1

Jack Bruce: Things We Like

Sacha O'Grady By

Sign in to view read count
Jack Bruce: Jack Bruce: Things We Like Jack Bruce remains one of the most enduring and fascinating figures of late 20th century popular music. By the age of eleven, he had already written his own string quartet, before eventually attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, from which he left at the age of seventeen having become disenchanted with his tutors and also due to the impoverished circumstances of his family. After a spate of travel he found his way to London, where he performed with a number of local dance bands and jazz groups, before joining Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated in 1962. He quit Korner's group only a year later to join Graham Bond, an early pioneer of R&B and, more importantly, jazz-fusion. Bond's band also included John McLaughlin and Ginger Baker, and became one of the most seminal British groups (along with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers) of the early to mid 1960's. But it wasn't until 1966, when he was asked by Ginger Baker on Eric Clapton's bequest to join Cream that he found his true calling, where for the next two and a half years rock's first power trio racked up sales of some 35 million albums, including sell out tours across Europe and America. But in the months before Cream finally imploded in 1968, Bruce booked some time at IBC Studios in London, in hope of fulfilling his dream of making a jazz album with some of his previous and most prestigious colleagues.

Jack made a few calls, and before long he had Dick Heckstall-Smith (ex Graham Bond Organisation) on saxophone, drummer Jon Hiseman, and guitarist John McLaughlin. As Jack explained, "Because of the success of Cream I had the ability to go into the studio and record an album of jazz-based material. The compositions I chose to record were mainly those I'd written when I was eleven years old." Now this critic can't speak for anyone else, but I haven't met too many people who've told me that the inspiration behind their latest creation was based on work they'd written before they were capable of procreating. Or perhaps Bruce was one of those wunderkinds who was just a few years ahead of natural evolution. Who knows.

The almost free jazz of "Over the Cliff" is the opening track, and is all energized drumming and schizo-sax, certainly not the sort of thing one would have expected from the man who brought us such rock anthems as "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love." "Statues" is another experimental, sax dominated number, though by the 2:20 mark the band break out into something a little more structured and listener friendly, in that free jazz 1950's sort of way. In other words, if you're not into people such as Ornette Coleman, then this is probably not for you.

On the medley "Sam Enchanted Dick/Sam's Sack/Rills Thrills" the group sound like a quartet of cosmologists arguing over the nature of Dark Matter, each with their own point of view and theory as to what it is and how to find it. The saxophone on "Born to Be Blue" almost borders on atonal, but Heckstall-Smith doesn't stray too far from the scales of normality, always managing to prevent the composition from wandering off into the farthest reaches of the avant-garde universe.

"HCKHH Blues" sees the band in busy highbrow affair, with plenty of tight yet nervous drumming from Hiseman, a little neurotic saxophone by Heckstall-Smith, and some angst-ridden guitar courtesy of McLaughlin. What really stands out is Bruce on double bass, whose technique is so natural that even Charles Mingus would have been impressed. The same goes on "Ballad for Arthur," a relaxing piece, with Jack plucking at the bass strings, while McLaughlin finds his inner Zen.

The title track is perhaps the most accessible of the lot, and actually the most enjoyable. Yes it's busy, yes it's irritable and unnerving in places, but there's something about it which this listener in particular can't quite put his finger on. I guess like a lot of aspects in life. It's the things we like after all.

Recorded over three days, in August 1968, Things We Like wasn't released until 1970, once Cream was well and truly over, and Bruce had embarked on his solo career proper, beginning with the superb Songs for a Tailor in 1969. And although the record failed to chart, it was received well by the critics, who regarded it as an exceptional study in modern jazz. While many fans of his previous band must have thought "what's all this cerebral rubbish? Bring back Eric!"

Jack Bruce was a man of prodigious musical ability, and when he passed away in 2014, it was as if not just one star, but an entire constellation had suddenly gone out. Such was his contribution to popular music, a contribution which was as immeasurable as it was magnificent. He will never be forgotten.

Track Listing: Over The Cliff; Statues; Sam Enchanted Dick; Born To Be Blue; HCKHH Blues; Ballad for Arthur; Things We Like; Ageing Jack Bruce, Three, From Scotland, England (bonus track).

Personnel: Jack Bruce: Double bass; Dick Heckstall-Smith: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; John McLaughlin: guitar; Jon Hiseman: drums

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Polydor Records | Style: Beyond Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House Extended Analysis Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House
by John Kelman
Published: March 4, 2017
Read Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Buddy Guy: Can't Quit The Blues" Extended Analysis Buddy Guy: Can't Quit The Blues
by Doug Collette
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Extended Analysis Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings" Extended Analysis Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Akinola Sennon: Cousoumeh" Extended Analysis Akinola Sennon: Cousoumeh
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl" Extended Analysis The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now - Volumes II, III, IV & DVD" Extended Analysis Van Morrison: It's Too Late to Stop Now - Volumes II,...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!