Saturday, October 25, 2014

RIP Jack Bruce

Well, this is a bummer, if not entirely unexpected—after all, it was his close call with death that led to the previously impossible to even imagine Cream reunion in 2005.

Jack Bruce's (very) relative lack of commercial success post-Cream has always been a mystery to me. In that band of ferocious talent and even more ferocious egos, he was the main driver, musically (if not personally—that'd have to go to the most overrated drummer in not just rock but all musical history, one Ginger Baker). Jack Bruce wrote far more songs than the other two, he sang most of them (although Eric Clapton sang more and more towards the end of the band's short life) and, of course, he was an amazing bassist.

So why did he achieve but a fraction of Clapton's success, given all that? Some of it is clearly that he followed his muse, and his muse wanted to go in some uncommercial directions, such as fusion and complex, almost prog-like hard rock. But even so, he released enough albums clearly designed to be palatable to a broad rock and roll market with only limited success. I'm going to assume, then—Paul McCartney and Sting aside—it's a matter of the primacy of the guitar in rock and roll.

I don't know. But when you've written and sung a song as grand as this, not to mention a good half dozen others, you've had an amazing career right there.

Also, because it's Clapton's guitar that gets all the attention on this particular track, check out the bassline and don't drop your jaw on the floor:

I think bars 65-66 are my favorite. (Seriously.)

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