MWE3 Feature Story
conducted by Robert Silverstein for mwe3.com  


 

 

Continued From Home Page


Shadows In The Air...

an interview with JACK BRUCE


written and produced by
Robert Silverstein for mwe3.com

mwe3.com spoke with Cream blues-rock bass legend Jack Bruce on November 19, 2010 about a number of topics including his new double live CD, Jack Bruce And The Cuicoland Express Live At The Milky Way 2001 as well as the 2010 DVD release of Jack’s historic Rope Ladder To The Moon movie, directed by Tony Palmer. Admittedly—probably an unintentional slip up on my part—before the interview date mwe3.com did not get to hear the Live At The Milky Way double CD set so when, as the interview unwrapped, Jack asked if I did, I looked dumb and it became a self-effacing moment. Of course the CD showed up a few days later (Jack and I were always ahead of our time) and—in spite of the fact that my deficit inducing work load prohibited me from finishing the interview right away—it has ultimately dawned on me that this live document from 2001 is every bit as good as Jack has said. Originally recorded on special digital tapes that lay dormant for years, the release of Live At The Milky Way 2001 finally happened in 2010 when producer Kip Hanrahan completed the remix of the concert from that night at the famous Milky Way club in Amsterdam. The welcome release of the colorfully adorned and superbly mastered double CD set of this show finally give fans of Jack Bruce—multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer—the chance to experience this game changing concert imbued with a number of the best-loved Cream and Bruce classics, each tastefully reworked into a sizzling, energetic fusion of rock and Latin flavored jazz. Featuring Vernon Reid on guitar (Living Colour), Bernie Worrell on organ (Parliament / Funkadelic), Richie Flores on congas (Tito Puente / Cachao), Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez on drums (Roy Hargrove / Carlos Santana) and Robby Ameen (Dizzy Gillespie / Paul Simon) also on drums, Live At The Milky Way 2001—enhanced by sonic mastering from audio expert Greg Calbi— also offers a fascinating look back at music from Jack’s 2001 solo album Shadows In The Air. As fans will remember, several months later Jack fell ill and indeed we almost lost him to the ages, but we didn’t. A case of more God then Jack? I like to think so, yet since the historic October 2005 Cream reunion, Jack has remade his mark as a pioneering, now elder statesman of classic rock. From recent years, of course we have that great Cream reunion CD/DVD set from the ‘05 Albert Hall shows and, one can also cite Jack’s brilliant work with Robin Trower on the 2008 Seven Moons CD and subsequent live DVD and CD. Now, with the 2011 double CD release of Jack's classic October 20th, 2001 Cuicoland Express concert in Holland, we see yet another side of Jack—sonic genius and rock architect reexamining the essence of his art at a critical turning point in his career—then and now. Another now part of the tale included in this interview are even more recent pictures of Jack Bruce performing at the Blue Note in Manhattan between January 27-30, 2011, leading a band with acclaimed guitarist and Cuicoland Express comrade, Vernon Reid.


JB: Hello?

mwe3.com: Hey Jack!

JB: Is that Robert?

mwe3.com: Yeah, Robert Silverstein from mwe3.com in New York. How’re you doing man?

JB: (laughter) I’m good. How you doing Robert, nice to talk to you again.

mwe3.com: Great to speak to you again. Can’t believe it’s been two years since we spoke. Seems like the whole world went by huh?

JB: Two years?...it doesn’t seem possible. The time is going so fast these days, isn’t it? (laughter)

mwe3.com: I remember speaking to you about the Seven Moons album. How’s your family these days?

JB: My family’s all fine, thank you. All well (laughter) That’s the main thing isn’t it?

mwe3.com: You’re getting ready for the winter over there?

JB: Yeah, it’s been pretty cold already but we can always escape. We’ve got a good place to escape to in the Canary Islands, so we’re lucky. The climate’s nice all year round. You can swim and stuff, it’s good.

mwe3.com: You’re gonna stay the winter down there?

JB: Well, no we just go there when we can’t handle it anymore. (laughter) But I’m working so much that I won’t be able to get there very much this winter. So, there you go.

mwe3.com: So you’re not living in Scotland, you’re living in England?

