When you're a drummer playing behind the vocal heights of Jon Anderson, the guitar virtuosity of Steve Howe, or the keyboard genius of Rick Wakeman, you may expect to be disregarded from time to time. Aside from die-hard fans of Yes or King Crimson, Bill Bruford's drumming is taken for granted more often than not, when in fact he's one of the finest rock drummers to emerge from the era. Master Strokes: 1978-1985 is a well-assembled compilation of some of Bruford's best drum work, spanning numerous styles and examples of percussive artistry. All 14 tracks explore the many sides of Bruford's repertoire, delving into jazz fusion, straightforward rock, and progressive rock, and laying out some entertaining examples of how much fire the drums can truly muster, not only in their bombastic state, but also as an accompaniment to other instruments and rhythms as well. Taking tracks from Feels Good to Me, One of a Kind, and Gradually Going Tornado, this collection stands as one of the best offerings of his solo work; from the attitude-laden "Hells Bells" to the steady flow of "Travels With Myself and Someone Else" to the imaginative "Fainting in Coils," every aspect of Bruford's percussive talents are covered. "The Drum Also Waltzes" and "Gothic 17" are two of the best out-of-the-ordinary cuts, exhibiting both hard and soft styles of drumming and cymbal playing. Presenting twice as many tracks as The Bruford Tapes, Master Strokes: 1978-1985 makes for the best one-stop for those who want to hear Bruford playing to his own ideas, tempos, and genres.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne