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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jack Bruce - Songs for a Tailor" CD, Album, Reissue, 2003/1969 (Polydor)

Jack Bruce was my guy in Cream.  I never was a fan of Eric Clapton, even though as a teenager I fell for his "importance" due to my friends at the time.   Except for "Badge" and a few others, the Jack-Cream songs were it.  And as much as possible I tried to stay as far away from the Cream live recordings.  I hated them in 1968, and I still dislike them.  But Jack Bruce/Cream/Peter Brown part of Cream, almost perfect.   In 1969, I did buy the Jack Bruce song because I knew it had to be good.  And good it is, if not fantastic.  

Since Bruce is a bass player, the bass is way up high or part of the overall mix on this album, and I love that.  His playing embraces and holds the song as a frame, with the melody and the other stuff inside the frame.  An underrated songwriter, and the fact that he had an open mind with respect to different types of music - such as jazz and the experimental side of pop music making or unique collaborations.  Clapton never went there, and Ginger Baker, God bless him, also was an adventurer at heart.  Another artist that comes to mind is Mick Karn, who was the bass player for the band Japan. There is that jazzy, strong bass holding the material together.  Karn's first solo album is emotionally direct as well as his bass playing.  Perhaps a strange connection, but listening to the Bruce album, it brings memories of Karn as well. 

"Songs for a Tailor" is for me the next step after the studio side of Cream's "Wheels of Fire."  "Rope Ladder to the Moon" could have been part of the "Wheels of Fire" album.  It's cello/bass, and dynamic acoustic guitar playing (by Bruce) is dreamy but rhythmic.  One has to give notice to the poetic lyrics by Peter Brown, and it's interesting that Bruce worked with such a literary bent, then say "I love you do you love me" rhyme/sentiment.   Still, there is an emotional pull in their songs.  Brown's lyrics are baroque and visual, and Bruce treats them not only as a personal statement but also 'performs' these songs though his singing.   I can imagine Bruce being in a musical. 

The beauty of "Songs for a Tailor" is Bruce expanding his canvas or landscape and filling it with a strong essence of wonderful songs, but again, his voice and bass playing is essential here.  It's obvious to me that he needed to get out of the Cream framework because I think it became too confining.   It's a great album to revisit time-to-time.  "Songs For a Tailor" still sounds strong and mighty.