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Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce - Willpower: A Twenty Year Retrospective - 1989 - Polydor

It was with John Mayall’s Bluebreakers that Eric Clapton first accrued status as Britain’s premier guitar hero. His groundbreaking electric blues playing made such an impact on fans that graffiti-type scribblings of “Clapton is God” became the favored slogan on London walls. His stint with the Bluesbreakers made him a star in the U.K., but with Cream, Clapton would establish himself as an icon on both sides of the Atlantic. It was with this super-trio that Clapton, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker would experience real commercial success and international recognition. From 1966 to 1968, Cream would record future classics like “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room”, “Crossroads”, “I Feel Free” and “Badge”, while at the same time pushing the boundaries of live performance with their improvisational prowess. Following the demise of Cream, Eric Clapton continued to thrive musically, and the hits of every subsequent decade have included his music—from songs like “Layla”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, and “Lay Down Sally” to “Forever Man”, “She’s Waiting” and “Running on Faith”, to “Tears in Heaven”, “Before You Accuse Me” and “Change the World”. Unlike Clapton, Jack Bruce hasn’t spent the last 30 years churning out readily accessible commercial songs, nor has he enjoyed high visibility on MTV and VH1—media that Clapton has used to great effect. For Bruce, commercial success seemingly began and ended with Cream. But while Clapton’s recent history has been well documented, to most, Jack Bruce’s is shrouded in mystery. A child prodigy, Jack Bruce was a multi-instrumentalist with a strong background in jazz and classical music who, at age 17, had won a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music for cello and composition. By 1962, Bruce had landed his first important gig with Alexis Korner’s Blues, Inc., that included drummer Charlie Watts, who would later join the Rolling Stones. A year later, Bruce would join forces with organist Graham Bond, drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist John McLaughlin in what would later be known as the seminal Graham Bond Organization. A brief stint with the Bluesbreakers a few years later brought Bruce and Clapton together—a fateful meeting that would soon result in the successful association, Cream. With Cream, Eric Clapton would undoubtedly garner most of the attention, mainly out of his growing reputation as resident guitar god. But it was Jack Bruce’s presence that would prove paramount to the band’s impending success; he penned most of Cream’s original material with lyrical collaborator Pete Brown. Without Jack Bruce there would’ve been no “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room”, “I Feel Free” or “Deserted Cities of the Heart”, nor would Cream have had his distinctive, powerful vocals to propel most of the band’s catalog. In the end, it was Bruce who felt that he had strayed too far from his roots, and that perhaps Cream had gone as far as it possibly could. His desire to create new and untapped forms of music was too great to ignore, and his vision could never really be accomplished with Cream. So with the band’s demise, Jack Bruce dove head first into as many diverse collaborations as possible, with the goal of pushing the envelope of musical tradition. His ‘70s experience would commence after the release of his critically acclaimed solo debut, Songs for a Tailor (1969). Throughout the decade Bruce would work simultaneously in series of rock, jazz and classical formats, collaborating with Tony Williams Lifetime, jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Robin Trower, Leslie West and Corky Laing, while interspersing several fine solo records in the process. Ironically, Jack Bruce’s Willpower: A Twenty Year Retrospective, originally released in 1989, features none of the collaborative efforts previously mentioned, but focuses almost exclusively upon his ‘70s solo ventures. Of the album’s 17 tracks only two Cream tracks—the classic “White Room” and the haunting, open-tuned acoustic number “As You Said”—made the final cut. Eric Clapton also makes an appearance on two previously unreleased songs, “Ships in the Night” and the title track. Although recorded in 1987, “Willpower” sounds as if it jumped off of Disraeli Gears with Clapton reverting back to his classic Cream guitar sound. Recorded during the same sessions, “Ships in the Night” features a breathtaking duet between Bruce and vocalist Maggie Reilly, with Clapton rounding out the song with a blistering yet poignant guitar statement. In essence, the rest of Willpower lifts equally from Songs for a Tailor, Harmony Row (1971), Out of the Storm (1974), How’s Tricks? (1977) and his unreleased 1978 effort, Jet Set Jewel. You won’t find any catchy pop here; instead, what is unearthed are sophisticated, cleverly written and arranged compositions that are designed to move the listener. Nowhere is this more true than on Bruce’s Procol Harum-ish tour-de-force, “Songs for an Imaginary Western” and the somber piano ballad, “Can You Follow?” The other magic moments that follow are just as impressive including “Rope Ladder to the Moon”, “Morning Story” and the jazzy, brass-infused, “Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune”. Willpower: A Twenty Year Retrospective serves as a perfect introduction to those unfamiliar with Jack Bruce’s post-Cream endeavors. This disc offers up the best of Jack Bruce, the brilliant multi-instrumentalist, profound vocalist, visionary songwriter and a musician who, 30 years after his greatest success, is still on a mission—even if most aren’t privy to it. By & © Scott Hudson 10 September 2001 © 1999-2011 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/brucejack-willpower

