Jack Bruce

At His Best

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In 1972 -- or, actually, very late 1971 if memory serves -- Atlantic Records' U.S. distribution contract for the music of Cream and its ex-members (as well as the Bee Gees) ended; a massive number of Cream and Bee Gees cutouts, Atlantic-pressed copies that could no longer be distributed and had to be sold off as closeouts, flooded the market, and there also appeared this double-LP set along with its two companion pieces devoted to Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, and a Cream set entitled Heavy Cream. As the first ever compilation devoted to Jack Bruce's work, it was welcome if slightly premature, as he only had three solo releases out at the time, and two of those had been in print for less than a year at time. At His Best is mostly assembled from tracks off of 1969's Songs for a Tailor and the then virtually new Harmony Row, filled out with one track from Things We Like. The sound was very good, the annotation almost nonexistent, and the album and its promotion probably gave Bruce more exposure and a higher profile in America than he would otherwise have had at the time, but it was also too soon for such a release. [Ironically, a couple of years later, Springboard International would, through its licensing of old tracks by the Graham Bond Organisation and the Yardbirds in exceptionally poor masterings from Charly Records, truly muddy the waters and degrade the reputation of all three musicians with a string of cheap, misleadingly titled compilations devoted to Clapton, Baker, and Bruce.]

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