JB: I’m in England you might say. (laughter)

mwe3.com: I get confused between the two places.

JB: Between Scotland and England? You wouldn’t be confused if you were here or there! (laughter)

mwe3.com: Scotland is part of England right?

JB: No it’s not. It’s another country. That’s like saying Canada is part of America. As a Scotsman, you get very insulted if people say that. But I’m one of those unfortunate people who considers themselves a citizen of the world. (laughter)

mwe3.com: You’ve always been....worldly.

JB: Well, I think it’s just I left my homeland when I was very young.

mwe3.com: You moved to Canada at one time and then you came back to Scotland.

JB: Yeah, but I was very young when that happened. But I still remember it.

mwe3.com: So have you spoken with Eric and Ginger recently?

JB: I’ve seen a little bit of contact with Ginger (coughs). Excuse me, I’ve been singing a lot, I’m very hoarse. I haven’t spoken to Eric recently, no.

mwe3.com: I think after the Cream reunion everybody was kind of hoping that something may happen, even a single or something. I wish Eric would kind of...own up to it a little bit. I know he’s so worldly popular now. He’s always been the most popular...all over the world.

JB: But he’s had to pay a terrible price for that. (laughter) He’s had to play some terrible music in my opinion. But that’s his choice. He always wanted to be very successful, and he’s achieved that. Good luck to him.

mwe3.com: I think it would be nice if he’d call you up...even make a Cream single every year, just like the old days.

JB: That band is finished now. That was a band of its time and we had a reunion. And that was kind of all right but that’s what you do and then you move on. I’m not really interested in the past.

mwe3.com: I always considered Cream, after the Beatles, to be the most innovative of all the rock bands.

JB: We had our time. And that time is gone. (laughter) And the memory lingers on kind of thing. But for all of us, it’s a bit of a double edge sword because we tried to do new things but people always remember Cream, which is fair enough, but individually, I think we want to move on. Not just live in the past. There you go...

mwe3.com: I did see on Eric’s web site, a big Cream page still, so there’s obviously a lot of interest in Cream.

JB: Right, oh yeah sure.

mwe3.com: How’s Robin Trower doing? Have you spoken with him recently?

JB: I haven’t spoken to Robin, either, no. I haven’t. I’d like to. I think I will call at some point but we tend to get together when we’re gonna do something you know? A lot of musicians are like that. You don’t tend to hang out. We don’t all live in the same...building. Some people (laughter) think we live in a kind of big block of flats or something. (laughter) I live my life and he lives his life. And when we work together, we’re together. And we’re very happy to do that. And maybe we’ll do another record. That would be great. I did enjoy doing the (Seven Moons) record. It was real fun to do. And the gigs were fun too. Really excellent.

mwe3.com: Were you happy with the Seven Moons Live CD and DVD?

JB: Yeah, it was pretty good I thought, yeah. I’m talking about the Cuicoland Express. Is that not what this is about? (laughter)

mwe3.com: Yeah! Tell me about that one because I was familiar with the Cuicoland band album you did, Shadows In The Air from the early 2000’s. So this new one, the live concert. How did the album come together now?

JB: That was in 2002, I think it was. We recorded when we played at the Milky Way. It got recorded. But it was recorded in a very strange way on DAT machines. So it took a long time to actually get it finished and mixed. I really always wanted to do that because it’s such a great concert. Really good energy. Really good band. It was a good example of that band. And so it’s taken me all that time to assemble it with the help of Kip Hanrahan who managed to get it finished. And now it’s gonna come out. So, I’m really pleased about that because there never was a Cuicoland Express record. There was just my own solo record you know? Two solo records with those guys, but this is actually a band record. So it’s good. The live thing.

mwe3.com: Those records with those guys, including the Shadows In The Air album was really different. It had a kind of Latin jazz vibe. Putting the Cream sound into that was pretty daring.

JB: Like a lot of musicians, I don’t tend to think in terms of labels. What I would say is, ‘I don’t play jazz, I play Jack.’ And I don’t think there’s really any Latin jazz on that. It’s just me playing with a bunch of guys. (laughter) Because whoever you play with, they bring their experience to the event and that’s what it is.

mwe3.com: So that CD is out now?

