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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sessions kiss, collide and miss..., 14 Sep 2008
If you own the single CD set 'BBC Live in Concert' (Windsong/Strange Fruit), then you'll already be familiar with the first 9 tracks of disc 1 of this 3-disc set, but will also likely notice something is very different. 'Spirit' at last gives us the original stereo recording of (most) of this 1971 concert, and with markedly superior sound quality than before. This is because earlier issues foolishly used the crudely mixed and distorted mono tape that was held by the BBC Sound Archive, instead of obtaining from BBC Worldwide a copy of either the stereo BBC Transcription Disc or the stereo tape used to prepare it. At the time this programme was recorded (19th August 1971, not 18th September as notes here suggest) Radio 1's In Concert was still being transmitted in mono, but the Transcription Service had begun issuing recordings from the series to its subscribers in stereo. Owing to the time limitations of the LP, one track had to be excluded - 'The Clearout', which consequently only survives in the distorted mono mix which again had to be used here. For the rest however, the far superior sonic quality and clarity of the stereo version is a major improvement, with Spedding's guitar and Bruce's bass properly separated, allowing a much more satisfying appreciation of their dynamic and harmonic interactions. 'Spirit' also corrects the track running order to that of the original broadcast.

The final three tracks of Disc 1 are from a Jazz in Britain session (tx 30 August 1971, not the 31st) by a trio featuring jazz saxophonist John Surman and drummer Jon Hiseman, all overdubbing on 'Jack's Gone'. This was one of the most memorable and unexpected sessions ever to be heard on the long-running and much-missed Radio 3 series, with many a sceptical jazz fan being taken aback by the convincing and confident nature of Bruce's jazz improvisations (on the electric instrument to boot), easily holding his own alongside Surman's titanic baritone and soprano outpourings. Unfortunately 'Spirit' gives us only a third of the music recorded at this session, so we don't get to hear Surman's mysterious bass clarinet contribution, or Jack's wonderful 'Eleven', the latter held over for transmission until the following year.

Disc 2 again returns us to familiar territory with a reissue of the 1975 Old Grey Whistle Test session, previously issued by Strange Fruit. The sound is mono because that is how the original programme was transmitted, but the mix is clean and reasonably well balanced, far superior in this respect to the woefully mixed 'Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall', where Bruce's bass can scarcely be heard much of the time. 'Spirit' gives us the complete session, reinstating the beautiful 'Without a Word', which previous releases omitted, along with Bruce's and Bob Harris's announcements, but the intrusive, artificial sounding applause which had been dubbed into the Strange Fruit release has now thankfully been removed. Bruce's singing has been criticised by some, others noting that he appeared drunk or stoned on the date, but apart from an occasional hoarseness of tone, and a tendency to certain vocal mannerisms that are often more evident in his live work anyway, he generally sings in tune and plays with great... spirit. The sublimely moving 'One', verses of intense intimacy alternating with defiant, almost strident choruses, is perhaps the piece which best exemplifies Jack's art in this period, embodying the duality (bipolarity?) which has characterised his entire career - pop and jazz, ballads and blues, lead vocal and bass harmony, acoustic and electric, the marriage (and divorce) of his music with Pete Brown's lyrics, mind and body, populism and experimentalism, the list goes on... If you enjoy the songs featured here, you will adore the gorgeous studio versions to be found in the stunning 'Out of the Storm' album. It's a total mystery however, as to why this concert has not been issued here on DVD, as the video masters are known to survive in excellent condition.

The final two tracks of disc 2, and the last on disc 3, represent a complete Jazz in Britain session by the same jazz trio heard on disc 1 - Surman, Bruce and Hiseman - seven years on. The degree of improvisational empathy and instrumental creativity on show here is, again, a joy to behold, and is perhaps among the best work that any of the three have ever committed to tape or disc. How sad that they don't appear to have worked as a unit since. I've found no evidence here, nor in the trio's 1971 session on disc 1, that Bruce also played 'string bass' on either of these dates, as the 'Spirit' booklet claims.

Finally we have the 1977 band's In Concert, remembered by listeners as one of the earliest instances of a BBC programme transmitting in quadraphonic sound. 'Spirit' omits to mention this, but the quad encoding is preserved in the 2 channels presented here as stereo, so if you are among a handful of people to still own a working BBC H-matrix decoder, or have the know-how to build one, you should still be able to reconstitute the original 4-channel sound that the producer intended. Continuing the move towards a song-form jazz-rock suggested by the 1975 band, the pieces featured here were mostly from 'How's Tricks', with some of Pete Brown's most intriguing lyric turns to date. Common sense says that 'Spirit' ought to have remixed the quad recording to 5.1 surround and presented it on DVD along with the Old Grey Whistle Test show.

'Spirit' does not claim to be the 'Complete BBC Recordings', nor even a 'Best of the BBC Recordings', so we cannot carp about the many omissions, but one critical omission here is simply unforgivable - Bruce's 1971 Sounds of the 70s session with guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer John Marshall. This survives in the BBC Worldwide archive in excellent stereo sound, and should have formed the centrepiece of a set such as this, featuring as it does beautiful studio re-workings of some of his finest songs of the period, with the overdubbed keyboards and double-tracked voices that were simply impossible to produce in a concert setting - a tragic oversight by Spirit's compilers.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, inventive and progressive, 6 April 2008
By 
Bodhi Heeren (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This great box-set contains four concerts with Jack, who must be considered one of the true legends of modern music. A revolutionary pioneer on electric bass, a highly accomplished vocalist, a gifted and very diverse composer. A multitalent spanning so many genres: rock, blues, jazz, avant-garde.

