Bill Bruford: Joe Frazier
Bill Bruford (drums)
Gradually Going Tornado (EG Music EGCD44)
Bill Bruford (drums),
Dave Stewart (keyboards), John Clark (guitar), Jeff Berlin (bass).
Composed by Jeff Berlin.
Recorded: Surrey, England, October-November 1979
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
I am not going to review any of the songs on this album that contain Jeff Berlin's vocals. God bless the guy. He is one of the greatest jazz bassists alive today. But his voice on the opening cut sounds like a bad imitation of Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon. (Chronologically, this makes no sense as Duran Duran wouldn't hit it big for a year or two after this recording took place. So perhaps Le Bon was doing a good impression of Berlin.)
Percussionist Bruford's previous release, One of a Kind, had been a pure fusion affair. And it was very good. Gradually Going Tornado, however, was more progressive rock and aimed toward a pop audience. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth had been replaced with "the unknown" John Clark. He is a good player who sounds a bit like Holdsworth. But it is not good enough to sound a bit like him for this music. All in all, there is less interesting material on the album. But there are a couple of cuts of note. One of them is "Joe Frazier."
"Joe Frazier" is a showcase for the bassist Berlin. From his corner it was relayed that Berlin had been unhappy that in other recordings with Bruford his sound had been too low in the mix. He couldn't say that about this performance. He spends most of his time dancing in the middle of the ring. He is joined there by sparring mate Dave Stewart. It is a thrust and parry worthy of any jazz-rock bout. Clark makes his strongest effort on the tune as well. Bruford seems to be the referee, making sure the players don't clinch. Toss in some funky trick punches and a very good bass solo, and you have the full 15 rounds.
Reviewer's Fun Fact: During and after heavyweight Joe Frazier's boxing career he led a musical group called Joe Frazier and the Knockouts. Frazier was the lead vocalist. He was a much worse singer than Jeff Berlin. But who was going to tell him?
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky