George Starostin's Reviews



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Pierre Biasino <> (09.07.2006)

I have just been falling over your Jack Bruce comments on the various albums. since I do not call myself an expert on music as such, i just wanted to say, that i found it weird that you slash of the albums and grind them to dust to come back on your comments and then trash everything again. After doing that I went back to simply look at the rating you have given and they all have very good ratings. Something else is just being trampled on by yourself, but you still give it an 8 out of 10 which seems weird to me. I do just like the experimental stuff and yes, ships in the night is made for MTV, but every musician however not commercial likes some commercial success and needs to be able to live of their music. What I like is that Jack still dares to be cheesy at times. As he says himself, he is interested in all kinds of music, so why shouldn't he try that one? I wouldn't even mind if he comes up with some really silly just to show the world that he doesn't care. I know he is not a pianist but I still like what he is trying to achieve. I do like a lot of the Monkjack album and yes Shadow in the Air has done it for me, even though it feels a bit borrowed and rebuild from Kip. More Jack than God proceeds along those lines and after having listened to it a bit more now I find it another outstanding piece of work with the same thoughts regarding Kip, but never the less. I think he is now finding the music that fits his voice as it is now. Hope je will get to make some catchy numbers as well and not stay in the darkness with his music and vocals. 'send for me' was lovely :-)


Randy Doak <> (01.04.2002)

Songs For a Tailor is the most perfectly realized album that any of the former members of Cream ever made. On this project, Bruce jettisoned the power trio format for a more standard British Rock sound that echoes groups like Traffic and Procul Harem. If you liked the direction Cream was taking in songs like "As You Said" and "Deserted Cities of the Heart" I think you will enjoy this disk. The strength of this album lies in Bruce's extraordinary song-craft and musicianship. His singing never sounded better, and believe me, the vocals cover nearly the entire recording. He had a knack for writing a killer bridge that would boost the song up a notch. Just listen to "Weird of Hermiston", "He the Richmond", "Theme for an Imaginary Western or "The Clearout" to see what I mean. The arrangements are concise and interesting thoughout. The instrumental sections serve the song; a good thing for a pop album. Besides Bruce on keyboards, acoustic guitar, bass and vocals, the only backup musicians are Chris Spedding on guitar, John Hiseman or John Marshall on drums and the horn section from Colliseum on several tracks. There's not a single blues-rock blowout guitar solo to be found.

Songs starts with a one-two punch that should have assured a hit single. "Never Tell your Mother She's out of Tune" is a breezy hard-rocking r'n'b number that never over-stays its welcome. The following tune, "Theme from an Imaginary Western", is a high water mark for Bruce as a vocalist and songwriter. The next three songs "Tickets to Waterfalls", "Weird of Hermiston" and "Rope Ladder to the Moon" showcase Bruce's ability to write varied, interesting melodies over better-than-average chord progressions.The following number, "The Ministry of Bag" is a very run of the mill blues rock workout with a lame lyric. This is the only filler tune on the album, which gets back on its feet with "He the Richmond", an inspired piece of folk-rock with a spine-chilling bridge and colorful, slightly surrealistic lyrics. Clocking in at just over a minute, "Boston Ball Game" is my favorite cut. It's got a very hard driving afro-cuban 6/8 time feel and wailing melody/counter melodies, both sung by Jack himself. The excellent horn section is icing on the cake. ...and the whole thing is over just when it seems like it's getting into gear. Very refreshing. In "To Isengard" Bruce starts out in a dreamy folk vein with a falsetto vocal that brings Neil Young to mind. Nice melody and tasty guitar embellishments by Spedding. Then, after the second verse is finished, it kicks into a very quirky 6/8 section section with a powerful vocal and spaced out jam section with Spedding playing atonal wah-wah guitar, and Bruce and Hiseman just playing variations on the basic pattern. It took me a few listenings to warm up to this one. Apparently the lyrics have something to do with The Lord of the Rings. "The Clearout" is an attractive heavy blues-rock tune with a bridge that gives more than a passing nod to The Who. I should mention that the lyrics by Pete Brown are not everyone's cup of tea. I find them quite enjoyable and evocative, if at times a little too colorful. Bruce followed up Songs for a Tailor with another terrific album entitled Harmony Row, featuring the same players and another great batch of songs. On Harmony Row, Bruce came into his own as a piano player. Harmony Row has never been released on cd.


