Bill Bruford


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Bill Bruford -- drums, percussion 

 

  supporting musicians: (1978)

- Jeff Berlin -- bass 

- John Goodsall (RIP 2021) -- rhythm guitar 

- Allan Holdsworth (RIP 2017) -- electric guitar 

- Annette Peacock lead vocals

- Dave Stewart -- keyboards 

- Kenny Wheeler (RIP) -- flugelhorn 

 

 

- Absolutely Everywhere

- Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe

- Bill Bruford's Earthworks

- Bruford Levine Upper Extremities

- Discipline

- Gong

- Gordian Knot

- King Crimson 

- Mabel Greer's Toyshop

- National Health

- Network of Sparks

- ProjeKct One

- Trigger (Roy Harper Band)

- UK

- Yes

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: jazz-rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Feels Good To Me

Company: Polydor 

Catalog:  PD-1-6149
Year:
 1978

Country/State: Sevenoaks, Kent UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00

 

 

I'm no Bill Bruford scholar and give all the bands and collaborations he's participated in over the years, you'd need a lifetime to document his career.  I'm also not a big fan of jazz-rock and hardcore progressive moves so a lot of his recording career doesn't hold much interest for me.  Still, 1979's "Feels Good To Me" is one of the exceptions.  That's due to the fact I had a college roommate who played it on a regular basis.  Even though I wasn't a big fan at the time (guest singer Annette Peacock's performances drove me crazy - my roommate swore she was a goddess), it's an album that stuck with me and I eventually bought a copy.  

 

After years supporting heavyweight bands like Genesis, King Crimson. and Yes, this album served as Bruford's solo debut.  Co-produced by Bruford and Brand X keyboardist Robin Lumley, my initial complaints over it's jazz-rock orientation have largely faded over time.  Bruford was smart enough to surround himself with an all-star cast of players including American bassist Jeff Berlin, guitarist Allan Holdsworth, keyboardist Dave Stewart, and singer Peacock (appearing on four tracks).  While Bruford's presence its felt throughout the collection, he doesn't hog the spotlight, making for a true "band" release and allowing each member plenty of opportunity to showcase their prowess.  Drummers aren't known for their songwriting skills, but Bruford was credited with writing, or co-writing all ten tracks.  About half of the material was co-written with keyboardist Stewart; while Peacock shared in writing the closer 'Adios a la pasada.'   I recently went back and listened to the album for the first time in a decade and today I hear and album that's surprisingly melodic and commercial.  Sure, it's still primarily a jazz-rock album, but instrumental tracks like 'Beelzebub', 'Back to the Beginning' and 'Either End of August' that once struck me as unconventional now sound quite open and commercial.  The title track would have sounded good on FM radio and whoever tapped it as a UK single deserves credit for the foresight.  The biggest surprise  are Peacock's contributions.  What once just sounded weird now sounds engrossing.  Peacock certainly remains an acquired taste, but a voice that once just irritated me now comes off as warm and intriguing.  Her performance on the closer 'Adios a la pasada' might alone be worth the price of admission.  The thing is I'm still not sure how to describe her.  Laurie Anderson with a much better voice (and no electric violin)?  A more experimental Kate Bush?  You'll have to figure it out and check out some of her solo catalog.  Anyhow if you're in the market for a solo album by a drummer, you could do far worse than "Feels Good To Me."

  

"Feels Good To Me" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Beelzebub (instrumental)   (Bill Bruford) - 3:16   rating: *** stars

Clearly a slice of late-'70s jazz-rock, the instrumental wasn't bad in that it had a decent melody (unlike so much of the genre) and gave the band (particularly keyboard player Dave Stewart and guitarist Allan Holdsworth) an opportunity to showcase their technical prowess.  Certainly Bruford was present, but it was interesting to note he wasn't the main focus of the track.  YouTube has a live performance of the song from a March 1979 appearance on the BBC television program Rock Goes To College.  It was also kind of cool to see DJ Pete Drummond get smacked in the face with a pie: Bruford - Beelzebub (Rock Goes To College, March 17th, 1979) - YouTube