JB: It comes out, I think in February. That’s when it’s due to come out.

mwe3.com: Live At The Milky Way 2001.

JB: That’s the one. Have you not got that at all?

mwe3.com: I spoke to Peter and he said he’d sent it...

JB: Maybe it’d be better if you want to talk about it you should have a listen and then you’d know what we were talking about really.

mwe3.com: I have the PDF...

JB: But you’re not going to hear it, are you? You’re just reading something. That’s only words...

mwe3.com: Well I can ask a few more questions about something else then maybe call back about the Milky Way CD...

JB: That would be good. I mean, obviously you should hear it. Because, although you can read what’s on there, it’s the beauty of the actual playing that’s important, you know? Not just the fact that it’s me and them and the songs. It’s the way it’s done.

mwe3.com: I know Bernie Worrell plays on the Live At The Milky Way 2001 and you have a really long relationship with him going back quite a while, to the Monkjack album...

JB: Oh yeah. Well the first time he played with me was, on my record, was on that record called A Question Of Time. It’s also the first time I played with Vernon Reid.

mwe3.com: Vernon played on A Question Of Time too?

JB: He did indeed, and Bernie.

mwe3.com: Well, then I’ll wait to get the record for sure...

JB: If you get a chance, send me an email and we can have a talk about the actual record, ‘cause as I said, it’s not officially out until February. So we’ve got time. Anything else you want to talk about, we can talk about that. We can talk about the price of fish. (laughter)

mwe3.com: I was going to talk about politics with you. I was wondering what England thought about what’s going on in America now. People are just fighting here all the time so it’s a really stressful time to be an American.

JB: Well I did do a tour in America last summer so I was quite aware of some of those things. ‘Cause I went, more or less, all over. I was in Detroit...all over. You can see some of the problems. And as they always say, in politics, ‘When America sneezes, Britain catches cold.’

mwe3.com: That sounds about right. I thought America gave Britain a cold.

JB: I think originally, Britain, or England gave (laughter) America a cold. So we’ve got it back, from America I guess.

mwe3.com: No matter what Obama does, they just want to knock him down. There’s no...togetherness.

JB: Well, obviously it’s very easy to be disappointed with Obama because we all expected so much from him. But I think we tend to find in America, American politics, it’s quite often, the left wing politicians, achieve the most. The left wing ones. Like Clinton for instance, they tend to get bogged down with all the shit that gets slung at them. Someone like Lyndon Johnson, when it comes down to it, is probably a better president in many ways. He achieved quite a lot ‘cause he was able to. It’s a scary thought. But maybe when Sarah Palin’s president (laughter) it’ll be great. We can all enjoy her achievements. I’m only joking when I say that by the way. You know me well enough by now not to take anything I say seriously I hope. (laughter)

mwe3.com: From you I understand it but when I watch her on television, it’s just like a...it just won’t go away.

JB: She’s not about to go away. I do believe in the intrinsic common sense of the American public that they won’t allow...but then (laughter) then they had two terms of Bush, of W...so maybe I’m a bit optimistic. (laughter) We’ve got the same thing happening here. We’ve got a pretty strange government, what they call a coalition government. And basically what it is, is a government that declared war on the poor. And they give tremendous benefits to the very rich and very wealthy bankers, whereas the poorer people are going to have to pay seventy two percent tax. So this is a very dangerous time. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people. And the terrible thing is, that the rich people here knock the poor people. They just say, ‘you’ve never had it so good.’ It’s tragic what’s happening here.

mwe3.com: The main thing I really wanted to talk to you about today, if you don’t mind, is that great new DVD that just came out of the Tony Palmer Rope Ladder To The Moon DVD that Tony directed back in 1969 all about your music. It’s just totally an eye-opening work of genius in my estimation.

JB: Right, okay. We can talk about that.

mwe3.com: Number one, Songs For A Tailor was probably my favorite album of 1969...

