Jack Bruce – Live ’75 (2003)

FrontCover1John Symon Asher Bruce (14 May 1943 – 25 October 2014) was a Scottish bassist, singer-songwriter, musician and composer. He gained popularity as the co-lead vocalist and ‍bassist ‍of British rock band Cream. After the group disbanded in 1968, he pursued a solo career and also played with several bands.

In the early 1960s Bruce joined the Graham Bond Organisation (GBO), where he met his future bandmate Ginger Baker. After leaving the band, he joined with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, where he met Eric Clapton, who also became his future bandmate.

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His time with the band was brief. In 1966, he formed Cream with lead guitarist Clapton and drummer Baker; he co-wrote many of their songs (including “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room” and “I Feel Free”) with poet/lyricist Pete Brown. After the group disbanded in the late 1960s he began recording solo albums. His first solo album, Songs for a Tailor, released in 1969, was a worldwide hit. Bruce formed his own band to perform the material live, and subsequently formed a blues-rock band West, Bruce and Laing in 1972, with guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing. His solo career spanned several decades. From the 1970s to the 1990s he played with several groups as a touring member. He reunited with Cream in 2005 for concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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Bruce is considered to be one of the most important and influential ‍bassists ‍of all time. ‍Rolling Stone magazine readers ranked him number eight on their list of “10 ‍Greatest ‍Bassists ‍Of All Time”. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993,[2] and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006,[3] both as a member of Cream.

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Live at Manchester Free Trade Hall ’75 is a live album by the Jack Bruce Band released in 2003. It was compiled from a rough mix of a recording of a performance at Manchester Free Trade Hall in June 1975, the only surviving remnant of an abandoned live album project. Bruce’s bass guitar is not very prominent in the mix. (wikipedia)

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This double-CD set was one of the unexpected bonuses of the 2001/2002 remastering of Jack Bruce’s RSO/Polydor catalog — amid a search of the vaults, a tape of this performance, the only official live recording of the Jack Bruce Band, was unearthed. They were news to Bruce at the time of their discovery, rough mixes done in contemplation of a concert album that was abandoned. It has its technical problems, but it was possible to clean up most of the sound to a fully professional modern standard, except for a couple of spots where extraneous noise does intrude, especially on the opening of disc two. But those are insignificant flaws in relation to the overall content of these tapes, which capture the band in fine form, especially Bruce, lead guitarist Mick Taylor, and keyboardist Carla Bley — Ronnie Leahy fills out the keyboard sound and Bruce Gary handles the drumming. Their sound is surprisingly tight and their playing rich and crisp, doing a mix of progressive rock and blues-rock in which there are at least four potential lead instruments beyond Bruce’s voice, which is extremely powerful throughout and, indeed, more expressive on-stage than it ever seemed amid the cacophony of Cream’s concerts.

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The repertory is drawn almost entirely from his solo catalog (though they do close with an extended version of “Sunshine of Your Love”), with a special emphasis on songs from Out of the Storm. Though Carla Bley gets a lot of the spotlight for her work on piano, organ, Mellotron, and various other keyboard instruments, Leahy gets an extended featured spot on the piano for the medley of “Tickets to Waterfalls”/”Weird of Hermiston”/”Post War.” Although there are a few standard-length songs here, this was a band that mostly preferred to stretch out, a fact illustrated by the presence of only four numbers on the second CD, which runs the better part of an hour. What made it work was that they had enough to say to fill that length, even on the 23-minute “Smiles and Grins,” and the otherwise familiar “Sunshine of Your Love,” here flexed out to over 13 minutes. They switch gears effortlessly between vocal numbers like “One” and instrumental-driven jams such as “You Burned the Tables on Me,” without skipping a beat or letting the listener go.