Willpower was really designed to be Jack Bruce's Crossroads -- it followed Clapton's monumental box by a year, had similar artwork, a similar approach that blended selections from throughout his various projects, and the same remastering/production team. Thing is, Bruce didn't have the commercial success of Clapton, nor did he have the same sizable following (although his fans were indeed devoted), and critics just sorta gave up paying attention around 1970, so there wasn't much of an audience for Willpower upon its release in 1989. Nevertheless, it's a pretty terrific summary of Bruce's career, never staying too long in one particular period (even the selections from Cream lack such heavy hitters as "Sunshine of Your Love" or "I Feel Free"), and encapsulating how unpredictable and adventurous Bruce's career has been. This is not heavy on hits, even if it has such signature songs as "White Room," "Theme for an Imaginary Western," "Never Tell Your Mother She's Out of Tune," "How's Tricks," and "As You Said," because Bruce never had that many hits, even radio hits. But it does provide a through, representative introduction. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/willpower-a-twenty-year-retrospective-r78140

Check out West, Bruce and Laing's "Whatever Turns You On", BBM (Baker, Bruce, & Moore) "Around The Next Dream", Jack Bruce's "I've Always Wanted To Do This", Jack Bruce's "Shadows In The Air", Jack Bruce's "Spirit - Live At The BBC", and The Jack Bruce Band's "Live '75 (aka Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall)" albums on this blog [All tracks @ 192 Kbps: File size = 100 Mb]


1 Willpower 4:18
2 As You Said 4:21
3 White Room 5:01
4 Rope Ladder to the Moon 2:53
5 Theme for an Imaginary Western 3:28
6 Never Tell Your Mother She's Out of Tune 3:40
7 Can You Follow? 1:31
8 Morning Story 4:55
9 Folk Song 4:17
10 Keep It Down 3:45
11 Pieces of Mind 5:40
12 Without a Word 5:21
13 How's Tricks? 4:12
14 Jet Set Jewel 5:22
15 Mickey the Fiddler 5:24
16 The Best Is Still to Come 4:11
17 Ships in the Night 5:15

All tracks composed by Jack Bruce & Pete Brown except "Willpower" by Jack Bruce, Peter Brown, & Paul Westerberg


Jack Bruce - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Harmonium, Cello, Vocals
George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Chris Spedding, Clem Clempson, Steve Hunter - Guitar
Hugh Burns - Guitar, Vocals
Peter Weihe - Acoustic Guitar
Tony Hymas - Keyboards, String Arrangements, Vocals
Ginger Baker - Drums, Hi Hat, Tympani
Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Jon Hiseman, Stuart Elliott, John Marshall - Drums
Simon Phillips - Drums, Vocals
Dick Heckstall-Smith, Art Themen - Soprano Sax & Tenor Sax
Henry Lowther, Harry Beckett - Trumpet
Felix Pappalardi - Viola, Vocals
Maggie Reilly - Vocals


