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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much one of a kind
This is possibly the best rock autobiography I have ever read.

Erudite, articulate and well-informed, Bruford's prose is in many ways an extension of his drumming - smart, sharp and possessing of a wicked sense of humour. His tales of frustration at the jobbing musician's lot, and the apparently perennial inscrutability of Robert Fripp, are wryly funny, his...
Published on 1 April 2009 by Manir Donaghue

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but.............
I was really looking forward to this biography. Bruford has been at the centre of, as far as I am concerned, some of the most interesting and innovative bands of the last 40 years and has known and played with countless significant musicians. I was looking forward to a revealing insight into those experiences and of Bill's life in the incredible piece of musical history...
Published on 14 May 2009 by Paul B


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much one of a kind, 1 April 2009
By 
Manir Donaghue "rnadir" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
This is possibly the best rock autobiography I have ever read.

Erudite, articulate and well-informed, Bruford's prose is in many ways an extension of his drumming - smart, sharp and possessing of a wicked sense of humour. His tales of frustration at the jobbing musician's lot, and the apparently perennial inscrutability of Robert Fripp, are wryly funny, his clinical dissection of Yes is laugh out loud funny - but still through this you are left in little doubt that whilst there have been lows, there is an awful lot of warmth and respect for his fellow travellers - very few axes are ground, and the writing lacks the sour tone that can occasionally be found in Peter Banks' autobiog, for example. Or most of Neil Peart's written work.

Where this books really takes off, is his descriptions of the end of his performing career, and it's here that the book takes on a tone of gentle melancholy. Exhibiting a side to his character that is almost entirely absent from his interviews (and you'll see why after reading this), one feels for the strains and world-weariness of a man who is almost the classic antithesis of received wisdom defining a popular musician.

I can't recommend this highly enough - anyone with a passing interest in the more esoteric music of the 1970's, the economies of scale of the UK jazz scene, or the inner workings of one of popular music's more honest and intelligent exponents, will find this a fine read
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and intelligent, 12 Jun 2009
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
I read the first chapter of this engaging, intelligent autobiography on the author's website before its release, and was soon copying out passages from that to send to my musician friends. Bruford tells the story of his life as a professional musician in an entertaining fashion that's always interesting, but enhances his narrative with his thoughts on topics such as the tension between trying to make music that's good and music that's popular, the impact of lengthy tours on a stable home life, and even such big topics as why we find music so appealing. In tackling these fascinating questions, he's not afraid to reference more scholarly works with an erudition that I would call pleasantly surprising if that description wasn't patronising.

He also has an eye on history, pointing out that the possibility of making a living as a musician has only emerged very recently (elsewhere, he notes that in ancient Rome, female musicians were ranked with courtesans and prostitutes, whilst at other times they have been slaves). The role of technology - as it allows musicians to make money from recordings of their performances - in this emergence is carefully brought out, as is the way in which technology's evolution is destroying the old business model of record companies.

This book (which appears to have been produced in the total absence of ghost- or co-writers) is very well written, with some deft touches; one of my favourites occurred in the account of a recording session playback on p192: "The pianist and I are probably past our best, but the saxophonist is triumphant and the bassist, who tends to hear only his own contribution, and thus will not become the band's record producer any time soon, doesn't care any more."