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It’s difficult to imagine how RSO would have released this recording reasonably intact in its own time — there are too many tracks here that would have taken up a full side of an LP, and while Leon Russell and a few others had made the triple-live album a reality in rock, one is hard-put to imagine RSO springing for that with Bruce, whose critical notices were fantastic but whose sales — especially in England — had never matched his reviews. So perhaps it’s just as well that this recording was forgotten but not lost, to show up today. The mix of blues, jazz elements, and hard rock, all in a free-form jam format, now seems all the more bracing and the CD market allows it to be kept intact. It’s also doubly fortunate that this show was recorded during the period in which technology had finally mastered the art of capturing the sound of various electronic keyboard devices on-stage intact — it’s a small matter, but fans of the Mellotron will probably love this release.(by Bruce Eder [-])

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Personnel:
Carla Bley (keyboard, clavinet, synthesizer)
Jack Bruce (vocals, bass piano)
Bruce Gary (drums)
Ronnie Leahy (piano, synthesizer)
Mick Taylor (guitar)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Can You Follow? (Bruce/Brown) 1.45
02. Morning Story (Bruce/Brown) 7.55
03. Keep It Down (Bruce/Brown) 5.44
04. Pieces Of Mind (Bruce/Brown) 5.55
05. Tickets To Waterfalls/Weird Of Hermiston/Post War (Bruce/Brown) 25.05
06. Spirit (Williams) 10.43

CD 2:
01. One/You Burned the Tables On Me (Bruce/Brown) 16.59
02. Smiles and Grins(Bruce/Brown) 24.36
03. Sunshine Of Your Love (Brown/Bruce/Clapton) 12.06

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B.B. King & Eric Clapton – Riding With The King (2000)

FrontCover1B.B. King & Eric Clapton: No introduction necessary !

Riding with the King is a collaborative album by B.B. King and Eric Clapton that was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The album reached number one on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum in the United States. Riding with the King was also released on a DVD-Audio in higher resolution and with a 5.1 surround sound mix in 2000.

The album was generally well received by reviewers, although some felt that it could have been better, and that the sound on the CD was too polished for a blues album.

B.B.King & Eric Clapton in the Sixites:
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Riding with the King was the first collaborative album by Eric Clapton and B.B. King. They performed together for the first time at Cafe Au Go Go in New York City in 1967 when Clapton was 22 and a member of Cream, but did not record together until 1997 when King collaborated with Clapton on the song “Rock Me Baby” for his duets album, Deuces Wild. Clapton looked up to King and had always wanted to make an album with him. King said they had discussed the project often, and added: “I admire the man. I think he’s No. 1 in rock ‘n’ roll as a guitarist and No. 1 as a great person.” At the time of recording Riding with the King, Clapton was 55 and King 74.

Clapton initiated the recording sessions for Riding with the King and included some of his regular session musicians on the album. He also chose the songs and co-produced the album with Simon Climie, who had previously worked on several of Clapton’s albums. While this would appear to be a Clapton album recorded with King, Clapton gave center-stage to King, who took the lead on many of the songs with his singing and his solos.

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The album contains five “vintage” King songs from the 1950s and 1960s: “Ten Long Years”, “Three O’Clock Blues”, “Help the Poor”, “Days of Old” and “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer”.[3] Other standards include the Big Bill Broonzy-penned “Key to the Highway” (which Clapton had recorded in the early 1970s with Derek and the Dominos), Chicago pianist Maceo Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues”, a cover of Isaac Hayes’s composition “Hold On, I’m Comin'” originally a 1966 single for Sam & Dave, and “Come Rain or Come Shine” from the 1946 musical St. Louis Woman. Two of the songs, “I Wanna Be” and “Marry You”, previously appeared on guitarist Doyle Bramhall II’s 1999 solo album, Jellycream. The album’s title track, “Riding with the King”, is a John Hiatt composition that came about when producer Scott Mathews recounted to Hiatt a strange and abstract dream he had of flying on an airplane with Elvis Presley. It is also the title track of Hiatt’s 1983 album of the same name that Mathews co-produced. The balance of the tracks were written especially for the album.

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The tracks are a mixture of acoustic (“Worried Life Blues”) and electric songs (“Three O’Clock Blues”), and vary from slow numbers (“Ten Long Years”) to “mid-tempo stomps” (“Help the Poor”).

