I’d like to thank all our friends and visitors for your support through 2017 and for dropping by and having a look around on Facebook or here on my new site. Looks like 2018 is shaping up to be a big one, what with many of the bands and musicians I’ve worked with having a reflective moment as they reach their 50 years in the trade. Anyone who has survived the half-century of momentous change from the old analogue world to the shiny new age of digital reproduction is to be congratulated. Two versions of Yes and one King Crimson will be out on the road in 2018, doubtless with attendant celebrations.
I’ll be lecturing around and about speaking on the topic of my book ‘Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer’. Now that it’s off my desk and in imminent danger of being published, my New Year’s Resolution has to be to post updates more frequently here in VIEWS. Being incurably sentimental, I like to do anything and everything of importance on the first day of the New Year. The date feels charged, full of promise, a good omen, auguring well for the future. I resolved to become a musician fifty years ago on 01.01.1968. By January 17th I was up and stumbling, charging in to my first round of mistakes at Il Rondo Ballroom, in Leicester, UK, with the Savoy Brown Blues Band. I only lasted three nights, but that’s another story.
Best Boxed set lists: 2017 ended on a high with Rolling Stone and All About Jazz (see below) giving the box best prog album of the year credentials. My thanks indeed to all who worked on that – the principals including recording engineer Jakko Jakszyk , archivist Sid Smith, designer Martin Cook, mastering engineer Ben Darlow and co-ordinator Rob Ayling. I’m personally thrilled with the way it turned out. The second tranche of boxes ships through January.
Things to look forward to in 2018: lectures in Norway and Sweden, book publication, cover interview of Drumhead magazine upcoming, podcast for Jazziz magazine, more talks in north-eastern USA. And that’s all before the old British sun comes out in about May.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ: JOHN KELMAN
Less overlooked than 1970-1972 Crimson, future Crim drummer Bill Bruford was part of one of the group’s most widely regarded lineups from 1972-1974, following the breakup of the band documented on Sailors’ Tales 1970-1972. But when Fripp pulled the plug unexpectedly on Crimson in the fall of 1974, the former Yes drummer found himself without a job. A variety of collaborations led, almost inescapably, to the formation of his first band, aptly called Bruford. Featuring a group of virtuosic but rarely excessive and never superfluous musicians—keyboardist Dave Stewart (Hatfield and the North, National Health), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Tony Williams New Lifetime, Gong) and bassist Jeff Berlin (Gil Evans, Esther Phillips)—Bruford recorded two still-seminal studio recordings, 1978’s Feels Good to Me and 1979’s One of a Kind, before Holdsworth departed, to be replaced by protége John Clark, given the title of “the ‘Unknown’ John Clark” by the characteristically dry-witted drummer.
Clark may not have been as groundbreaking a guitarist as Holdsworth (who would go on to lead a creatively untouchable solo career soon after), but he was still a fine player—one=whose whose contributions are made far clearer on this six-CD, two-DVD-V box set which includes current Crimson guitarist/vocalist Jakko M. Jakszyk‘s new stereo and surround mixes of Feels Good to Me and One of a Kind, along with remasters of the live The Bruford Tapes (1979) and studio swan song, Gradually Going Tornado (1980). But it’s the two previously unreleased CDs that are this box set’s revelation. Live at the Venue, recorded almost a year after The Bruford Tapes (which captured the Clark lineup in its relative nascency), is the bigger find, spotlighting a band that, with considerable touring under its belt, had evolved into a more confident, unified and compelling working group. 4th Album Rehearsal Sessions, culled from on-the-rehearsal-room-floor tape recordings, suggests where the group might have gone had it been more financially viable and, thus, able to continue.
Falling under some criticism for its lack of high resolution remixes, Seems Like a Lifetime Ago still represents this relatively diminutive discography at its absolute finest and definitive, the band’s history documented with particularly strength in Crimson scribe Sid Smith’s as-ever detailed and informative liners. Another essential set.