What did they do next – part 15a – Bill Bruford – 438

Bill Bruford
Bill unveils the 50th Anniversary Plaque in the exact place the band was founded!

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

As I’m officially on leave this Friday and next, there no time for news I’m afraid but there was time for a great discussion between Mark and me about what Bill Bruford did next after leaving Yes following the end of the Union tour. Almost immediately, he recorded a live album with his band, Earthworks.

  • What is Earthworks all about?
  • Is Bill’s favourite music jazz not rock?
  • Melodies on the drums – how does that work?

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

6 replies on “What did they do next – part 15a – Bill Bruford – 438”

Yes – I remember some folks feeling a bit unsure these players should be doing this kind of thing. Not sure myself…

Masses I could comment about on this one, but I’ll be (relatively) restrained. 😉

First off, I’ve gone into some detail on Bill’s relationship with Yes (a kind of love/despair one) in my new article on the website connected to my book, here:

(I was actually finishing another one off last night, when I listened to YMP. But I was too interested in your exchange not to switch and do something arising from that…)

Quite a bit of what I’ve written relates to why jazz is so much more congenial an environment for Bill than rock. I suppose it must be obvious that I agree with him. My love of Yes is rather counter-intuitive to where most of my musical interests are these days, but it persists!

On Earthworks. Well, I’ve got everything they recorded, saw them ten times live, and wish it had been much more. Again, no surprises there. Mark’s intro to phase one of the band is interesting. Bill did indeed use the chordal elements of Simmons to trigger melody and harmony, but he’s also just as involved in the rhythm. In rock, rhythm is usually see as a ‘section’. In contemporary jazz, it’s distributed. Also, since it’s more complex and layered, everyone has an investment in it. That’s certainly true of Earthworks. I prefer the later, acoustic version overall. But the early days were fascinating. The players Bill worked with are on another level altogether, using and developing a language way in advance of what he was doing in Yes, and to an extent Crimson too – though there are more affinities with the latter. The best, succinct intro to what ‘Stamping Ground (Live)’ is about is is this Innerviews interview with Bill here: I also quote it in my piece. This was published exactly at the juncture you describe – moving straight to Yes (an easy and slightly boring gig for him, tbh) to Earthworks (a steep hill climb by comparison) within a matter of days. That’s perhaps reflected in his rather acerbic comments.

On your ‘two pence’ – for me the most important recent releases related to Yes recently are the Bruford and Banks archival ones, with much previously unreleased or uncompleted material. I’m looking forward to delving into Wakeman’s ‘The Red Planet’ next. Not sure what I’m feeling about the new Steve Howe album (the initial track was a little plodding for me, and the Trio one a little too easy listening…) But what’s great, as you say, is that these guys are still wanting to be creative. As you also say, hopefully that can go into the mix for a new (final?) Yes album, drawing on the undoubted skills of Billy and Jon D. No disrespect to Alan, but I really think they have to use Jay fully this time, to pick up the energy and edge. And wouldn’t a slot for Patrick be great? Can’t see that happening, sadly… but you can never say never with this band!

Thanks again for another stimulating episode…

Thanks Simon. I’m very much looking forward to listening to the live album. I wonder if I will understand/enjoy any of it…

PS. The best succinct source on Tim Harries, who is a phenomenal bass player, is here:

I agree with you about ‘Symphonic Music of Yes’ being hugely disappointing. Probably another one Bill would prefer to forget.

(By the way, there’s one he hates even more than ‘Union’ I believe. A session job which he later described as “prostitution” for Absolute Elsewhere. It’s a shocker. They gave him a credit without permission. I bought a vinyl copy years ago, and paid a fair whack because it was rare. Easily the worst album in my collection…)

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