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Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The authorised biography Paperback – March 1, 2010
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About the Author
Harry Shapiro is an author, journalist and lecturer who has written widely on the subjects of drugs, popular music and film. He is the author of Waiting For The Man: The Story Of Drugs And Popular Music, Shooting Stars: Drugs, Hollywood And The Movies, Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy and biographies of Graham Bond and Alexis Korner.
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Top customer reviews
This book sets the bar very high for anyone else who might want to write about Jack Bruce and his music/personal life. This book covers areas such as Bruce's innovative use of the bass guitar,a composer (40 years and counting) of both vocal and instrumental pieces of music in several areas (rock,jazz,classical etc.) for his own distinctive voice and others,many of which will stand the test of time,an (relatively unknown) accomplished classical player (cello,piano) of some depth,and a man with many of the problems that his chosen life,and life in general,exposed him to.
The author has interviewed Jack Bruce,starting in 1978 (for a Graham Bond piece) and,for this book,has interviewed many people,including Bruce's family,friends,and fellow musicians,which brings Bruce's life in to clear perspective. Starting with Bruce's birth and upbringing,and on through his early years,the first couple of chapters looks at how his upbringing gave foundation to the man who came to be known as quick-tempered,and sometimes a bit sour. At an early age Bruce learned to look after himself and become fairly self-sufficient-traits that he would display all through his life. As a teen he discovered music,something which he found he was gifted at,and attended various music schools,sometimes only long enough to learn what he thought was pertinent.
The book continues with Bruce's formative gigs playing with various musicians and styles of music. At an early age (late teens) he learned to fend for himself while on the road with other musicians,many of them older than he. That,together with his broadening life experiences,and his upbringing,made Jack Bruce into the man and musician the public came to know. Of course much is written about his early years in London,with Graham Bond,Manfred Mann and other groups,and his meeting up and forming a group called CREAM,with Clapton and Baker. An interesting thing is that Bruce was invited to join CROSBY,STILLS,and NASH-but only as a bass player,not as another vocalist also. It was during this time that Bruce recorded his jazz/rock album, "Things We Like",which to this day is still a great sounding recording,and "Songs For A Tailor",probably his best known album,by critical standards and popularity.
Bruce's tenure with Tony Williams' LIFETIME band is looked at in depth,which is important because of the (for the times) innovative music the group played. The personalities of the group come into focus and how the members of the group affected Bruce's life and his playing. Bruce's many solo releases are also given their due,as are the different players used on each album. Many people have varying feelings about this period of Bruce's career,and like/dislike this period of album releases fervently-and it's all discussed here. The period with WEST,BRUCE,and LAING,and how that group came into being is very informative-how Felix Pappalardi was sick from heroin,and quit the group MOUNTAIN,with drummer Laing and guitarist Leslie West wanting to carry on with Paul Rodgers (of FREE) and bassist Overend Watts (MOTT THE HOOPLE),in a new configuration of their group,but wound up using Jack Bruce instead.
This book pulls no punches with Bruce's drug usage. It goes into some detail about Bruce's usage and it's affects on both him and his music. Bruce's admission that something was missing from his life,and he found it through heroin is both riveting and harrowing when he talks about this period of his life. Likewise Bruce's dealings with the record business and how he was shafted by mangers and the industry itself is brought into sharp focus,and how this affected him personally. The remainder of the book goes into his life,and his solo albums and bands,starting in the 80's,his liver transplant (due to a condition known as "anaethesia awareness",he was awake for the operation),and up through his reunion with Clapton and Baker in the CREAM concerts in 2005.
For Jack Bruce fans,or anyone wishing to read an accurate,in-depth look at a true musician's musician-this is the book to read. Not only is it about Jack Bruce,but it's also about an era-the musicians,the music,the times themselves-that will never be repeated. This book can sit on the shelf alongside other biographies of musicians (Thelonius Monk for example)whose life and music were bound together for better or worse.