Although some may be tempted to call multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer Jack Bruce a rock & roll musician, blues and jazz are what this innovative musician really loves. As a result, these two genres are at the base of most of the recorded output from a career that goes back to the beginning of London's blues scene in 1962. In that year, he joined Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. Throughout the following decades and into the 21st century, Bruce has always been a supreme innovator, pushing himself into uncharted waters with his jazz and folk-rock compositions. Bruce's most famous songs are, in essence, blues tunes: "Sunshine of Your Love," "Strange Brew," "Politician," and "White Room." Bruce's best-known songs remain those he penned for Cream, the legendary blues-rock trio he formed with drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton in July 1966. Baker and Bruce played together for five years before Clapton came along, and although their trio only lasted until November 1968, the group is credited with changing the face of rock & roll and bringing blues to a worldwide audience. Through their creative arrangements of classic blues tunes like Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," Skip James' "I'm So Glad," Willie Dixon's "Spoonful," and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," the group helped popularize blues-rock and led the way for similar groups that came about later on, like Led Zeppelin. Bruce was born May 14, 1943, in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow, Scotland. His father was a big jazz fan, and so he includes people like Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller among his earliest influences. He grew up listening to jazz and took up bass and cello as a teen. After three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, he left, disgusted with the politics of music school. After traveling around Europe for a while, he settled into the early blues scene in 1962 in London, where he eventually met drummer Ginger Baker. He played with British blues pioneers Alexis Korner and Graham Bond before leaving in 1965 to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, whose guitarist was Eric Clapton. This gave him time to get his chops together without having to practice. With Manfred Mann, who he also played with before forming Cream, Bruce learned about the business of making hit songs. Cream's reputation for long, extended blues jams began at the Fillmore in San Francisco at a concert organized by impresario Bill Graham. Bruce later realized that Cream gave him a chance to succeed as a musician, and admitted that if it weren't for that group, he might never have escaped London. After Cream split up in November 1968, Bruce formed Jack Bruce & Friends with drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Larry Coryell. Recording-wise, Bruce took a different tack away from blues and blues-rock, leaning more in a folk-rock direction with his solo albums Songs for a Tailor (1969), Harmony Row (1971), and Out of the Storm (1974). In 1970 and 1971, he worked with Tony Williams Lifetime before putting together another power trio with guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing in 1972, simply called West, Bruce & Laing. After working with Frank Zappa on his album Apostrophe in 1974, Bruce was at it again in 1975 with the Jack Bruce Band, whose members included keyboardist Carla Bley and guitarist Mick Taylor. Back on the road in 1980 with Jack Bruce & Friends, the latter version of the group included drummer Billy Cobham, keyboardist David Sancious, and guitarist Clem Clempson, formerly of Humble Pie. In the early '80s, he formed another trio, B.L.T., this time with guitarist Robin Trower, before working with Kip Hanrahan on his three solo albums. Bruce's bluesiest albums include all of his work with Cream, the albums B.L.T. and Truce with Trower, some of his West, Bruce & Laing recordings, and several of his albums from the 1980s and early '90s. These include Willpower (PolyGram, 1989); A Question of Time (Epic Records, 1989), which includes guest performances by Albert Collins, Nicky Hopkins, and Baker; as well as his CMP Records live career-retrospective album, recorded in Cologne, France, Cities of the Heart (1993). Bruce released Monkjack in 1995, an album of his jazz piano compositions which he performs with organist Bernie Worrell, issued on CMP. Bruce recorded the fierce Shadows in the Air in 2001 with a new band called the Cuicoland Express that included Vernon Reid, Worrell, and Robby Ameen, and guest artists Eric Clapton and Dr. John for the CMC International/Sanctuary imprint. Bruce reunited with Robin Trower for 2008's Seven Moons, released on Evangeline Records, following it with Seven Moons Live a year later in 2009. In 2010 Bruce joined the Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band with Reid, organist John Medeski, and drummer Cindy Blackman and toured in the late part of the year and in early 2011 to sold-out performances and rave critical reviews. Also in 2011, Pledge Music, a company that pairs fans and artists to fund projects, released Jack Bruce and the Cuicoland Express Live at the Milky Way, from a 2001 concert in Amsterdam. The high-quality recording was provided by Bruce's daughters, who designed the cover as well. © Richard Skelly © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jack-bruce-p3787/biography


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w if needed is aoofc

Big D said...

Yo yo

Jack Bruce, man - again !! This has officially given me the horn, man.

God bless you

Big D

A.O.O.F.C said...

Gives me the old bugle as well, Big D!

Andrew said...

Thanks- I am really grateful for all of the great music that you have posted!


Danneau said...

Nice trip down memory lane.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Andrew. I'm grateful for your time and interest in this blog. Cheers!...P

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks,Danneau. Who said "nostalgia ain't what it used to be"? TTU soon...P

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Jack Bruce taught me how to play bass - although he doesn't know this :-)


A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,dD. Dy'a think Jack'd be pleased with your progress? (lol)! TTU soon...P