BRUFORD: THE BRUFORD TAPES (1979)
1) Hell's Bells; 2) Sample And Hold; 3) Fainting In Coils; 4) Travels With Myself — And Someone Else; 5) Beelzebub; 6) The Sahara Of Snow (part 1); 7) The Sahara Of Snow (part 2); 8) One Of A Kind (part 2); 9) Five G.
Two studio albums into their career and these guys are already gunning for a live release — granted, a limited release, for some reason restricted to the American, Canadian, and Japanese markets, even though you'd think a band like Bruford could probably have fared somewhat better on the European market. Recorded on July 12, 1979, in a New York club, this performance marked the playing debut of John Clark, a student of Holdsworth who was recommended by Allan as his replacement once he'd finally had enough — and, honestly, I cannot easily tell the difference, though this is probably just due to my indifference to much of this material.
As you can see from the track list, they cover One Of A Kind almost in its entirety here, while the much better debut album only gets two songs (well, actually, ʽFainting In Coilsʼ incorporates a chunk from ʽBack To The Beginningʼ, so three, technically) — and while it is rather obvious that they could hardly count on Annette Peacock to tour with them, there seems to have never been any thought about carrying their «symph-prog» side over to the live circuit. Instead, all of this here is a strictly fusion affair, and, as you can guess, everything is smooth, professional, and mostly sounds the same as the studio originals, with a few extended jamming parts here and there and enthusiastic crowd noise (yes, those batty New Yorkers do love their fusion). If this makes you feel any better, the sound quality is quite excellent for a low-key club date recording, but then could you expect anything less from the former (and future) drummer of King Crimson?
The obvious bottomline is that if you do not enjoy One Of A Kind, you can hardly expect to be turned around by The Bruford Tapes; and if you do enjoy One Of A Kind, you have to be a true «fusion nutso» to want to appreciate the little additional nuances that the band brings to the tables of this little New York get-together. In both cases, this is most likely a thumbs down — despite the self-understandable skill and tightness of the musicians.