Monday, October 21, 2013

Jack Bruce: Songs For A Tailor and Things We Like

While Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker ran off to form Blind Faith, Jack Bruce got down to work on his own, recording with a jazzy horn section, as well as utilizing Cream lyricist Peter Brown and producer Felix Pappalardi. As a multi-instrumentalist, he could have easily recorded a one-man band album. Instead, Songs For A Tailor presented a grab bag of songs with a rotating supporting cast, including a young Chris Spedding, nodding to his earlier work with the jazz-influenced R&B band the Graham Bond Organisation.

Beatle fans would be curious to hear “Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out Of Tune”, as it credits George Harrison (under a pseudonym) with guitar; good luck hearing it. Mostly it’s an upbeat soul song without much depth, and horns bringing to mind a high school pep rally. Much better is “Theme For An Imaginary Western”, later made famous in Mountain’s heavier version, but still sounding just as grand. “Tickets To Waterfalls” is driven by an elaborate piano and organ arrangement, but the “poetic” lyrics, matched by his typically over-reaching voice, make it tough to really enjoy. A little better again is “Weird Of Hermiston”, first tried for Disraeli Gears but making its debut here. “Rope Ladder To The Moon”, with its percussive acoustic guitar and cellos, brings to mind “As You Said” somewhat.

Side two starts much the same as side one, with “The Ministry Of Bag” offering boogie and not much else. “He The Richmond” extends the 12-bar blues format with a little more strumming. “Boston Ball Game 1967” is just plain odd, with two sets of dueling lyrics sung virtually simultaneously over increasingly atonal horns. Luckily it’s short, making the Tolkien homage “To Isengard” all the more welcome—at least until the song switches to freakout mode. “The Clearout” was another discarded Cream idea, and is much too busy for its own good.

One wants to like this album, but maybe Jack’s ideas weren’t going to have as much mass appeal as Cream’s other singer. The album does have its defenders, who would likely enjoy the alternate mixes and one demo added to the remastered CD. But if you’re looking for a companion to Blind Faith, Songs For A Tailor ain’t it.

Still, it’s more accessible than the first solo album he’d recorded, back in 1968 in the last days of Cream but not released for another two years. Things We Like was a free jazz session, with Jack playing the double bass against Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax and Jon Hiseman on drums, both veterans of Graham Bond and John Mayall, and just starting out with Colosseum. John McLaughlin played on a few tracks as well, apparently so he could make enough in session fees to join Tony Williams in Lifetime; he makes a difference when he’s present. With the exception of Mel Tormé’s “Born To Be Blue”, this pet project sounds even more thousands of miles away from Cream, and is recommended only for jazz connoisseurs.

Jack Bruce Songs For A Tailor (1969)—
2003 remaster: same as 1969, plus 4 extra tracks
Jack Bruce Things We Like (1971)—2
2003 remaster: same as 1971, plus 1 extra track


  1. Beneath the seemingly inane lyric of "Never Tell Your Mother........." is a barely concealed but vicious dig at McCartney

  2. One must be extremely well versed in their Beatle lore to understand but......the "mother" in the song is paul. Just as McGear was freighted with a couple of songs that were serious digs at Harrison, George reached out to Jack Bruce, and Ashton, Gardner, & Dyke to express his displeasure