According to music historian and author David Hepworth, 1971 is “rock’s most exciting year”. There are a lot of music fans of a certain age who would agree with that: those keen record buyers who still treasure well worn copies of Uriah Heep’s ‘Salisbury’, Caravan’s ‘In The Land of Grey & Pink’, Hawkwind’s ‘In Search of Space’ and Rory Gallagher’s ‘Deuce’; people who’d hit their early twenties in time to hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s ‘Tarkus’ with fresh ears when the sounds of those hugely indulgent arrangements sounded like the future; and certainly not forgetting those for whom the first three Black Sabbath albums heralded the arrival of a whole new genre, but arguably hit perfection in ’71. There’s a lot of further weight to be added to the argument that 1971 is musically significant, with lesser known albums by Samurai and Jade Warrior propping up the art-rock scene, The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone delivering an absolutely killer solo debut with ‘One Year’ and Phil Collins making his first major appearance with Genesis. All of that barely scratches the surface, of course, but it’s fair to say there was always far more to 1971 than Led Zeppelin’s monolithic fourth platter and ‘Who’s Next’.
There is some great news for Cream fans early next year. February 2020 will see the release of ‘Goodbye Tour’, a four disc live anthology bringing together recordings from the legendary trio’s final live dates. The set will include nineteen tracks previously unavailable on CD, including nine from The Royal Albert Hall, previously only available on DVD.
Jack Bruce is best known to most people as having been the bassist and vocalist with Cream, the sixties supergroup that imploded after just two and a half years. His solo works are often just as rewarding in listening terms and throughout the decade following Cream’s demise, Bruce released a string of albums that not only helped cement his legendary status, but also show how much broader his talents could be beyond the power trio format. 1969’s ‘Songs For A Tailor’ is a fantastic mix of rock, blues and jazz that belongs in any collection; 1970’s ‘Things We Like’ more than demonstrates Bruce’s affinity with harder jazz influences and 1977’s much overlooked ‘How’s Tricks’ offers a fine collection of rock-oriented songs teaming Jack with drummer Simon Phillips and keyboard player Tony Hymas – both important fixtures in Jeff Beck’s band during the following decade.
Best known to most as one third of blues/psych trio Cream, Jack Bruce was one of the world’s finest bassists. In little over eighteen months as a member of that band, his profile was elevated to world-famous status, as he pitted his huge bass sound against Eric Clapton’s fuzzy guitars and Ginger Baker’s powerhouse drumming. Those few months in the spotlight alone would be enough to ensure he would be influential to millions and forever remembered, but the work of John Symon Asher Bruce left a bigger mark on the world over a career that spanned six decades.