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on 28 October 2010
Derek Bailey was one of those musicians who could be called a genius without any sense of over-inflation. A complete original who totally revolutionised the guitar. And while this album presents a fair document of the evolution of his technique, it isn't the place for someone new to his music to start.

As the "Evolution Over Time" review indictaes, there are lots of points of interest here and lots for the listener to get their teeth into. There also seems to be some randomly picked filler material that can be quite distracting - an example would be the 'Last Post' letters - cassette tapes recorded by Bailey and posted to friends where he plays and talks - his comments on the political situation in Britain during the 80s are quite perceptive and the way he drops in "Thatcher" as if he has stood in something deeply unpleasant is better than most political satire. However, if you're wanting to hear his guitar playing at its best, these are tracks to avoid.

There is penty here that warrants further listening, but this is an album for those of us who have an overwhelming urge to buy everything.

If you're after a first toe in the water of Derek Bailey I would suggest some of his other albums on Emanem: First Duo Concert: London 1974 catches him in concert with Anthony Braxton (from which the rehearsal extracts are taken) or Domestic and Public Pieces: Solo Guitar Improvisations 1975-1977. You could also try his albums on Tzadik: Pieces for Guitar catches him at an early point in his career and is fairly accessible while Standards and Ballads show just what his skills at sonic manipulation could do.
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on 11 September 2010
This is the disc for anyone approaching Bailey's work for the first time. There's a clue in the title as to why this is but on a practical level the pieces collected here range from 1971 to 1998.

Because Bailey was the player he was and because he devoted himself to the effectively infinite possibilities of free improvisation with a dedication few others could lay claim to the set doesn't unfold over time. Instead it offers an insight into his approach to the guitar and how he responded to the demands of the moment as he heard them.

Played as a solo on acoustic guitar `Tunnel Hearing' might be a heavily ironic title in view of this, but over the course of its seven minute duration Bailey develops ideas and discards them when they're usurped by others. The result is close to someone thinking aloud in an instrumental vocabulary.

As early as 1973 Bailey had it in him to take his instrument further out than any of the guitar shredders now working in the metal / noise area and `A Bit Of The Crust' proves it.

This was an area that Bailey was to work on for the rest of his life -indeed the two albums he cut in the company of the Japanese bass-drums duo Ruins are a summary of how far he took it, but then he was one of those rare figures for whom the only progress was in the forwards direction.
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