(All Album Reviews by Phil Jackson)
Following in the wake of the well received Jack Bruce box set Can You Follow?, Live 'n' Kickin' is an appropriately named 1974 remaster from the power trio that was 2 parts Mountain and 1 part Cream. Whereas a wayward cover of Jagger/Richards “Play With Fire” (with a touch of “Spoonful”)provides an outlet for Corky Laing's drumming prowess, “Powerhouse Sod” is a vehicle for Bruce's bass, still formidable despite the hard drug usage associated with the band. In between listen out for brief quotations from “Norwegian Wood” and “You Really Got Me” on “The Doctor”.
Significantly, the best received part of the set is “Politician” so there is a bit of an identity crisis for West, Bruce and Laing and, with even Leslie West doing his best to sing like Jack Bruce you begin to wonder what the point of it all was (artistically I mean!)
Having decided to stick with Cream and Mountain, I was interested to hear what the band had to offer in the studio. Unfortunately the crass cover of Whatever Turns You On says it all about the lifestyles of the musicians and, as they say, they took their troubles into work with them. There are some redeeming features, notably the Bruce- Brown composition “November Song” sounding like a remnant from the much better days of yore but even this is bogged down by the muddy sound production that not even Paschal Byrne's remastering manages to rectify. Another thing which dogs the album is how far back the vocals are in the mix. Mark Powell, in his liner notes, acknowledges the 'traumatic nature' of the album's completion, with West and Laing disappearing to the US leaving Bruce to finish the record off with guitar and drum overdubs. It's disappointing to hear a man who, post Cream, managed to create at least three fine albums in Things We Like, Songs for a Tailor and Harmony Row being left in this position. The best moments of Whatever Turns You On are already captured on the box set so this is one for completists only.
(ECLEC 2075 and 2072 respectively)
Whatever Turns You On tracklisting:
Backfire, Token, Sifting Sand, November Song, Rock 'n' Roll Machine. Scotch Krotch, Slow Blues, Dirty Shoes, Like A Plate.