Ok, so first off… I dropped the ball on this blog series. Last entry 2016 = fail. So I’m getting things back on track by talking about the autobiography of Bill Bruford. You can pick it up on Amazon, (Prime) or if you get lucky like me, the shelves of Cheap Thrills here in Montreal.
I’m listening to King Crimson Red while I write this. Bruford spends a great deal of time writing about this album in the book, saying ” I love Red. It was my third attempt at recording with the band, and despite the confused and genuinely upsetting circumstances surrounding its creation, the record has a coherence and a gritty consistency that has translated well across several decades of rock and an influence beyond the pain of its making.” Intrigued?! You must read on!
Have you wondered about the trashy cymbal in the track “One More Red Nightmare“? It was a cymbal Bruford found in a rehearsal room trash can, left by the group before them. It was turned up on one side just to fit in the bin and “it had seen better days… I have no idea what happened to it. Its maltreatment had bequeathed it this fabulous trashy sound with very short decay. It looked so sad; I took pity on it and we fell in love.”
Ok need I say more? We all can relate to this deep love for our instrument, the hidden gems, the broken down yet magical sounds we find.
Another highlight for me was Bruford’s description of original drummer Jamie Muir‘s drumset for the album Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. Clearly inspired by the vast sounds Muir used, Bruford began to approach his kit in new ways, comparing it to the ‘prepared’ piano approach of Cage and Nancarrow. He states “what if you got rid of all the toms, and substituted oil barrels instead? What if you put baking trays in the bass drum and chains all over the toms?… Jamie Muir had done just that in his Larks’ Tongues In Aspic period to produce the divine clattering on the album’s title track.”
The book is personable and insightful, critical and endearing. One of the greatest progressive rock drummers of all time, Bruford draws you into his world, his impressions on music and approach to drumming.
(p.s. I love Bill Bruford’s Earthworks album All Heavan Broke Loose… and that’s another story.)
Want to read more? Check out my last post: Books for Drummers: The Complete Ludwig Guide