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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another first rate biography from Shapiro!
Harry Shapiro has maintained his high standards with this excellent biography of Jack Bruce, who co-operated fully throughout. In addition, there are many comments and insights from the vast number of top musicians Bruce has worked with during his long and varied career.

The book charts not just his music, but also his rock star lifestyle, and how it almost...
Published on 24 Feb 2010 by J. HOLMES

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who is Jack Bruce??
As a fan of Jack Bruce for many years, I really looked forward to the publication of this authorised biography. I have been quite disappointed by it however, as it is really light on any kind of insight into Jack Bruce - the person. The book includes lots of impersonal details about who recorded what and when, and who stood on stages where and when; but it is sadly...
Published on 4 April 2010 by Alisdair Fleming


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another first rate biography from Shapiro!, 24 Feb 2010
By 
J. HOLMES (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
Harry Shapiro has maintained his high standards with this excellent biography of Jack Bruce, who co-operated fully throughout. In addition, there are many comments and insights from the vast number of top musicians Bruce has worked with during his long and varied career.

The book charts not just his music, but also his rock star lifestyle, and how it almost destroyed him, as it resulted in a liver transplant from which he very nearly did not recover. Amazing to think that only 1 year after staring death squarely in the eye he was back on stage with the reformed Cream.

Interesting to read the Jack Bruce side of the so-called Baker - Bruce feud (having read Ginger's version in his autobiography last year). Perhaps suffice to say that whilst they would not necessarily choose each other as best friends, when it comes to working together as a rhythm section, they are virtually joined at the hip most of the time.

I guess that many people, like me, got a little lost from his music after the breakup of Cream, his early solo albums, and the short stint with WBL. However, reading this book has encouraged me to delve once again into the Bruce back catalogue.

Like most of Shapiro's books, once you pick it up, it is very hard to put down.

All in all, a worthy subject, and a book that does the monumental talents of Jack Bruce justice.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who is Jack Bruce??, 4 April 2010
By 
Alisdair Fleming "Al F" (Glasgow Scotland UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
As a fan of Jack Bruce for many years, I really looked forward to the publication of this authorised biography. I have been quite disappointed by it however, as it is really light on any kind of insight into Jack Bruce - the person. The book includes lots of impersonal details about who recorded what and when, and who stood on stages where and when; but it is sadly lacking in any insights into the personality of Jack Bruce. For all Jack's grumbles about the other biography - "Jack" by Steven Myatt, I think this is a much better book for anyone trying to find out about what makes this great musician really "tick". Real Jack Bruce fans will buy this authorised biography anyway, and enjoy the window into this master musician's life - but, I fear they will be left none the wiser as to the thoughts of the man. As a fellow Scot, I can understand Jack's reticence but I wish he had opened up a bit more!
Al F
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good account of the man and his music history, 31 Mar 2010
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D. Caldwell (Melbourne,Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
I think that Harry Shapiro and Jack Bruce have worked well together on this biography and have struck a good balance where each of them can hold their head up and feel proud of the outcome.
Harry because he has obviously researched well and widely and has told the story as it pretty well must be in reality. Jack because he has had the courage to permit the author to allow us to see both good and bad about him.In other words it doesnt give the impression that it has been overly sanitized for the public's consumption!
The book was well written and quite a pleasure to read compared to a previous well intentioned but very poorly written effort released by another author about 5 years ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great musician, good book., 26 Aug 2010
By 
J. MILLER "JohnM" (Farnham, Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
Jack Bruce was the first 'rock virtuoso' bassplayer and the first bass guitarist who made me and many others think "I want to do THAT!" This is an absolutely definitive biography, prepared with Bruce's own help; Shapiro also co-wrote a similarly definitive Hendrix biography, and he always researches very well and is good on dates and details. One of the appendices is - unbelievably - a list of EVERY gig Bruce has played. However the book doesn't entirely satisfactorily come to grips with Bruce's music, of which (IMHO) there is not enough analysis. Nonetheless it is a very worthwhile read as Jack Bruce is a huge and these days, neglected figure with an enormous and totally original output. It is also a very interesting contrast to the Baker and Clapton autobiographies. This book did send me back to the Cream records, 'Songs for a Tailor' and 'Harmony Row'. It makes you realise just how original and advanced those recordings were. This book is well worth getting if you like Jack and his music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars things I like, 29 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
A fascinating insight into a longtime, long lost hero. I read this in more or less one sitting, though I wanted to stay inside the story for as long as I could. I guess if you're of a certain age, Jack Bruce's music will have impinged on your life, via Cream if nothing else. What this book may well do by its descriptions of Bruce's later music is to send you back to Amazon to order the solo albums that followed Cream, to find out what happened next. Being of a certain age, Scottish and a bass player, I'm hopelessly biased, of course, but for me the book did what Bruce's music did in the first place - intrigued me enough to make me want to explore and find out more. In an attempt at critical balance, I might say that it tends occasionally towards hagiography, but maybe that's an accusation that could be levelled at almost any biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This quality, 11 May 2012
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Duncan A. Heining (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
Having enjoyed Shapiro's biographies of Graham Bond and Alexis Korner, as well as his excellent and well-informed survey of drugs and music, I have to say that the author has surpassed himself here. Having interviewed Jack Bruce myself, I can say that he is a remarkably intelligent, honest and articulate subject. But it takes real skill to take such insights and transform them into a sustainable narrative that reflects an artist's career and yet integrates this within a broader personal and social historical perspective. Add to that the fact that this book is beautifully produced with excellent photographs and detailed and helpful appendices. Would that other music biographies had such authority.
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4.0 out of 5 stars bass genius, 17 April 2014
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Great informative book but where are the pictures! Has a really comprehensive diary of gigs and albums,buy it, I would imagine the paper edition will have the photographs hence 4 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an astonishing musical life, 8 Jan 2012
This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
I have read several biographies of Jack Bruce - and this is certain the best. It's a good honest chronicle of an astonishing musical life. Jack Bruce--with his influences of Avant Guard Jazz and Johan Sebastian Bach is one of the most innovative musicians of the 20th Century. With Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce undoubtedly was the driving force of Cream - a band who still hold attention after almost 50 years. It is little understood that Jack Bruce's counterpoint was what made Cream's instrumental extravaganzas so memorable.
Eric Clapton was undoubtedly a fine musician with Cream - but without Jack Bruce's contrapuntal virtuosity, there would have been nothing in those solos that would have proved timeless. One of the saddest aspects of the break-up of Cream was the loss of a new direction in Blues - the slow measure which allowed the lightning riffs, when all around people were speeding the tempo and losing the heart of Blues. Well you accelerate Blues you get Rock and Roll - which, although wonderful in its own way, fails to be Blues. Jack Bruce (and also Ginger Baker) brought in the Avant Guard Jazz element which was the signpost to the future that vanished when Cream vanished.
Harry Shapiro has written an excellent biography of Jack Bruce - and has included commentary from the many world-class musicians with whom Jack Bruce has cooperated. This book follows his music and life events that kept me reading. It was a book that was hard to put down. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Blues and Jazz - or simply the joy of music.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For hubby, 18 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
Got this for my hubby for xmas, looks like a good read, I'm sure he's going to like it.
Have no complaints about packaging or delivery, all good!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Dec 2011
This review is from: Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography (Paperback)
...wonderful book about one of the most underrated artist of our time.I discovered Jack solo works recently and this book is an excellent, complete and and passionate compendium to his music.Great work Mr. Shapiro!
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Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography
Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorised Biography by Foreword by Eric Clapton (Paperback - 1 Feb 2010)
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