Finally, there are some fascinating details garnered from Bruford's stories about playing in famous groups. I thought I knew a lot about the evolution of Yes's Tales from Topographic Oceans (one of my favourite records), so I was astonished to read on p71 about how singer Jon Anderson apparently got the idea for its original concept from Jamie Muir, King Crimson's eccentric percussionist. Furthermore, the fact that this discussion took place at a party in the Brufords' London flat on their wedding day is remarkable, and typical of the kind of fascinating detail contained in this delightful book.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 7 April 2009
By 
J. D. Chambrelan (Madrid, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
I do thoroughly agree with the previous reviewer on this one. This is a deeply thoughtful and moving book, full of intelligent insights into the life of a working musician, the inside machinery of the music industry, the place popular music occupies in our world, etc. It's certainly much more than an autobiography: though we are offered some memorable and deeply funny accounts of life in the road and in the studio with Yes and the "Mighty Crim" (his view of Fripp manages to be both considerate, balanced, ironic and outright hilarious, all at once), the strength of this volume lies in that it offers nothing less than a Poetics of music. Sounds pretentious, I know, but it's all done with subtlety, intelligence and a sense of humour which (believe me) very few writers, let alone literary critics, actually possess: his ideas on creativity have an urgency and immediacy about them which is both disarming and memorable. Bruford has though hard and long about music, its place in the world, and, more importantly, his own relationship with music in the course of time. And this is where the book really takes off, as it were: the sad and painful account of his increasing (and crippling) self-awareness at the drum stool, of the sense of mounting exhaustion which has clouded these last years of his working life, is beautifully told and infuses the final pages of this book with a pervading melancholy. There is no false humility here, but deep honesty and a disarming frankness. Actually, being somebody who grew listening to early Yes and King Crimson (up to "Three of a Perfect Pair), but who has been with Bruford all the way up to his most recent Earthwork offerings, I think this book is a beautiful, if a bit melancholy, way of rounding up a musical career notorious for its variety, adventurousness and creativity. This book is a must for anybody interested not only in music but in how the arts in general can make something happen out there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel, interesting, innovative and absorbing..just like his drumming, 16 Jan 2010
By 
A. Thomson "bluebag" (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
Most self-penned, or ghost written, musician autobiographies are tedious, shallow and badly-written; drifting into car-crash road-tales which keep those that aspire to be like them titillated. This book is exactly the opposite and by a long way, the best musical biography of 2009.

Bill Bruford inspired many drummers with his idiosyncratic sparkling approach to his instrument(s); he deserved an innovative and thoughtful record of his muscial career and I am really delighted that he has written one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, But Something's Missing..., 23 Oct 2009
This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
This is a superb book by a truly world-class percussionist. Almost as fluent and expressive a writer as he is a drummer, Bruford speaks frankly about his progress through the music industry, the characters he has encountered, as well as his musicological take on what he has been trying to accomplish all these years. As I expected, however, there is a stark absence of anything whatsoever about the meaning behind the music he has written or participated in. A wealth of description about the stylistics, the instruments, the state of mind, the chemistry on stage, all of that... but nothing about what impressions or messages he and his groups were trying to convey with specific works. Granted, this is perhaps the hardest topic of all for even a musician to talk about, but given how much thought Bruford has clearly paid to the theory of music in general, I still found myself disappointed and even saddened throughout the book by how little he has to say on such things.

The most compelling aspect of the autobiography for me is the way it exposes Bruford's deep insecurity about the level of his playing, fuelled by his irresistable urge to compare himself to other drummers - surprising, considering how flippant and confident he has often appeared in interviews. Not only must this endless mental competition be exhausting and writer's block-inducing, but for the majority of the book he actually keeps reaching the conclusion that his drumming is inferior to that of his peers or juniors (something most of his readership, I am sure, can hardly agree with). For some reason he almost mourns the fact he is not an academic or a perfect (ie. soulless) session musician. There must be deep roots to all of this, and unfortunately they are not covered in the book - most likely because Bruford himself has not yet looked that far into it - but while such analysis might have been fascinating it would probably have steered things too far away from the music career lowdown, which was I guess the real point of the exercise.

An essential read for listeners and musicians alike, and especially for fans of Yes, Crimson, his early progressive rock collaborations and of course Earthworks, who wish to flesh out their knowledge of this fine musician and even question a few things they think they know about music. But what is Bill Bruford's 'angle', his message within the music? Do not expect to be any the wiser about that after reading this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid, thoughtful, witty and smart, 19 May 2009
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
Bruford's unlikely path through prog rock, 'art rock', jazz and forms less easy to pigeonhole has been eye-catching. He has clearly always sought to stretch his own abilities and what can be done with a set of drums, turning away from opportunities for easy rides despite the dosh.

