why does ginger baker hate jack bruce
Following last year s London Roundhouse show a year after Jack Bruce s death, this edition of the charity fundraising concert sees a different line-up tackle many of the songs written by or associated with the former Cream bassist/vocalist. This is what it taught us
The first kiss is often the sweetest Last year s was a mostly highly enjoyable and successful event, thanks to a collectively good performance anchored by some unexpected inspired ones, notably Level 42 man Mark King s sterling performance throughout on bass and vocals, s solos on I Feel Free and Badge and Bruce s daughter s emotionally charged vocal delivery of We re Going Wrong. Tonight is somewhat lacklustre by comparison perhaps because it s very much a repeat performance but, perhaps inevitably, without the same gravity, intensity and sense of occasion. Starting more than half an hour late probably doesn t help, especially towards the end when things start being rushed and there s an air of mild panic. There s no such thing as being over-rehearsed When musicians get together for all-star events like this one, or even just when it s someone putting in a guest appearance live, far too often it s a car crash waiting to happen, and far too often that s because someone decides that either they ve done sufficient rehearsing or that as professionals they don t need to they know the song and they ll pick it up. Tonight they just about get away with it, with just a couple of endings it s always the bloody endings coming close to falling down the stairs and taking a few reputations with them. Turns out it wasn t a mistake to invite Ginger Baker again After the legendary grump s petulant and embarrassing display last year, throwing his sticks out of the pram and storming off stage, this year an exclusion order seemed a dead cert. But tonight it s a humble, who walks gingerly to the mic, talks a bit about his pal Jack, apologises for being able to play for only a very short time due to ill health, then thumps out a mesmerising Afro beat for just a couple of minutes. He gets one of the biggest applauses of the night and leaves the stage with dignity and with his World s Grumpiest Man reputation in tatters.
It s not the big names who make the biggest impression Ginger Baker, Billy Cobham (the only significant no-show), Mick Taylor, Trevor Horn and Steve Hackett might have been some of the stars on the bill, but apart from Baker s most of the highlight performances come from elsewhere. Guitarists Dave Clem Clempson delivers another slew of wonderful guitar solos, drummer Corky Laing (Mountain/West, Bruce Lang) puts in a gloriously tub-thumping shift on Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Keep It Down and more, drummer Dennis Chambers (Santana, Parliament Funkadelic, John McLaughlin) gives a highly impressive masterclass on Cream s Deserted Cities Of The Heart and an otherwise rather sloppy Sunshine Of Your Love. The best performance of the night, however, is arguably Scottish singer Maggie Reilly s quite beautiful delivery of Rope Ladder To The Moon. Credit too to ringmaster /bassist Malcolm Bruce and MC/vocalist Pete Brown for bringing it, and then holding it, all together. It was very much a ladies night Along with Reilly s star turn, Lulu showed real class fronting the ensemble on Sunshine Of Your Love, and both Eddi Reader ( Never Tell Your Mother She s Out Of Tune ) and Jack s granddaughter Maya Sage (on the outstanding and terrifically atmospheric Out Into The Fields ) gave show-stealing vocal performances with verve and panache. It would be churlish to be critical of a charity event where musicians are doing it for free Yes, but it isn t free for the audience, some of whom have paid 100 and some of whom will perhaps have left feeling a little bit short-changed after watching a show that could quite easily more rehearsal, fewer performers, a better choice of songs have been so much better. When it s a charity show it s only fair to give the charities a plug Why not? So if you ve got a bit of spare cash burning a hole in your pocket and feel like giving it to a good cause, consider giving it to and/or Jack s favourite local charity, and feel that warm glow that comes from having done a good deed. All images: Kevin Nixon When Gary Moore joined Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in the ersatz Cream BBM in 1993, it was a dream come true for the guitarist but one that was over almost as soon as it began.
We tell the full story of in Classic Rock 243, and we ve reproduced an excerpt below, in which the trio enter the studio to record their debut album It all started calmly enough. The new band went into the large residential studio at Hook End, Berkshire. And as a present for Ginger, Gary s team managed to track down Ginger s old Ludwig double-bass-drum Cream drum kit on sale in a drum shop in North London. Ginger walked in, said Gary, and he was just freaked when he saw it. But he didn t end up using it because it didn t sound as good as his modern kit. Gary did have concerns, though, when Ginger first arrived at the studio, as producer Ian Taylor explains: Ginger had been paid a lot of money for the session, flown in from America Business Class and so on, and he turned up with hands full of cuts and calluses. Turned out that Ginger had been building fences for his horses and his hands looked like a stockman s. He also had a whopping great bump on his head. Apparently he had been doing a spot of roof repairs on a windy day. He tried to grab his hat as it blew off, forgetting that he was holding a hammer at the time. After they ran through some Cream songs to warm up, we started putting down tracks and it was very easy, Gary said. There was no problem at all. It was really fun and I got a great insight into the chemistry between Jack and Ginger. It wasn t what I thought at all; they weren t at each other s throats. I think Jack really looks up to Ginger, and Ginger knows it, so he ll never tell him he s any good. They re like two brothers, just winding each other up. One day I said to Jack: Can you ask Ginger to play the hi-hat pattern like he did on Born Under A Bad Sign? No way. I m not fuckin asking him. You ask him. So I just pressed the button in the control room and asked him to play that pattern and he said: Yeh, sure, man. No problem. And Jack looked at me speechless. They were just like an old married couple. It s just the way they were. Ian Taylor agrees that, for the most part, and given the egos, it was remarkably plain sailing.
We did have one problem over timing with Ginger. For some reason we were using a click track on Where In The World, and Ginger just couldn t or wouldn t get on with it. It can be a problem for the older drummers. I remember the contacts sheets back from Virgin, it was such a strong image. It was also the most amazing juxtaposition: rock s Grade-A curmudgeon in a long black coat, smoking a fag, presented as a heavenly celestial being one of rock s classic album covers. The album, Around The Next Dream, was released on May 17, 1994 at the start of the tour. The whole vibe about a possible Cream reunion, and the fact that half the songs clearly had their Cream antecedence, gave the critics ample ammunition for comments along the lines of: They couldn t get Eric, so they got Gary instead, which was a world away from the truth. Gary recalled that one interviewer actually asked him: Have you always wanted to be Eric Clapton? And now you can be? And I thought: No, fuck off. And then Ginger chimed in with Gary plays like Gary. Eric plays like Eric. Jack also found the ersatz Cream jibes very irksome: We deliberately wanted to nod towards Cream. It was around the time when Oasis were copying The Beatles, so I thought: Why shouldn t I do a copy of me? So it was very deliberate, and I thought it worked very well. Some reviewers did buck the trend: Q magazine concluded that the album was satisfyingly well rounded which proves that BBM are not Cream re-formed with one notable omission, but a credible band in their own right. Even the ever-astringent Charles Shaar Murray, writing in Rolling Stone, felt that improved recording techniques gave this band a sound that was bigger, cleaner, rounder and more defined than the often fuzzy, scuzzy, overcompressed Cream, and thought Gary had out-Gibsoned and out-Marshalled his illustrious predecessor. Despite all the carping, the album sold well in Europe and got to No. 9 in the UK chart. Taken from the brand new official Gary Moore biography I Can t Wait Until Tomorrow. Only available in the forthcoming BMG Gary Moore: Blues And Beyond box set.
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