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Why Dontcha

West, Bruce & Laing

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Album Review

Three years after Blind Faith, and two years after the zoo that was Ginger Baker's Air Force — Denny Laine essentially replacing Eric Clapton in Blind Faith with six more musicians added for good measure — Jack Bruce mixes the blues of Cream with the hard rock of Mountain while the label gave them maybe a third of the Blind Faith hype. The verdict? West, Bruce & Laing's Why Dontcha has aged gracefully as an authentic signature of what these artists were doing, but it lacks the staying power of Blind Faith, the fault being the choice of material. There is no "Theme from an Imaginary Western" here, there is no "Sea of Joy," just a relentless hard rock assault best exemplified by the track "Shake Ma Thing (Rollin Jack)." Here Leslie West and Jack Bruce share vocals, so you get Mountain-meets-Cream, but where they played "Sunshine of Your Love" in concert, there is no riff that awesome here. And that's all it would have taken, a great riff and tune to carry this project from point A to point B. "While You Sleep" shows this wild bunch as creative and having fun, and it's a great album track, but not the thing to find them a new audience. The title tune, "Why Dontcha," is pure Leslie West, but it doesn't reinvent Mississippi Queen, and these gentlemen had to pull a rabbit or two out of their hats. If anyone doubts Jimmy Miller's ability to make a record album rock, just listen to his protégé Andy Johns fail to follow in his mentor's footsteps. Miller had three days to put Blind Faith together after months of Steve Winwood and Clapton trying not to step on each other's toes, and he came back for part two, the Royal Albert Hall concert that became Ginger Baker's Air Force. Why Dontcha, on the other hand, despite the pluses, falls short because it tries too hard, while not putting the effort where it belonged — in the songwriting and production. Bet these great talents wish they had this moment in time back. If these were ex-Grand Funk Railroad members Flint, this would be a great record. It falls far short of what Jack Bruce, Corky Laing, and Leslie West were capable of.

In an interview with Corky Laing, that legendary quote from Flo & Eddie was brought to his attention — their opinion that Mountain keyboard player Steve Knight was "the most useless man in rock & roll." Laing quickly came to Knight's defense and said that he played rhythms that were essential to Mountain. A Steve Knight on keyboards, or even better, a Steve Winwood, was what was needed to bring West, Bruce & Laing to another level, maybe even to superstar status. Cream's vocalist brought that hit potential to the table. The sleeper track on the album is "Love Is Worth the Blues," with Leslie West on violin, guitar, and a suitably painful downtrodden vocal, while "Pollution Woman" is, finally, what everyone was waiting for: Cream-meet- Mountain, with Jack Bruce on synthesizer and vocals, Leslie West and Jack Bruce on acoustic guitars, and a brilliantly solid Corky Laing. This was the direction they should have taken, and there just isn't enough of it — a wildly charging modern sound that elevates the whole, proving it could be greater than the sum of its parts.

Customer Reviews

a few notes

A few notes: Yes, WB&L did one live album/CD -- LIVE 'N' KICKIN', which contains the "original" version of "Love Is Worth the Blues" -- an extended cover of The Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire". On this studio album they simply took their arrangement of "Play With Fire" and added new lyrics. There is also a second studio CD -- WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON -- which has some good material but lacks the power of WHY DONTCHA; from what I remember it was recorded piecemeal, with Leslie or Jack coming into the studio laying down a track, Corky coming in later and adding drums, then Jack or Leslie going back and adding other tracks, repeating the process, so they rarely worked together and missed the "live" feel of much of WHY DONTCHA. And Leslie does not play "violin" on WHY DONTCHA -- he plays what he calls "violin guitar", a technique in which he has the volume on his guitar off when he hits or hammers a note, then increases the volume as the note rings out, creating a violin-type sound. As to the Cream-meets-Mountain comments, I consider it closer to say that Mountain is almost a direct outgrowth of Cream through the infleunce of the genius of Felix Pappalardi. The true Cream studio "sound" did not appear until Felix took over as Cream's producer on DISRAELI GEARS. Felix not only produced but co-wrote songs, played various instruments, and provided back-up vocals for Cream in the studio. With the break-up of Cream, he carried that distintive sound and sensibility, first, into his work on Leslie West's first solo album, and then with that album's outgrowth, Mountain.

the coolest bass

this lp had a handful of good songs and some great moments,...Jacks bass playing is over the top throughout and amazingly tasteful to be so busy all the time.a skill few,few players have ever pulled off correctly (McCartney,..and ?) Leslie's vocals are strong, as are Jacks also.tasteful guitar,great drumming by Corky.Yep,wish they had kept going and improved.their second lp(name escapes me at the moment)was not as strong an effort.once again,Jacks tone and playing on this make it totaly worth having.too bad we dont have bass like that today. tracks 1,2,3,6 standout.

An under-rated album with incredible playing and energy

While not every song is a masterpiece on this album - the stand-outs are really exceptional. They include the two solid Jack Bruce tunes, Out Into the Fields and Pollution Woman, which are nothing short of terrific. And also the mostly Leslie West influenced, The Doctor and Love is Worth the Blues. Download those 4 and you've got some of the best popular music recorded that year. And I saw them live at Radio City and likes it. However, previous to that, they played Carnegie Hall and that show was even better. Less Spinal Tap-esque soloing and more playing together. By the time they hit Radio City, the wheels were starting to come off.

Biography

Formed: 1972

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '00s, '10s

Following the exits of bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi and keyboardist Steve Wright, remaining Mountain members Leslie West (guitar) and Corky Laing (drums) forged a new alliance with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce. The hard rock supergroup's debut LP, Why Dontcha, appeared in 1972, followed a year later by Whatever Turns You On. The Bruce, West and...
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Why Dontcha, West, Bruce & Laing
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