is of the fairly straight forward singer songwriter style with piano and vocals dominating. A disappointment for sure as I was anticipating that the focus would be on the instrumental work, but it's not. This is almost Folky at times and the Jazz / Fusion roots of Spedding and Marshall are no where to be found.

"Can You Follow" is mellow with piano and vocals. "Escape To The Royal Wood (On Ice)" is a top three for me. Piano and drums early as the vocals join in. An uptempo tune that reminds me of the STRAWBS. I like the bass and vocal melodies 2 1/2 minutes in. "You Burned The Tables On Me" is uptempo with the vocals and piano standing out. "There's A Forest" is laid back with piano and vocals. "Morning Story" is another top three. Just a great sound here then it settles back as the vocals and piano stand out. "Folk Song" is mellow with reserved vocals.

"Smiles And Grins" is finally a song where there's some focus on the instrumental work. Well that is until around 1 1/2 minutes in when the vocals arrive. Nice bass and drum work before 3 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop for a short time. "Post War" is my final top three. A bright tune with good lyrics and the guitar is interesting too here. "A Letter Of Thanks" is different as the vocals are almost theatrical. "Victoria Sage" opens with vocals and piano then it picks up with organ and a beat a minute in. The vocals and piano continue. "The Consul At Sunset" has a Spanish vibe to it and i'm not a fan.

Well some good songs here for sure but for the Prog fan i'm sure you'll be left wanting.

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 Live '75 by BRUCE, JACK album cover Live, 1975
3.98 | 4 ratings

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Live '75
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A very welcome surprise indeed, this belated reissue documenting the The Jack Bruce Band's 1975 British tour adds another excellent chapter to the ex-Cream bassist's already impressive discography. Recorded at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in England and featuring a line-up comprised of Bruce(bass, vocals), Mick Taylor(guitar), Carla Bley(keyboards), Ronnie Leahy(piano) and Gary Bruce(drums), the imaginatively-titled 'Live '75' finds this particular five-piece in fine form, churning out an impressive set featuring mainly Bruce originals and topped off with a fiery, twelve-minute rendition of Cream's signature piece 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. Add an expertly-crafted, twenty-five minute version of 'Waterfalls', a similarly-sized delivery of 'Smiles & Grins' and a seventeen-minute long blending of both Bruce's 'One' and 'You Burned The Tables On Me' and what you have is a truly epic recording that really does leave no stone unturned. Fans of both Bruce's varied solo work, his time with Cream, the three similarly-styled Baker Gurvitz Army albums(featuring Cream cohort Ginger Baker) and classic rock staples such as Chicago, Dave Mason and Humble Pie will surely be in dreamland with this excellent double-live offering that also shows what a prolific period the 1970's was for one of Rock's most iconic bassists. Highly recommended, 'Live '75' could just be one of the reissues of the year.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Harmony Row by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.52 | 18 ratings

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Harmony Row
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars Another wonderful jazz-rock and progressive-pop record from Jack Bruce.

Reducing the backing band from his debut to guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer John Marshall, Jack Bruce continued to play a wide range of instruments himself for his second solo album Harmony Row. If not as commercially successful as his debut, it remains a more satisfying album on many levels.

Tonally Harmony Row occupies similar territory for 'Songs for a Tailor,' with Bruce's piano featuring heavily, usually more prominent than his trademark 'busy' bass. The album weaves a range of moody pieces into a more cohesive collection, aided by the fact that the spangled ferocity of some of Spedding's playing has been eased off. Without a brass section too, the album has a bluer feel, though 'You Burned the Tables on Me' still cooks and there's a tension within 'Morning Story', whereas the blues-rock of 'A Letter of Thanks' gives way to more rock than blues.

This time too, the shorter songs are more thematically consistent with the other pieces. 'Can You Follow' is a beautiful introduction and companion piece to 'Escape to the Royal Wood' for instance. Brown's lyrics are a little more direct, constructing a narrative more often than referencing literature. Only on "Smiles and Grins' (another standout) does an almost disturbing circus feel come to the organ and we see the structure become more fluid than other songs, with a bit of an extended bridge and an instrumental outro. While 'Veronica Sage' misses the mark for me, 'The Consul at Sunset' does not - and showcases Jack Bruce's ability to support a lead vocal with some effective backing. It's languid piano chords are backed by acoustic guitar and percussion, rather than a full kit, and works as a pleasant island getaway.

Once again, this is a four-star album for me, and while it lacks the broader palette that his previous record is drawn from, the consistency of 'Harmony Row' is a real selling point. Overall if you like your pop to have a bit of jazz or to take chances with both structure and genre, then you will enjoy this - it's quite heartfelt at times but conceals a really satisfying approach to songwriting.

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 Songs for a Tailor by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Songs for a Tailor
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by dreadpirateroberts

4 stars Jack Bruce slips out from under the shadow of Cream.

The first thing you'll notice on Songs for a Tailor is the way Bruce's unmistakable voice propels the album's short songs into a familiar place. At the same time, he has collected a set of songs that have a decidedly 'pop' feel to their rock, or even a 'jazz' feel to their pop. And I don't mean for 'pop' to suggest predictable, as these inventive pop songs offer something unusual and are more thoughtfully arranged than some of Cream's jam-based pieces.

Once again, Pete Brown is at the helm lyrically (often to the album's benefit) and although the Cream connections are not limited to that fact, ('The Clearout' and 'Weird of Hermiston' were demoed during Cream recording sessions) the bulk of this album shows Jack determined to move beyond the Cream sound, and succeeding.

It seems he wanted to release something more genre-blurring than either Cream or the album that his jazz combo had just recorded 'Things We Like', and so Songs For a Tailor was slotted in and released first. Perhaps some of that rushed feeling can be seen in the short, almost 'sketch-like' nature of some pieces, like the still-effective vocal layering of 'Boston Ball Game 1937' or the pastoral then scattered 'To Isengard.'

Other songs are more fully developed, such as the opener. Featuring George Harrison on guitar, 'Never Tell Your Mother She's Out of Tune' is backed by a small horn section and is a bit of a rocker, while the beautiful 'Theme from an Imaginary Western' is a classic. Other songs will stick with you too, like 'Tickets to Waterfalls' and the melancholy 'Weird of Hermiston.'

Songs for a Tailor has a strong first side with a more uneven second half, in an album that well deserves the attention of Jack Bruce and Cream fans, along with those interested in the more progressive or jazzy side of pop. This is an album that showcases Jack on many instruments, perhaps the most notable being piano. It's a key component to the record, and in much of the material on his next few albums too.

It's a four star debut for me. It has a charm that shouldn't be overlooked and while it won't suit every prog fan, it should please fans of the the progressive pop sub-genre,or even some jazz fans, and is essential for fans of Bruce.

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Thanks to dick heath for the artist addition.

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