I’m unashamedly plugging my mate on this one! It’s not generally realised, as Jeff played guitar in the Christie line -up in which I featured on bass for over 15 years – but from his 60′s pop roots with The Outer Limits (who toured with Hendrix) through to the multi-million selling”Yellow River” hitmakers Christie, Jeff was a successful bass player/lead vocalist – not to mention a great songwriter. The U.K. pop band Tremeloes ignored Jeff’s songwriting skills to their cost however, as they turned down the chance to release Yellow River and Jeff proceeded to take it to Number One all over the world himself.
The initial Christie line-up was in fact a trio with Jeff providing the pumping bass lines underneath his distinctive vocal. A victim of their overwhelming singles success with “Yellow River” and “San Bernadino”, the band struggled to recreate those sales on subsequent, more experimental releases. But a look back at the album “For all Mankind” illustrates just what a great band Christie was, particularly with regard to Jeff’s writing. The title track of the album is still a great listen. Sony recently re-released the entire Christie canon on remastered CD’s and the fantastic artist-friendly UK label Angel Air have just released a double set featuring all Jeff’s early Outer Limits recordings, plus a previously unreleased solo album from the early 80′s entitled Floored Masters.
Jeff is a great example of a bassist as an all-rounder, singer – songwriter – bandleader – hitmaker.
Check out Ray Chan’s excellent Christie site HERE.
In the early 1960′s , as popular music underwent its huge catharsis, it was not just the kids in the front rooms with their cheap guitars that would make it a force to be reckoned with. A lot of Jazz musos were crossing over, experimenting with the singles and album market that was growing almost daily. One such jazz player was a certain Jack Bruce. A jazz bassist in his teens, Bruce was playing for Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated by 1962, though on double bass. It was here he met Ginger Baker, and they went on to play with The Graham Bond Organisation, where Bruce finally succumbed to the lure of the Electric Bass. However the legendary hostility between him and Ginger soon brought proceedings to a close, and he joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he first played with Eric Clapton. After a stint with Manfred Mann, playing on several hits, he made his career-defining move, forming the ultimate power trio with Baker and Clapton; Cream. It was in the two short years between 66 and 68 that Bruce cemented his reputation as one of the greatest and most influential bassist/vocalists of all-time, his Gibson EB-3 bass becoming almost iconic. His fluid bass lines, almost solos in their own right, and rich, timbred vocals, singing the fantastical lyrics of Pete Brown, ensure that he’s still worshiped to this day.
His fondness for the Power trio never waned, and he experimented with it in several line-ups, including West, Bruce and Laing, (featuring ex-Mountain men Corky Laing and Leslie West) and BBM (Bruce, Baker and Moore, featuring the Irish guitar legend).
Following an almost fatal liver transplant, he returned triumphantly to the stage with Cream for the Albert Hall reunion concerts in 2005.
Recommended: Sunshine of Your Love – an iconic riff, a great vocal. I Feel Free – Classic Bruce!
West, Bruce and Laing: Why Dontcha? – A forgotten classic
And a note from Newm: It is certainly worth mentioning that our good friends at Esoteric Recordings in England have just released an amazing career-spanning Jack Bruce box set called Can You Follow, and having heard it, it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s got stuff that he’s done with Alexis Korner, Graham Bond, Cream, West Bruce & Laing, solo, Eric Clapton & The Powerhouse, Zappa, Manfred Mann, and more.