(All Album Reviews by Vinylroolz)
When King Crimson dissolved in 1974, percussionist-god Bill Bruford was left musically unfulfilled. Feeling that Crimson had not reached its potential, he wanted to explore other avenues. He toured with the likes of Gong, Roy Harper, National Health and Genesis. Then came the ill-fated "super-group" with Rick Wakeman and John Wetton. It became apparent to Bill that he needed to concentrate on his song writing and form his own band.
So Bill sat down at his piano, wrote some music, resurrected a couple of pieces from the Wakeman/Wetton thing, gathered some friends and acquaintances and formed the band "Bruford". (I guess "The Bill Bruford Band" sounded a bit pretentious.) And what friends!! Dave Stewart on keyboards, Allan Holdsworth on guitar and Jeff Berlin on bass formed the core of the band, with Annette Peacock on vocals and Kenny Wheeler on fluglehorn. Bruford writes seven of the tracks, the other three are co-written with Stewart.
From the first few seconds of the album opener "Beelzebub", one knows that we're in for something special. The album runs the gamut of musical emotion, from the frenetic drums and vibes of the opening track or "If You Can't Stand the Heat...", to the straight jazz stylings of "Either End of August" with its blend of acoustic bass and fluglehorn over acoustic piano.
In between are tasty nuggets of prog and fusion, spiced by Holdsworth's alternating fiery or bluesy solos and Berlin's amazing bass work. Peacock's limited vocal contributions (2 tracks) are excellent and perfectly in context. Stewart's keyboards hold everything together.
Overall, the only criticism is that perhaps Bill tries to cover too much ground. I'd say the music is more jazz or fusion than prog, but there are enough time changes and instrumental pyrotechnics mixed in that most progsters would enjoy it. Bruford shows his compositional skills to great effect here, and it's surprising what a fine composer he is. I just thought he was a great drummer!
Any fan of Bill Bruford, Dave Stewart or Allan Holdsworth should have a copy of this album. Without a doubt, this is one of 1977's best releases.