JB: Right...with that DVD. I’m trying to finish it. The quality is better than it was, because it was very poor quality. So it will be coming out. I’m going to do some more work on it. We’ve done an interview, along with Pete Brown which will also be included on it, when it’s properly released. But I can’t give you a date for that. I did allow versions of it, that have kind of, emerged, but they’re not the finished version. Unfortunately, in this day and age, bootlegging is very difficult to control of those things, although you can get out anything on the internet and hope it gets released. A bootleg is quite shady sometimes. But it will come out. The proper one will come out I think.

mwe3.com: So are you saying the DVD I have now, which is excellent in my estimation, is not the real one?

JB: It’s not the real one.

mwe3.com: Geez...

JB: In fact, I think you’ll be able to return that one and get a proper one. That’s what I’m working on. So that when the proper one comes out, you can send that one in and get another one!

mwe3.com: I’ll have to mail it back to you and you can destroy it. But I was just blown away with the Rope Ladder movie that Tony made and your story is, at least from what this version of the DVD features, I was really impressed with it. Because on the back of this DVD of Rope Ladder To The Moon, it says the sound was actually remixed and that your daughter Kyla did the cover...

JB: Yeah, all of that is true. It’s just that, that was not the proper version. That was released by Tony Palmer without my consent. And at the moment, they’re remixing the music. Not the live stuff. The live stuff is fine. But there’s a lot of editing that goes on there which is very suspect. So I’m hoping to be able to repair that and then there’ll be a better version. It’s a bit of a fuck-up, but there you go. What isn’t these days? (laughter) I’m glad that you like it. If you like it, that’s good.

mwe3.com: I was pretty impressed also with the live footage on there, which you said was okay.

JB: Yeah. I think that’s the reason why I want that to come out, because it’s a long time ago and some of it is quite embarrassing to me, (laughter), but the reason I wanted it to come out was that it’s historically very interesting because it shows the Glasgow, as I grew up. It’s different now, Glasgow. It’s a little changed. They’ve moved all the slums out. (laughter) But I wanted that to be on record...the horrific wreckage where I grew up. And also, the live playing, I think is very good. So those are the two reasons why I wanted it to come out, despite the fact that I find a lot of it quite embarrassing. A bit of embarrassment is not necessarily a bad thing for somebody in my condition. (laughter) It’s about time I got well embarrassed. (laughter)

mwe3.com: It was such a long time ago, but I remember the day I bought the original Lp of Songs For A Tailor back in 1969 and so I can remember how much it shaped my musical...

JB: I’m really glad because I think it’s a pretty good little record yeah.

mwe3.com: In the Rope Ladder movie, I was amazed that Tony actually included footage of the actual bombing of Glasgow by the Germans in World War Two.

JB: I think he did that to show that during the second World War, a lot of Glasgow got bombed, but that it was still like that, and that was in 1969, as you said. 1969 and then in 1970 when that was made...and it was still like that. (laughter) So that was the point I wanted to make. That all of the time, when I grew up in Glasgow mostly, that was what we had...the degradation. And the fact that the London government of Britain didn’t give a shit about Glasgow, so it festered away like that. Now it’s a little better but there’s still a lot of problems in that city, you know, my city. So it’s an interesting thing that shouldn’t be forgotten in a historical sense because we tend to know, history is always written by the victors, isn’t it? And sometimes it’s good, when someone like myself is able to show a little bit of proper social history which, I think is interesting and important that people are aware of those things. When I first worked with Tony Williams, and I took him to Glasgow...Tony had this idea that white folks all lived in (laughter) kind of all lived in lovely surroundings and were well off. When I took him and showed him where I grew up, he couldn’t believe it because there was nowhere like that in America. Nowhere as bad as that. In New York or Boston, where he grew up. So I mean, I just think it’s an interesting little piece of history. And that’s why I agreed for it to come out really. That, and the really nice live playing which there is.

mwe3.com: You said you brought Tony Palmer there?

JB: Tony Williams. When I played with Tony Williams in the early ‘70s, I took him, because we played in Glasgow. So I took him and showed him those places where I grew up and he was really shocked. As a black man he felt that white people were pretty well off, rich or whatever. But then he realized that it’s not always as simple as that. And I think it was quite a learning experience for him.

mwe3.com: So you were born just at the height of the war. It’s amazing so many great English musicians were born during that 1940 to 1943 period back when adversity was really the order of the day.

