The Jack Bruce Band – Live ’75
I was nowt but a month old when Jack Bruce took his short-lived band of musical desperadoes to the Manchester Trade Hall for the recording of Live ’75.
Formed to tour the 1974 album Out of the Storm, the Jack Bruce Band dig a little deeper for this particular show, incorporating, not only, that record, but also material from Song for a Tailor, Harmony Row and Cream’s Disraeli Gears.
Featuring jazz keyboardist Carla Bley; journeyman keyboardist Ronnie Leahy; late drummer with The Knack, Bruce Gary; and a post-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor, the Jack Bruce Band was a formidable assembly of musical talent, spearheaded by one of most respected bassists of the 60s and 70s. And the calibre of musicianship on display is more than evident throughout this superior live document of a troupe whose musical alignment was all too brief.
Kicking off with ‘Can You Follow?’, a faithful rendition of Harmony Row’s intro, featuring Bruce alone with his piano, the rest of the band spring to life as we hit the second track from that album; an extended version of the powerful ‘Morning Story’, featuring some wonderful Mellotron textures, courtesy of Carla Bley.
The Jack Bruce Band remains tight throughout, retaining the studio sound, while using it as a springboard from which to launch into more expressive, often improvisational, territory. Only their version of ‘Pieces of Mind’ comes close to matching the running length of the album original. For instance, a mash-up of Song for a Tailor’s ‘Tickets to Waterfalls’, the excellent ‘Weird of Hermiston’ and Harmony Row’s ‘Post War’ weighs in at a hefty 24 minutes, with plenty of enthusiastic noodling along the way.
As this is a two disc affair, the second part continues in a similar vein, with lengthy workouts of the wonderful ‘One’, ‘You Burned the Tables on Me’, ‘Smiles and Grins’, and for the aging hippies in the audience, Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’; the latter clocking in at Clapton-free 12 minutes.
Mick Taylor is on fine form throughout, providing the same no-nonsense reliability he brought to The Stones, and Jack Bruce is… well, Jack Bruce. Confident on both vocals and bass, you know pretty much what you’re getting with a 70s-era Brucie bonus and he lives up to those expectations.
Deserved of special mention are keyboard players Carla Bley and Ronnie Leahy, whose threadwork of organ, synths and electric piano weaves a mesmerising tapestry of illuminated sound from start to finish. The only criticism of the entire album would be that these two are occasionally quite low down in the mix… but hey, that’s personal preference for you.
Live ’75 is an excellent set, nicely remastered and up there with the likes of Bursting Out, Yessongs and Alive and Well, so far as live prog packages go.
Live ’75 by the Jack Bruce Band is out now and available to buy from Amazon.co.uk
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