Tagbo Munonyedi <> (07.02.2006)

I think that jazz - fusion is a fantastic form of music and I'd recommend anyone into prog to check it out if they haven't already.The stuff that came forth between '68 and '76 was truly breathtaking and alot of it ROCKED HARD !! And contrary to the myth, it was not a Miles Davis inspired movement although he did make great & influential music and out of his bands circa '69 - '71 came a plethora of players that would form their own or play in great fusion groups [ Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Bennie Maupin, John McLaughlin, Ron Carter, Dave Holland etc ] . The mixture of jazz and rock had a long and convoluted history going back to the early 60s and a much forgotten point is this - much of this development took place in England. It is worth remembering that a significant number of early - ish British rockers were in fact jazzers [ Ginger Baker, Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, John Hiseman, Dick Heckstall - Smith, Graham Bond and others ] while others became jazzers in one form or another [ John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Aynsley Dunbar]. Conversely, in the US of A, many young jazzers [ Tony Williams, Larry Coryell, Gary Burton, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, ] were growing up loving and being influenced by rock [and especially British rock ]. The meeting of all these minds was bound to happen and it did.....bands like the 4th way, Lifetime, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, Dreams, Weather Report were the outcome, not to mention hugely influential albums by some of these guys on their own { Miroslav Vitous, John Mc Laughlin, Billy Cobham, Frank Zappa } . A quick note - Jimi Hendrix was about to get into what was then nascent jazz rock fusion just before he died; he was about to record with Miles Davis. And very significant is a comment by either Jack Bruce or Ginger Baker ( I can't recall which ) about the kind of group Cream were - " we were a jazz band - we just didn't tell Eric ! " The rock / blues flavoured jazz improvisations from the Graham Bond Organisation were carried over into Cream, and certainly live, they were an electric jazz band.

Given that this album was recorded in the summer of '68, at a pivotal moment in the evolution of fusion, featuring one of it's primary future architechts [ McLaughlin ], a man who directly or indirectly [ depending, I guess, on how you happen to view Cream ] shaped the genre without being aware of it [ Bruce ] and 2 of the more creatively inventive jazz rockers to grace the future scene { Hiseman & Heckstall - Smith } then I am flabbergasted that 4 such great musicians could create such a turkey !! I was going through a serious fusion phase about 16 years ago and I was snapping up albums left, right and centre and when I heard that Bruce had played in Lifetime with Tony Williams & John McLaughlin [ Bruce thought it was the ultimate band ] I thought I'd check his solo output too. I loved his Cream work but this was such a dissapointment, even more so when I read in George's review when it was actually recorded. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!! Sorry. I don't want to put anyone off the album so by all means give it a listen. I mean, I like free and avant garde jazz, I like mood pieces and I'm very much at home with abstract tone poems. I have no problem with improvisations or compositions that go on for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. I love the double bass and the those rare players like Heckstall - Smith or Rahssan Roland Kirk or Barbara Thompson who could play 2 reed instruments at the same time. I love the way McLaughlin approached both acoustic and electric guitar and call me a fool if you will but I think that his overall influence in the history of electric guitar will be shown to have been more far reaching than Hendrix [ although he was influenced by Hendrix ] because he helped kick start a revolution in jazz guitar [ particularly in tone ]. For me, however, there are no redeeming features here - and I did give it 2 - 3 years to make a dent in my consciouness because I am all too aware that some works can grow on me over a long period. No matter how many times I played " Things we like " it never became a thing I liked. Fortunately, I went on to discover Colosseum [and Colosseum 2 ], bags of McLaughlin delights [ ' Extrapolation ', Shakti, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis ], more of Cream's live stuff and Hiseman playing in his wife, Barbara Thompson's band, Paraphenalia so I know that in the jazz - rock / pop and jazz vein, these guys were part of some beautifully melodic, inventive, subtle, sensitive, rocking music. I don't know what happened here.


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Ed Ferguson <> (08.12.2005)

First of all I enjoy this album (CD). The track 'SURGE' is something I don't really find myself going to. It almost sounds like it was put there to showcase the VERY talented drummers. My favorite songs on this album are '52nd ST'. and 'Heart Quake'. Jacks vocals are no doubt the highlight of this album.

The man can sing like no other.

The one thing I could do without on this album would be Vernon Reids guitar playing.

Every solo is like 'The Flight of the Bubble Bee'. If you've ever heard Jack Bruce with his current band play live you would know what I'm talking about.

He is very predictable and boring. I was kind of bummed out when I found out that Vernon was in the band. Of all the good guitar players that need a good job.

For someone hearing this album for the first time will most likely go away NOT being hooked on it. You have to let it grow on you. But I feel for the most part this is a good piece of work.

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