JB: Yeah, well I was born in 1943 and 1943 was the turning point of the war in Britain. That was when things started to improve slightly. From 1939, when war was declared, up until 1943, I think it was all going the way of Germany, of Hitler you know? But by 1943, America had come into war, which was hugely (laughter) helpful. But more importantly, things were happening in the Soviet Union, which made it really difficult for Hitler to achieve his evil ends. So by the time I was born, there was a turning point in the war, although there was still a lot of terrible things that were going to happen in Britain. Flying bombs and all those terrible things that would happen later on. But there’s no good things you can say about a war...nothing good about it. Any war. There’s people suffering, even now, as they increase the amount of payloads that they’re using in Afghanistan for instance. People are suffering and dying. Even now.

mwe3.com: I still can’t believe what happened with Bush’s wars. Everything changed so quickly. I was always a huge Al Gore supporter. I really believe that the stolen election of 2000 was the worst moment in American history. How the Supreme court could just choose some guy to run the country when things were going so great. And then to see how my points were proven.

JB: Yeah, I mean I totally agree with you. I was actually working on the West Coast when the election happened. I was working with Andy Summers and we were in Venice, in California. In Santa Monica, we were in the studio. And we actually were recording that night. And we did some recording and they announced that Al Gore had won. (laughter) And we went back into the studio relieved and happy. And we did some more recording, ‘cause we were really happy and then when we went back (laughter) they said it wasn’t Al Gore who won...

mwe3.com: It was terrible. It was like the worst...

JB: At the worst moment you can imagine when they stole that election.

mwe3.com: It was the most tragic thing I’d experienced since the night John Lennon died. ‘Cause I was living a few blocks away from where that happened.

JB: Again, I was actually in the States. I can’t remember exactly what city I was in. I think it may have been Detroit or somewhere in the Midwest. And I was actually watching TV with my wife and Clem Clemson. We happened to be sitting down watching TV and they announced that John Lennon had been killed. And of course, we were totally shocked, because I’d been quite a friend of John in like 1974, in L.A. Apart from that, it’s just...it’s a tragedy. And then the next announcement they made was that Reagan had gone to fly and land in New York, which he did the same night. And somehow the two events became entwined. I couldn’t separate John Lennon’s death from Ronald Reagan’s first visit to New York as president. And to me, it almost seemed like they were saying, like John Lennon’s dead, here comes the future. And the future is Reagan. I find that very frightening. Of course you can get hung up in conspiracy theories...and so on. At the time, in the state of shock that I was in, it did seem to be connected.

mwe3.com: In your book Composing Himself, there’s a picture of you backstage at your concert at the Palladium in New York, the night after John’s assassination.

JB: I don’t think it was the night after he was killed. It was the same week. I remember that we didn’t really want to play the show. We were in a state of shock. I remember Clem Clemson and myself, the day after John was killed, we went on this talk show. I’ve got a feeling it was Boston, actually where we were. We went on this talk show and the guy said (mimics big mouth show host) ‘Oh! So how do you feel now that John Lennon’s been killed?’ We just both got up without saying anything and left from this live TV show. We weren’t sure if we wanted to play, like...that concert but then I thought, ‘well, why not?’ People were wandering around in New York in a sort of a daze. And in fact, it was a great concert and the people were very moved. It was a sellout concert. People just wanted to go somewhere and be together, you know? So, I was glad I did it in the end.

mwe3.com: I was living on 66th street at the time. I was always working around there but I never wanted to bother him. I never dreamed about bothering him.

JB: It’s the same with a lot of people in New York...up until that point, everybody thought you could walk around in New York. It’s the one city in the world probably, that you can just walk around and people will leave you alone. I remember seeing all sorts of people in New York walking...James Stewart. I remember seeing him walking down Madison Avenue once. And you would never go up to him. He just sort of smiled and walked by. And I think that’s the way that John felt. But...he was wrong. I’d spent some time with him in L.A. It wasn’t a good time for him and it wasn’t a good time for me. But we did hang out a bit. And...he wasn’t very careful. He didn’t have any security or anything like that. He was a working class guy. I think he felt it was all right. He loved America and felt he was okay. He loved New York in particular. But he was wrong. Because it didn’t work out for him, you know? And then, I remember working with Yoko, a little while, oh, quite a while afterwards and I saw the amount of security that she had to have with her too...with her kid there. And I thought, what a shame that was...everything that came from that. It has...it did. The way of the world has changed. We have to live in the world we live in now. It’s not all doom and gloom! I guess. (laughter)

mwe3.com: It was just such a blow to New York... Living in the same neighborhood as John and Yoko...it was all over much too soon...

