Jack Bruce Composing Himself
Harry Shapiro
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Buy *Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorized Biography* by Harry Shapiro online

Jack Bruce Composing Himself: The Authorized Biography
Harry Shapiro
Jawbone Press
320 pages
March 2010
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Though Jack Bruce will always be most well-known for his groundbreaking work with Cream, his body of work extends into areas of jazz, classical, funk, and hard rock. He has released many, many albums and worked with a litany of musicians, and not much is really known about these various projects and the music he wrote for them. Which is precisely why a book on the bassist/singer/writer has been so long anticipated: finally, the tale could be told.

Unfortunately, this is not that book.

There are so many holes and straight-up mistakes here that it's difficult to believe any of it. Musician's names are misspelled [it is Anton Figg, not Anton Fier] as well as the names of places [it is Continental Hyatt House and not Hyatt Hotel]. These are unforgiveable mistakes. Simple research should have eliminated these types of Writing 101 errors.

The author was given access to Bruce himself, and that should have insured a wonderful read. But the quotes from the musician - aside from a section on Jack's drug addiction which does fill in some spaces - seem to be tired. Much of the history here is taken from online material and quotes from previous interviews.

Why would the writer use old interviews when he had the source in front of him? Why didn't he talk to Jack about writing songs for Cream? Why didn't he try and dig deeper into the chemistry - or lack thereof - among the three members? The entire section on Cream sheds very little new information.

This is simply not a terrific book on one of the most influential and creative musicians who ever strapped on a bass. Shapiro touches on crucial elements - Jack's falling out with longtime writing partner Pete Brown - but barely talks about it. The author has written several earlier books and is no newcomer, but he misses it with this one and that's a shame. No one will ever have the opportunity again of interviewing Jack Bruce so extensively, and what we're left with are several hundred pages that just barely scratch the surface of one of the world's greatest artists.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2010

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