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Spirit - Live at the BBC 1971-1978

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Album Review

This three-disc set compiles two previously released Jack Bruce concerts with sessions that haven't been heard before, at least not officially. It should be noted that these are not his complete BBC sessions; ardent fans will more than likely quibble and argue about what is not here, though they will more than likely agree on what is. A contribution to the latter argument is the exclusion of the killer Sounds of the 70s session with guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer John Marshall, who played on Bruce's Harmony Row album. Protest duly noted. Tracks one through nine on disc one feature most of the BBC in Concert set from 1971 with Spedding, organist Graham Bond, and Marshall. This version contains a superior stereo mix and does not sound like the often bootlegged and hissy mono tape that was issued previously on Windsong. The other three cuts — all excellent — come from an incomplete Jazz in Britain session with saxophonist John Surman and Jon Hiseman on drums. Disc two is a reissue of the bassist's performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975, with Carla Bley, Mick Taylor, Ronnie Leahy, and Bruce Gary. This is in mono since the show was broadcast that way, but the sound is exemplary. A bonus is that it restores the entirety of the original broadcast, and contains "Without a Word," which was left off the Strange Fruit release. There's a schizophrenic aspect to the last two cuts on disc two — and the final cut on three — in that they comprise an entire Jazz in Britain session by Surman, Bruce, and Hiseman, seven years after the aforementioned 1971 date on the program (hence the "1978" in this set's title). The rest of disc three is devoted to the 1977 In Concert Live at the Paris Theater with drummer Simon Phillips, guitarist Hugh Burns, and keyboardist Tony Hymas. The band was supporting Bruce's How's Tricks? album. The sound is fantastic, perhaps because it was originally mixed in quad then remastered for stereo. Burns is no Spedding or Taylor, but the bassist and drummer lock on, and their interplay is incendiary. Whether or not this is Bruce at his very best is — and always will be — debatable among fans. That said, when culled, what this collection reveals is how awe-inspiring his playing and leadership could be; it's a quality that makes this collection well worth the investment.


Born: 14 May 1943 in Lanarkshire, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although some may be tempted to call multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer Jack Bruce a rock & roll musician, blues and jazz were what this innovative musician really loved. As a result, those two genres were at the base of most of the recorded output from a career that went 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 remained a supreme innovator, pushing...
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Spirit - Live at the BBC 1971-1978, Jack Bruce
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