JB: Yeah, well I used to live a lot in the Mayflower...Hotel. I don’t know if that’s still there. I don’t believe it is...61st, 62nd, Columbus. Central Park West really.

mwe3.com: My father owned the coffee shop in that hotel back then.

JB: Did he really? (laughter) I used to live there quite a lot in the ‘80s really. I remember I had a nice suite there. It was convenient.

mwe3.com: Thirty years already that he’s gone... Being that Cream and the Beatles were so intertwined. Especially what happened with Eric. And even George Harrison...

JB: What happened with Eric?

mwe3.com: Eric...after Cream, sort of after Goodbye Cream...Even on Goodbye Cream, George got involved with Eric. All of a sudden he became almost part of the Beatles community, playing on the White Album and then with the live Plastic Ono Band.

JB: I don’t think the Beatles community, because I don’t think they had a community. I think he was a friend of George’s but I don’t think he was a friend of John’s or Paul’s or Ringo’s really. He was a friend of George. There was no Beatles community. In fact, the Beatles were quite often at loggerheads. They were not very friendly, on very friendly terms. Even at that point. But certainly, yeah Eric was a friend of George’s.

mwe3.com: Eric kind of played on the White Album and he joined that Plastic Ono...he was like the first guitar player in Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.

JB: And then of course, George played on the Goodbye album and then he also played on Songs For A Tailor.

mwe3.com: I remember reading about that in your fascinating book. Andy Johns recalled how George came into the studio and was kind of nervous about actually playing with you on “Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out Of Tune.”

JB: I think he was just a little nervous of playing in a live situation because it probably wasn’t something he’d done in the studio very much. I had the whole band there. Horns... I had everything (laughter) going live and he had to play in a live situation with people he didn’t know. I think everybody would be nervous in that situation. I think he was very professional. He showed up in good time...and then when everybody else arrived, like the usual kind of (laughter) guys, who I use, who didn’t show up in time for the session...he was well ready to go. And the whole thing went just like clockwork. He was more than professional. He gave a great deal to that record which is still one of my favorite recordings that I’ve done.

mwe3.com: It’s probably one of the greatest albums ever made.

JB: Yeah, but that particular track that he played on. I think that’s a good track. I’ve done it in many...quite a few times till recently. With big bands and so on (laughter) and it still works very well. And somebody always plays George’s rhythm guitar part. (sings rhythm to track)

mwe3.com: Seems to my ears, George got a little too buried in the mix...I was also reading that Apple wouldn’t even let George use his real name on the Songs For A Tailor Lp. Of course that finally got fixed on the ‘03 CD remasters.

JB: Well I think they going through a lot of pressures of the times because of what’s his name who was taking over... There was a lot of stuff going on. It wasn’t George. They wanted to charge an unreasonably, ridiculous amount for him playing rhythm guitar on one track. And they wanted like a percentage of the whole album (laughter) which is not very reasonable. I didn’t want him for his name, I wanted him for his playing. No names were actually on that album when it came out. Nobody was credited...

mwe3.com: Yeah but on the remaster George is finally credited with his real name.

JB: Yeah, of course. It’s all done in retrospect. I always like the albums that just come out, with no information (laughter) what so ever. (laughter) I’m a fan of those.

mwe3.com: I was also reading in the Harry Shapiro book that after Cream went their separate ways, actually Hank Marvin contacted you. Is that true?

JB: Yeah. Hank Marvin, and Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

mwe3.com: Wow.

JB: I should have joined all of them at the same time! (laughter)

mwe3.com: It would have been interesting to see you and Hank Marvin play something together. The Shadows had just broken up at that time and Hank was entering his neo-prog guitar phase recording with his first solo album.

JB: I said, ‘I’d love to do it but I don’t know the footsteps.’ The footwalk.

mwe3.com: The Shadow walk!

