Fine if sometimes obscure music-making from fiery Scots legend

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Jack Bruce made his first appearance in the ferocious mid-’60s R&B quartet The Graham Bond Organisation, singing and playing bass and harmonica with a uniquely passionate attack matched by his rhythm section partner, drummer Ginger Baker. The band made two highly collectable albums before splitting. Bruce went on, via a brief sojourn with Manfred Mann, to form Cream with Baker and Eric Clapton. One of the prototype power trios, Cream were among the leading British acts of the late ’60s, their reputaion built primarily on their concert performances which consisted of 90 per cent improvisation off the top of fierce, bluesy songs. Their career, however, lasted barely three years before changes in the scene forced them to call a halt to operations.

The Graham Bond Organisation’s closeness to the British jazz club scene of the time was confirmed on Things We Like, recorded in 1968 but not released until 1970. Bruce’s first solo album after the break-up of Cream thus became 1969’s Songs For A Tailor. Here, his classical training?he’s a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, where he studied piano and cello?came into play with more exploratory songwriting and arranging. An outstanding album in its day, Songs For A Tailor turns up as fresh as ever among his batch of reissues, With this release, Bruce managed to combine his skilled musicianship with a direct approach assisted by the memorable surrealism of Pete Brown’s lyrics. The later albums, of which Harmony Row is the best, are harmonically ingenious but less immediately communicative and will appeal only to determined fans of the fiery Scot’s sometimes recherch


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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter