Bruford was a progressive rock/fusion band led by drummer Bill Bruford. Allan appears on two studio albums by the band Bruford, "Feels Good To Me" and "One Of A Kind". The core lineup for these two albums was:
Quotes on Bruford
Bill Bruford’s solo album (out this month) is the latest of Holdsworth’s projects; the featured musicians also include Dave Stewart on keyboards and an American called Jeff Berlin on bass, whom Allan spent several minutes enthusing over ("He’s a killer. He’s gonna scare a lot of people. Really lethal." ) At the time of writing secret rehearsals are going on with a new band believed to include Bruford, Holdsworth, Eddie Jobson and John Wetton. Whether this will result in a touring band, or in an album, or in both, is not known yet. Allan had been sworn to silence even regarding band personnel, and this information came from "another source". Let’s just hope it’s accurate.
Meanwhile, he is very content with the guitar sound on the Bruford album. Having experimented for years with amp arrangements and different guitars, he has now settled down with a 50 watt Marshall top, a pair of 4 x l2ins and also a 50 watt Hiwatt top. The amps have been "bodged" to increase the stages of amplification to the level of, say, a Boogie, and the signal-to-noise ratio has been improved to the point where there is virtually no hiss at all. "But also I think a lot of it is to do with that guitar.
GW That piece [Joshua] is uncharacteristically straightforward.
HOLDSWORTH: I actually had a little bit of trouble with that one. That was the only tune that I wasn’t sure about; I liked it, but I wasn’t certain that it would work for me, because it reminded me a little bit of Bruford. As soon as I started soloing on it, everything I played reminded me of ten or fifteen years ago, so I started getting really depressed really fast. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but because it was putting me in a space that I didn’t want to be back in, just because that was then and not now. But I went in and said, "Okay I’ll do it," did the solo, and, listening to it afterwards, I realize that it came out different, even though the composition still reminds me a bit of something Bill might’ve written. That was my main worry - that it would come out sounding like an old Bruford record.
Bruford. [the band]
I enjoyed that. I liked working with Bill [Bruford]. It had some carry-overs from U.K., but if I hadn’t had that bee in my bonnet about wanting to do my own thing, I would have probably stayed there.
So to Soft Machine and Gong. Given Allan Holdsworth’s links with Nucleus, with the musicians in Sunship, and later with Bruford, I long ago came to the conclusion that here was a musician very much aware of the dynasty of bands and musicians which can be traced right back to the mid-Sixties with the Wilde Flowers. Surely it wasn’t a coincidence that Allan Holdsworth first played in the Soft Machine and then Gong. And yet: "In both cases I had no prior knowledge of the bands. In Gong I knew nothing about Daevid Allen or anything else that had gone before. I don’t mean that in a bad way - I’d never heard it. Same with Soft Machine - I hadn’t heard what had happened before, which may be a good thing, because then you’re not trying to keep something alive. But there was a guy who was also a huge help to me starting out called Brian Blain, who works for the Musicians Union. He was absolutely wonderful - he helped me a lot. I think he really liked me and tried to put me in different situations. I remember we did some clinics - that’s how I met John Marshall. I guess John told the rest of the band about me, and then Brian Blain hooked up a couple of clinics with the Soft Machine, but they added a guitar player because at that time they didn’t have a guitar player.
Bill on Bruford
Bill Bruford on Allan Holdsworth and Rock Goes to College
TCG: Your CD and DVD release of Rock Goes T. College seems like good timing to speak with you about the 30th anniversary of the Bruford band, were you planning to make RGTC a 30th anniversary CD/DVD?
BB: Not really, getting stuff from the BBC is very difficult and expensive. We were just trying to make the numbers work and everybody could enjoy it. But it cost a lot of money to get that stuff from the BBC. They do a very good job so they're worth it.
TCG: Can you reflect back on working with Allan Holdsworth and all the great players in your group between '77-79?
BB: Just going back to the time, I was figuring what I wanted to do after I left Genesis in '76- ‘77 was start my own recording career. To do that you need to call some people, I found Jeff Berlin in Long Island where he was living. And I knew I wanted Allan Holdsworth. With Allan, you needed a bass player who could keep up. Against those two, you really needed a steady keyboard player who wasn't going to be a soloist so much. So Dave Stewart was the obvious keyboard choice for this thing. That was the core group, but we also added a jazz flugelhorn player here called Kenny Wheeler and Annette Peacock, who was Gary Peacock's wife, the bass player with DeJohnette. She was residing here in the U.K. at the time. So it was kind of a cool quartet with guests really. It was great. We hit if off right from the start. Allan was terrific. Around that time, America was pretty unfamiliar with Allan in the late '70s. We knew him here. And in a way, that was the bridge for Allan between the U.K. and the United States,
TCG: You wrote some cool liner notices for Rock Goes To College where you say, "what we could do with that group now!" Can you speculate what might have been the next step with the Feels Good To Me lineup with Allan Holdsworth?
BB: They were big albums and they're much talked about these days. It was great. I think that the comment in the liner notes is kind of facile probably. These things do have a moment in time when they are relevant. They were relevant in '77, '78 and '79 with U.K. and that band Bruford and everything. That was its period. By 1980 I was back in Crimson doing like electric world music. That was fine and that's the way it should be.
TCG: Allan Holdsworth left after the Rock Goes To College show from March 7th, 1979. I saw Bruford play at My Father's Place in July 1979 and we were surprised that Allan wasn't playing guitar with you anymore!
BB: Yeah, I was surprised Allan wasn't with me! When you get to know Allan, you get to know, he's a free spirit. Sometimes he comes and sometimes he doesn't.
TCG: Is there any reason why you don't work with guitar players much these days?
BB: I moved literally from electric rock to acoustic jazz, play pertly much acoustic jazz full time now with pianos, saxophones and basses. Any reason? No, not particularly. I'm more interested in people then the instruments they play. The people I want to play with right now play pianos and saxophones and basses. But hey, I spent a lot of time with guitarists, its nice to have a change.
TCG: So there's no chance of a reunion with the Rock Goes R. College lineup'? BB: No, there's no chance of that Robert. There's no more material with that band available! (laughter) I'm not sitting on boxes of material that was never released.
TCG: So will there be any more vintage material on your Winterfold label?
BB: I'm not sure, you just have to wait and see, as I will, I've probably said everything I can about Rock Goes to College, I really liked it. I loved the band. I loved being the leader of the band. I consider it a privilege to have worked with those people at that time. And of course it was my first effort, to compose music that would attract these people. To give them something to play. It's not easy to find something for somebody as good as Allan Holdsworth to play. You had to think like a guitar player, which I wasn't really doing. You need to under write because Allan's going to fill for much and that's what you want to hear. And of course, lover wrote everything. So, in a way when he got pissed off at being boxed in by the music, I think he was probably right to feel that way. In a way, I did nail him to the ground a bit, but on the other hand he was used sparingly but to devastating effect.
Check out Rock Goes to College and the the Bruford solo CDs and DVDs @ www.billbruford.com