So this autobiography was always going to be interesting. But whilst there are numerous tales of life on the road and in the studio, often very funny, the larger part of the text is concerned with wider issues: reconciling musical and family life; what counts as 'success' and 'creativity'; at what point are you a 'good' musician, and how long should you go on? Each chapter launches from a different commonly-asked question (eg. "What do you do in the daytime?"), and does not so much directly answer it as stalk around it, examining the view from all sides.

It's intelligent, honest and articulate stuff, easy to read but with insights on every page. It's not just about Bill, but about the music business and, separately, the business of making music. I doubt I'll read a better book by a musician.

(And - in my edition anyway - there's a send-away offer for a free sampler CD.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from Hum- drum..., 21 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. C. J. Iredale "juxtapose" (London Town) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
I have to say, having seen Bill interviewed on television a number of times, one gets a flavour of how he thinks; he is always a joy and both funny, dry and clear thinking. I was hoping this book would also project the same personality. I was not disappointed.

This book covers his career and goes in depth into his thoughts and emotions. At times very funny and quite cutting; he certainly does not suffer fools at all, but is also quite humble. He is aware who lucky he has been and is never shy of putting that point across. He describes the formation of Yes in a way I have not come across before, the development of the band and his reasons (brave that they were) for leaving to go to King Crimson. I was not aware of the emotional and financial cost this decision made, but as ever, Bill explains himself well and in a most entertaining way.

The book also covers his period in King Crimson, working with the unusual and occasionally difficult Bob Fripp, and his jazz work with his own band, Earthworks. All are very entertaining and as one review complains that this book hangs together as a series of essays rather than an autobiography (and they are right), this is a much easier book to dip into, and for me is a much more satisfactory affair. Not everyone's cup of tea, but if we were all the same the world would be a dull place.

If you have any interest in the man, or his music, this will be a treat for you. I liked it a lot. Nice work, Bill.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A drummers life, 19 Aug 2009
By 
M. Coller (Garden of Eden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
What is it about drummers? the need for detail, the search for perfection, the search for a decent coffee!
A great read for anyone who was 'there' during the 70's. The early Yes took young BB from late late nights at the Speakeasy to the Stadiums of the USA. Then he jumped ship. 'Mad' we all thought at the time.
That was until the 'Mighty Crim' unleashed Larks Tounges and all became clear in the BB masterplan. Besides he dodged Typoerror Oceans, so nice one Bill.
I recall seeing Bill in 73' with Fripp and the merry gang, playing his kit like he had just been given it on Christmas Morning.
Anyway this is a book grahpically detailing life as a rock drummer who found eventual fulfillment in jazz whilst spurnning the cash for love of his music and craft. It appears his love of food also had to suffer along the way too. How does anyone recall what he ate back stage in 1971?
The inside view of running a band is enlightening. You cant help but agree with his 'grumpy old man' view of todays X factor/ download led music business.
He ends on a sad but appropirate note of his retirement from the music business, but i'd guess never from the music itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well-written, informative but bitter, and even hateful, 12 Jun 2012
This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
Detailed erudite thinking of an ageing virtuoso drummer who consciously (perhaps mistakenly) turned his back on Yes to participate in the experimentation project(s) of King Crimson. This book provides an articulate and laser-sharp view of the industry itself - which dominates the book. At times it can be crushing: but nevertheless, it's highly-informative and brilliantly written.

I couldn't resist quoting this (below) from p. 326 though. I, Alan Partridge anyone?:

'I was well rewarded in the publishing and performance credits for a King Crimson improvisation called ''Trio'' of 1973, and rightly so, although my only contribution had been silence. Had I played, I would have materially altered the composition, so my silence spoke eloquently enough to warrant a royalty share.'

Aha!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential purchase, 8 April 2009
By 
Mr. Stephen Goulden (Sheffield) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More (Paperback)
Anyone who plays an instrument of any kind or plays in a gigging band should read this heartfelt, perceptive, funny and moving book. The only downside is that you will find it impossible to recount any more drummer jokes to your band members after such an erudite expose of the music biz. In fact most rock guitarists, ironically, will probably need a dictionary to hand for several of the passages contained in this book.
Stevie G (Rock guitarist)
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