JB: I think I was caught for about a month at that point. (laughter)

mwe3.com: Yeah, Hank’s first solo album was a highlight of 1969. Funny, The Shadows and Cream kind of broke up around the same time.

JB: I think Cream led to the breakup of a lot of bands. (laughter) It became kind of the thing to do. To break up, wasn’t it? Because we broke up, then The Beatles broke up I think? (laughter) And then Hendrix broke up. And The Shadows. I didn’t know they had broken up.

{thanks to some inept editing on my part, I accidentally recorded over the first 5 minutes of side two of the tape! But as I recall, flipping over the tape I was telling Jack that I currently live in Little Neck, at the northeast tip of NYC, and he commented on Little Neck being famous for clams, which we are... I guess that's why we started talking about clams! - editor - March 2011}

mwe3.com: How about Pete Brown’s book, White Rooms And Imaginary Westerns. Everyone gets a shot at writing a book. It seems like Pete copied you.

JB: It’s like after the war isn’t it? All the generals write down their versions of the battles. General Montgomery writes his book. In 1943, in fact when the great victories of the British army and all that. So, everybody writes their version of it, of what happened. ‘What did you do in the war daddy?’ You know? So you write it down. Not actually what it is. That’s what Pete’s book is. He’s as inaccurate as...I am. (laughter) He even gets my stories wrong. (laughter) Never mind his own stories. I get my stories wrong and he gets my stories wrong too! (laughter) I would take it all with a pinch of salt but as a bit entertainment value, it’s good! At least you can see I did a day’s work. (laughter)

mwe3.com: It’s a lot of work. Those songs...

JB: Yeah! That makes me proud. The fact that I did that and the fact that I’m still doing it now. There’s a lot of gigs coming up next year. Working in New York, Oakland, Seattle, all over Britain. So, I’m still doing it.

mwe3.com: Just a question about the Hippiefest. I really apologize for missing that back in 2008. I was so busy taking care of my mom. It was a hard time for me. Do you speak to Godfrey from time to time?

JB: Oh yeah, occasionally yeah. Again, we don’t tend to communicate unless it’s something to do with work. But I’ve got a lot of time for Godfrey. He’s a really good guy. I like him a lot. And he’s a great player but he’s also a really great human being.

mwe3.com: Well if you speak to him tell him I owe him lunch or dinner at the Buddhist restaurant in Flushing here. I know he’s vegetarian. I’m almost vegetarian...

JB: Eat some...what could you eat then? (laughter) Eat some clams! Clams are almost vegetables! They don’t move around a lot.

mwe3.com: I actually do eat clams sometimes...

JB: Well, if you live in Little Neck...you have no choice. There’s nothing else to eat, is there? (laughter)

mwe3.com: Well, there’s a lot of Asian people here...

JB: They ate all the clams, I’ll bet. The clams are probably all gone now.

mwe3.com: They eat a lot of clams, those Chinese.

JB: (laughter) They eat a lot of everything, just watch out for your poodle!

mwe3.com: My wife is Chinese and man whenever we go to the beach, instead of swimming, she’s looking for something to eat!

JB: (laughter) I won’t tell her you said that. Maybe it’s a female thing.

mwe3.com: I won’t eat that. It’s too close to the land! One more thing, I guess Esoteric is taking over the world...

JB: Who’s taken over the world?

mwe3.com: Esoteric, Cherry Red. The guys in England who put out your box set...

JB: All right...

mwe3.com: Can You Follow...

JB: What about them?

mwe3.com: Are you happy with the box set? I know we were talking about it a couple years ago.

JB: I think that it’s great that that happened. It was fantastic. I’ve got a lot of time for that company. It was good that they did that. Very thrilled about that coming out, yeah.

mwe3.com: And I remember talking to you about Automatic, which is one of my favorite albums of yours from the ‘80s. I loved that and still do. It was like stratospheric...

JB: I must listen to that again ‘cause I haven’t listened to it in... I wasn’t really convinced by it when I made it. (laughter) But I’m glad you like it. I’ll give it a listen again, you know? And see what I think.

mwe3.com: I’m glad Esoteric finally reissued that on CD. They’re putting out so much stuff but the only qualm I have is that they never send mwe3.com anything to review...