Two of the shows have been released already. The 1971 with Chris Spedding, Graham Bond and John Marshall, and the 1975 presenting one of his hottest bands ever featuring Mick Taylor and Carla Bley. But here in a superior soundquality. We also get a performance from his 1977 outfit with a young Simon Philips, already then a formidable drummer.The interplay between him and Jack's fretless bass-magic certainly more than makes up for the rather inadequate guitarwork of Hughie Burns.

Neither of these shows might be Jack at his absolute best. Being a spontanous and erratic performer, he's rarely at his finest in this more formal settings. But there's plenty to enjoy. Some fine versions of the marvelous songs from his first three solo-albums, some rearranged Cream-classics and from time to time inspired and transcendent moments of pure music.

Spread over the three discs we also get some fine jazzy moments with Jack in the fine company of Jon Hiseman and saxlegend John Surman.

As with all from the bassmaestro, the mastermind behind Cream, this is essential stuff for all lovers of true progressive and inventive music.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bruce's best concert now in stereo, and two other fine examples, one for the first time, 3 July 2011
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With this release in stereo of the 1971 concert we can hear that Jack really was clearly continuing the exploration of what, in a 1967 interview quoted in Time magazine, he termed the 'neo-contrapuntal' style of rock - but now in a completely different direction. In the poor quality mono of the original release of the concert this was perhaps less easy to grasp in some respects.
But although this new release of the 1971 concert is far superior in clarity there doesn't seem to have been any effort made to balance the sound on the first track. The result is that Spedding's guitar is far too dominant on this number, becoming excruciatingly loud as what appears to be a not particularly brilliant solo progresses. In any case the bass is far from being loud enough by any normal standard, and that is true for all the tracks. In the old mono release the guitar is not so loud and is perfectly opposed by the bass guitar, so that the ear is equally attracted by, and of course conflicted by, both. Heard like that Spedding's 'solo' makes perfect sense - not as a solo but for what it really is, one half of a contrapuntal dialogue.
In fact the balance on the original mono release, which I have also reviewed, is just right, and for that reason I would urge any true connoisseur to buy that in addition to this. Once understood the contrapuntal tensions are conveyed perfectly well even in mono.
But at least with most of the tracks in stereo we can hear a lot of other things going on with better separation - notably Graham Bond's organ sound. Spatial separation adds an extra dimension to competing strands of counterpoint.
The stereo also comes off best in the way it reveals the extraordinary vocal capabilities of Bruce. In this concert we have the evidence that he was capable of doing in live performance some of the seemingly impossible things he could do in the studio. The Rockpalast DVD also has some good evidence. Otherwise you have to go back to some of the live Cream recordings.
The order of the set is much more satisfying on this reissue with the superb rendition of 'Folk Song' placed third after the two energetic opening numbers.

I shall continue this for the other concerts when I have time. But I have in any case already reviewed them separately in their original release.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars jazz bruce, 22 July 2009
By 
I was happily surprised with the jazz numbers on this set.It would make a fabulous album to combine these six numbers with the three last tracks on Solid Bond that also feature John Hiseman ,John McLaughlin,and Dick Heckstall Smith and make a brilliant companion to Things we like .The perfect Jazz Bruce.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 23 May 2008
Jack Bruce is one of Britain's best vocalists and a fantastic musician. This set of concerts is a must for any fan. Jack was the magic ingredient in Cream, notice how bland and plastic West Coast American the vast majority of Eric Clapton's solo output has been. The best thing Clapton has released since leaving Cream was the Cream Reunion Concert album.

There is something magical about Jack Bruce's vocals and playing that really hits the mark for me.

Buy this, it is a bargain
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unavoidable document!, 26 Oct 2014
By 
Ivan rubinic (Island Hvar,Croatia) - See all my reviews
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I can't believe that Jack died, yet!My friend announced me that before 3 hours.He was one of the best bass players,outstanding composer and singer.Gave us(me)enjoyable moments through listening his beautiful music.It is great lost for music.Thank you man for everything,for SPIRIT and more...R.I.P.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Tribute To One Of Our Finest Musicians., 20 Nov 2014
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An excellent live cross section of Jack Bruce's mainly solo album fine body of work.Have been a follower since the days of the Graham Bond Organisation,Cream ,his vastly underrated solo work and even through different era's such as his time with Bruce,West and Laing.The recordings are fine and assisted by his band of first rate musicians, here is part of his legacy for all to admire and look up to.Thanks Jack for all your remarkable music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant selection of live performances from a long time ago, 30 Jun 2014
By 
Brilliant album if you are a Jack Bruce fan. Recording quality is not top notch, as you might expect from a live performance, but that hardly detracts from the music and the performance both of which I would highly recommend. There is a great selection of work on this release and even a section of the jazz work he did with the saxophonist John Surman. Very highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 13 Nov 2014
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I decided to get this to remind me of the early years. Strange to relate I really loved the more mature voice of recent times, however it is all about the talent. With 'Cream' I felt he was the catalyst, and stimulus. Just sad that he is no longer with us. God bless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disc 3 - NOT Matrix H encoded, 13 Nov 2012
I feel i need to point out that 'mousequakes' is incorrect in stating that disc 3 is encoded in the BBC's Matrix H quad system. It isn't. Matrix H has a particular footprint, which is easy to check, and it isn't encoded.
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