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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ed Bruce

See The Big Man Cry - The complete SUN and Wand recordings 1957 – 65, plus...

Review by Gary Hill

This new collection from Bear Family gathers up a lot of recordings (some that are previously unreleased) from Ed Bruce and puts them all together on one CD. There is quite a range here, and some of it works better than others for me. I think Bruce's voice is the one constant in terms of quality. He's really good, even when I don't care for the songs. There is one song from Tommy Roe at the end (for a reason I mention in that track review). Like everything from Bear Family this is a quality release with an emphasis on great packaging. In this case, that includes an extensive booklet.

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Track by Track Review
Rock Boppin' Baby
Drums start this track. A cool little groove is heard barely over the top of that. Echoey old-school rockabilly vocals come over the top. This stripped back (and particularly cool) arrangement drives the first part the tune. It powers up to more standard rock and roll stuff from the chorus, but drops back down for the next verse. This song is just so tasty. It's a great way to start things in style.
More Than Yesterday
This more of a basic slow rock and roller. It's not anything particularly unique, but it is well done.
Eight Wheel Driver
I dig the trucker rock and roll sound on this tune. It's a change from the previous tune and works well.
Ballad Of Ringo (Sun unissued)
The vocals at the start of this come over the top of just percussion. Eventually some other instrumentation rises up only barely and only in short bursts. Honestly, it's almost all just drumming and vocals from start to finish.
King Of Fools -1 (Sun unissued)
More of a standard rockabilly tune, this works pretty well.
Just Being With You (Sun unissued)
A rock and roll ballad that is based on just guitar and vocals, this is another classy cut.
Alone With A Broken Heart (Sun unissued)
This number is built on the same format as its direct predecessor. It's solid rockabilly.              
You Come To me (Sun unissued)
More balladic, this has the same concept as the last tune and feels similar to it.
Sweet Woman (Sun unissued)
Crooner meets rockabilly, this is another with a stripped back arrangement. It feels like a demo in some ways.
Baby That's Good (Sun unissued)
We're back into a full band treatment here. This rock and roller is a lot of fun. There are some particularly fiery instrumental passages here.
Part Of My Life
A doo wop tune, I don't really care for this as much I do some of the rest. Then again, I'm not a big fan of doo wop.
Sweet Woman
More of a driving rockabilly tune, this has a great energy. It's a lot of fun.
Doll Baby (Sun unissued)
This is another up-tempo rock and roller. This is fun.
King Of Fools -2 (Sun unissued)
Reminded me of the more galloping Johnny Cash music, this has a definite country angle to it.
Flight 303
More of a 50s pop vibe is in place on this song. It's a bit too fluffy for my tastes.
Spun Gold
A rock and roll ballad approach is on display here. This is not bad, but pretty dull.
(And Then) He Gave Her To Me

More of a bouncy tune, this leans toward the doo wop end of the spectrum. It's another that's solid, but not a standout.

If I Never Get To Heaven
Contemporary pop with come country in the mix is the general concept of this balladic piece.
It's Coming To Me
Now this is fun. It has a good rock and roll energy. Horns lend a bit of a jazz vibe to the cut. The guitar fills are so tasty. The vocals are great, too. There is a real soul-music edge to this.
The Greatest Man
This has a bit more doo wop sound in the mix, but it's overall not that far removed from the sound of the last one. It's another that's pretty effective.
See The Big Man Cry
More of a rock and roller, this track works well. It has some frills in the arrangement, and feels dated largely because of them, but really overcomes that via the strength of the tune.
I Won't Cry Anymore
More like a jazz ballad performance with some rock and roll in the mix, this is another winner.
You Need A New Love
We get into a full doo wop jam here. This isn't bad, but not really my kind of thing.
The Workingman's Prayer
The string arrangement on this ballad is a little over-the-top, but the song works well despite that.
Don't Let It Happen
Now, this is a more driving rock and roller that's very classy.
I'm Gonna Have A Party
This is a fun tune. It's sort of more contemporary pop than rock and roller, but it's entertaining.
Half A Love
More a soulful ballad, this is packed full of cool.
Ebb Tide
This is a song that's a bit over-produced in terms of the backing vocals and symphonic elements. It has some charms despite that, though. It's a very evocative number.
Unbreakable Heart
The arrangement is a little over-the-top on this one, too, but the hard rocking edge of this still works really well despite that. There is a cool, raw rock sound to some angles of it that is so cool. There is a real nearly psychedelic edge to this.
Tommy Roe; Save Your Kisses
This old school rock and roller is classy. You might be wondering why a Tommy Roe song (a B-side of a single, actually) is on this disc. That's because it's a song Bruce wrote.
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