JB: You’re right there, absolutely right. They just put it out and hope for the best. (laughter)

mwe3.com: Well I hope what happens in England, doesn’t stay in England. Anyway, if you speak to them, tell them we love to review the geniuses from England.

JB: I’m Scottish! I’m not English.

mwe3.com: Scottish musicians too...

JB: Well you can say British, that’s acceptable. But when you say English, you’re missing out on the whole Celtic culture, which is what I am. So, it’s not accurate. That’s a kind of fault that Americans tend to have. They’re kind of insular. I had one person who said to me, ‘Where are you from?’ One American person... ‘I’m from Scotland.’ He said, ‘Oh! Scotland, ain’t that a small island near Paris?’ That’s a good album title, A Small Island Near Paris...

mwe3.com: I did the same thing with Donovan. I always thought he was English but he’s from Ireland.

JB: England can have him! (laughter) They can have Donovan and Rod Stewart. (laughter) They’re welcome to both of those guys. I’m only joking but then, that’s me.

mwe3.com: Also I had another DVD that was sent to me, actually a live thing called City Of Gold. Have you seen that?

JB: City Of Gold... Sounds like a bootleg to me.

mwe3.com: Because it’s with you playing with Phil Manzanera at the famous Guitar Legends concert in Spain...

JB: Oh yeah right. Is that a CD or DVD?

mwe3.com: It’s a DVD, but I was blown away by you and Phil Manzanera playing “White Room.” I remember seeing that amazing concert on TV.

JB: It was great fun to do and yeah I had a great time. There’s a lot of stories actually for that because I was working with Dylan for the first time and it was quite amusing to say the least. Another time I’ll give you the whole info on that because it’s worth the whole interview, that story.

mwe3.com: Phil is a genius. You and he have a great...rapport together.

JB: Oh yeah, he’s a great guitar player and a great guy too. He was also in that really good band, Roxy Music. They had a lot of success.

mwe3.com: So your health is okay...?

JB: Never better...

mwe3.com: I’m gonna be 57, so you’re a few years older than me...

JB: Well quite a few years. Ten. (laughter)

mwe3.com: Well, it’s not too many...when you think about it so...

JB: I would like to be ten years younger. (laughter) You don’t realize it at the time but ten years is good. You better make the most of the next ten years. (laughter) Just don’t eat too many clams! (laugher)

mwe3.com: Don’t eat too many clams or? That’s the only fish I can eat...because I’m in Little Neck. We don’t have any other fish...

JB: Well, if you get a good clam. Just don’t eat any bad clams! (laughter) I like clams. I like spaghetti ala vongole.

mwe3.com: How’s the Italian food in England these days?

JB: I don’t eat out very much. I cook a lot because I like it and I like to eat my own cooking. (laughter)

mwe3.com: So you’re living in Suffolk, outside of London?

JB: It is, indeed. It’s quite far out of London, yeah. Northeast of London. It’s nice in the summer...

mwe3.com: I’m going to work on the interview and then I’ll wait to get to hear the Live At The Milky Way 2001 CD set.

JB: That’s good. I think you’ve got enough. When you listen to the CD, you can use what I’ve said now. If there’s any supplemental questions you want to ask, you can either email me or set up another interview. I’d be very happy to do either or both. Because I really believe in that record. It’s a beautiful concert and it’s actually...very rarely that you get a gig, show recorded. And Kit did a great job on it, because it was lost for all those years. For eight years, we couldn’t find it, and then we found it and then we had to somehow get it from six DAT machines on to hard disc and then on to tape. It was quite a marathon and a wonderful job. And it turned out great. It’s like you’re there. To me, it’s the best live playing I’ve done. Check it out, check it out.

mwe3.com: Well thanks for the interview Jack, it’s always an honor to...

JB: Well, forget about the honor, but it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. You give my regards to Little Neck...So long.

Special thanks to Jack Bruce @ www.JackBruce.com, Peter Holmstedt, with the Blue Note photos courtesy Arnie Goodman of www.BluestormMusic.com and Elmore Magazine.








 
 
 
 
 

 


 

 

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