Steve Futterman at Entertainment Weekly called the “father” and “son” collaboration “triumphant”.[6] Louis Gerber wrote in Cosmopolis that Riding with the King “goes directly to the heart and soul” and is a “refreshing and sensational album, the best in the popular music genre since the release of Santana’s Supernatural”.

Dave Ferman wrote in the Mobile Register that while the album was a “great idea well-executed”, it is not as good as it could have been. Ferman complained that, in his opinion, Clapton has never been a very good blues vocalist, that Joe Sample’s keyboards were far too prominent in the mix, and that the CD sounded too “squeaky-clean, … antiseptic and clinical” for a blues album.

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Nicole Bode wrote in the Columbia Daily Spectator that on the album, King takes Clapton “deeper into blues territory than he has ever gone alone”.[8] She said that King’s presence draws out a “raw, growling” side of Clapton’s voice that will surprise most Clapton fans.[8] She was particularly complimentary of “Come Rain or Come Shine”, on which she said King uses “a mournful vibrato so tender it almost breaks your heart”.[8] Bode also liked the call and response guitar and vocal duet of Clapton and King on “Hold On, I’m Comin'”, although she did add that Clapton’s vocals are not of the same calibre as King’s.[8]

Riding with the King peaked at number one on the Billboard Top Blues Albums in 2000,[9] and was certified 2× Multi-Platinum in the United States. The album also won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2000.

A 20th Anniversary reissue of the album was released on June 26, 2020. The reissue will feature two previously unreleased tracks, “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”, the video of which was released on Clapton’s YouTube channel on May 21, 2020, and a cover of “Let Me Love You Baby” written by Willie Dixon. (wikipedia)

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The potential for a collaboration between B.B. King and Eric Clapton is enormous, of course, and the real questions concern how it is organized and executed. This first recorded pairing between the 74-year-old King and the 55-year-old Clapton was put together in the most obvious way: Clapton arranged the session using many of his regular musicians, picked the songs, and co-produced with his partner Simon Climie. That ought to mean that King would be a virtual guest star rather than earning a co-billing, but because of Clapton’s respect for his elder, it nearly works the other way around. The set list includes lots of King specialties — “Ten Long Years,” “Three O’Clock Blues,” “Days of Old,” “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer” — as well as standards like “Hold on I’m Coming” and “Come Rain or Come Shine,” with some specially written and appropriate recent material thrown in, so King has reason to be comfortable without being complacent.

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The real danger is that Clapton will defer too much; though he can be inspired by a competing guitarist such as Duane Allman, he has sometimes tended to lean too heavily on accompanists such as Albert Lee and Mark Knopfler when working with them in concert. That danger is partially realized; as its title indicates, Riding With the King is more about King than it is about Clapton. But the two players turn out to have sufficiently complementary, if distinct, styles so that Clapton’s supportive role fills out and surrounds King’s stinging single-string playing. (It’s also worth noting that there are usually another two or three guitarists on each track.) The result is an effective, if never really stunning, work. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Doyle Bramhall II (guitar, background vocals on 04. + 07.)
Tim Carmon (organ)
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Nathan East (bass)
Andy Fairweather Low (guitar)
Steve Gadd (drums)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Joe Sample (piano)
Paul Waller (programming)
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Jimmie Vaughan (guitar on 06.)
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background vocals:
Susannah Melvoin – Wendy Melvoin
Tray1Tracklist:
01. Riding With The King (Hiatt) 4.23
02. Ten Long Years (Taub/King) 4.40
03. Key To The Highway (Broonzy/Segar) 3.39
04. Marry You (Bramhall II/Melvoin/Ross) 4.59
05. Three O’Clock Blues (Fulson) 8.35
06. Help The Poor (Singleton) 5.06
07. I Wanna Be (Bramhall II/Sexton) 4.45
08. Worried Life Blues (Hopkins/Merriweather) 4.25
09. Days Of Old (Taub/King 3:00
10. When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer (King/Taub 7:09
11. Hold On, I’m Comin’ (Hayes/Porter) 6.19
12. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 4.11
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13. Let Me Love You (Dixon) 5.07
14. Rollin’ And Tumblin’ (Traditional) 4.32

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