2.) Back to the Beginning  (Bill  Bruford) -  7:09   rating: *** stars

Opening up with a ominous instrumental segment, 'Back to the Beginning' suddenly explodes with Annette Peacock strange; almost toneless vocals.  I can't accurately describe her performance since her talk/sing styling literally jump out from the rest of the song.  She actually sounded a little bit like Debbie Harry on this one.  And then there's Holdsworth's wild solo - it sounded like he just decided to play his own song in the middle of this one. As for the lyrics - perhaps the song's about addiction?  Hard to tell. Also from the Rock Goes To College concert.  Worth watching if you've never seen Peacock live: Bruford - Back To The Beginning (Rock Goes To College, March 17th, 1979) - YouTube

3.) Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Part One)   (Bill Bruford) -  2:30   rating: **** stars

'Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Part One)' was a surprisingly pretty ballad with a beautiful flugelhorn solo from the late Kenny Wheeler.  The melody seemed perfect for Peacock's unique vocals.

4.) Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Part Two) (instrumental)  (Bill Bruford) -  4:25    rating: *** stars

And with 'Part Two' the focus shifted from Peacock's voice into aggressive rock territory showcasing Berlin's hyperactive bass and Holdsworth guitar.

5.) Sample and Hold (instrumental)  (Bill Bruford - Dave Stewart) -  5:12     rating: *** stars

Well, 'Sample and Hold' moved Bruford a little closer to the spotlight, though the rest of the group continued to occupy most of the "high ground."  Still, this could be a slice of jazz-rock for people like me who don't really like jazz-rock.  

 

(side 2)

1.) Feels Good to Me (instrumental)  (Bill Bruford) -  3:49  rating: **** stars

Every now and then I'll meet a person with a hopelessly upbeat persona.  I may not be a massive fan of their outlook on life (particularly if it's early in the morning), but I recognize their outlook.  Similarly, Every now and then I'll hear a piece of music that just has an upbeat, toasty feel.  That's the case with the instrumental title track.  Bouncy melody that sounds like Bruford and company had been listening to some Gary Brooker and Procol Harum.  

 

Polydor even released the track as a UK single - the only Bruford solo single I know of:

 

- 1978's 'Feels Good To Me' b/w 'Beelzebub' (Polydor catalog number 2001 759)

 

YouTube has a clip of the band performing the tune on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test.  National Health's Neil Murray replaced Jeff Berlin on bass for the performance:  Bruford - Feels Good To Me / Back To The Beginning - Live BBC TV Old Grey Whistle Test 1978 - YouTube

 

 

 

2.) Either End of August (instrumental)   (Bill Bruford) -  5:27  rating: **** stars

'Either End of August' was another pretty instrumental highlighting Wheeler's flugelhorn and Stewart's synthesizers.  When the two join forces the song leaps to an entirely new level.  It  would fit nicely into a film soundtrack.

3.) If You Can't Stand the Heat ... (instrumental)   (Bill Bruford - Dave Stewart) -  3:20    rating: *** stars

The skitterish instrumental ' If You Can't Stand the Heat' gave each band member a shot at the spotlight and as good as each solo section was, bassist Berlin stole the show.

4.) Springtime in Siberia (instrumental)   (Bill Bruford - Dave Stewart) -  2:43   rating: ** stars

Opening up with Wheeler flugelhorn, 'Springtime in Siberia' was an instrumental that would not have sounded out of place on one of today's adult contemporary jazz stations.  Not saying that's good, or bad.  Pretty, but also somewhat anonymous.  Probably the one song that didn't strike a chord with me.

5.) Adios a la pasada (Goodbye to the Past)   (Bill Bruford - Annette Peacock) - 7:55   rating: **** stars

It took a while to get through the discordant opening section complete with Stewart's burbling synthesizer washes and Berlin's machine-gun speed burping bass.  And when the band got it together the song seemed to head down a rollicking, but anonymous  jazz-rock corridor.   Right before the three minute mark the track hit Peacock's faux Southern belle spoken word introduction.  And when she actually started to sing, well this may well be the album's standout and most inspiration track.   "What it is, is what it is , forgive yourselves..."  And here's another live performance from the Rock Goes To College concert: Bruford - Adios A La Pasada [Goodbye to the Past] (Rock Goes To College, March 17th, 1979) - YouTube

 


 

 

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