Bill Bruford: Hell's Bells


Hell's Bells


Bill Bruford (drums)


One of a Kind (EG Records EGCD40)

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Bill Bruford (drums),

Dave Stewart (keyboards), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Jeff Berlin (bass)


Composed by Dave Stewart & Alan Gowen


Recorded: London, England, January-February 1979


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Bill Bruford has one of the most impressive résumés of any drummer alive. He was the original drummer for rock supergroup Yes. He was an integral part of the progressive rock band King Crimson, and toured with another hugely popular band, Genesis. In recent years Bruford's efforts, especially with his group Earthworks, have trended toward the jazz of his background. But even in his early career, a jazz sensibility was never far from the center of the rock music he was performing. This made a group such as Yes sound even more distinctive. The band's music was never fusion, but its drummer played it that way.

The musicians heard here on Bruford's second solo outing were known collectively as simply Bruford. Most musicians hate it when you categorize their music. But we listeners have to do it in order to communicate with one another. This was a fusion band that progressive rockers would call a progressive rock band out of pride and fusion guys would call a progressive rock band out of snobbishness. The band was really a 50-50 jazz-rock/progressive rock proposition.

"Hell's Bells" is an up-tempo fusion number with a pop hook. A heavy backbeat supports layers of synthesized keyboards. A dastardly low-register Holdsworth plays his guitar as if inside a bottle of maple syrup. Bruford double-times the affair. Berlin's throbbing bass is a constant. This isn't the deep fusion of Mahavishnu or Weather Report. It was a more fun version meant to connect with the commoner in us all.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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