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Bruford

Gradually Going Tornado (original vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

This 1980 release from Bruford features Bill Bruford (obvious, right?), Dave Stewart, Jeff Berlin and The Unknown John Clark. It has a number of instrumentals along with some songs with vocals. There are a lot of thinks here that call to mind another project of Bruford's - UK. There is some definite fusion here along with prog rock. All in all, this is an entertaining set that holds up well nearly four decades later. It should be noted that (for the sake of consistency) the review for "The Sliding Floor" used here is modified from an earlier review I did of an album which included the song.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Side One
            
Age of Information

This is a rocking number that has a lot of UK (the band) type sound. There is a good energy to it. There are also hints of King Crimson in the mix. There is some serious fusion in parts of it, too.

Gothic 17
Hard rocking at the start, this works through a powerhouse introduction. Then it drops way down to mellower symphonic prog meets fusion territory to continue. This thing is quite dynamic, working from the mellower stuff to more hard rocking. The bass on this is insane during some of the driving movements. The strings on the mellower stuff really bring something special to the number. UK and King Crimson are valid reference points here, but there is more going on that just those two things.
Joe Frazier
The bass at the start of this has some killer funk elements in play. The cut careens this way and that in a smoking hot fusion arrangement. This instrumental is a killer tune that's probably more fusion than it is anything else. While everyone really gets to shine, for me Jeff Berlin's bass generally steals the show.
Q.E.D.
There is a dramatic and a bit mysterious introduction to this. The cut turns even stranger as it continues. It works toward more of a fusion sound as it begins to resolve into more mainstream territory. This gets into some scorching hot jamming as it keeps driving onward. Again every musician here really shines on this thing. It really gets inspired and powerful as it continues making its way forward.
Side Two
            
The Sliding Floor

Rising up with a real prog rock majesty, they shift this out quickly into a rubbery fusion groove. When it moves to the song proper it’s more purely rock oriented. After the first lyrics end they take it out into a frantic and hard edged fusion jam. From there it’s back to the vocal segment again.

Palewell Park
Much mellower and very jazzy, this is a cool tune. It's an instrumental that has a lot of focus on piano and bass.
Plans for J.D.
This is another tune that makes me think of UK to a large degree. It's a quick paced cut that has both fusion and progressive rock in the mix. It's a bit more mainstream than some of the rest, but don't take that to mean that's not outside of the box, because it is.
Land's End
At almost ten-and-a-half minutes of music, this is a cool number. It's another that's not removed from the kind of thing you'd expect from UK. There is some pretty amazing bass work underway later in the track. This instrumental gets into some smoking hot fusion zones further down the road. The guitar soloing is more on the melodic end of the spectrum early but turns into more shred-worthy stuff further down the road.
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