Anyone who is wishing to get a blow by blow account, in chronological order, of one of the UK’s most respected drummers (whatever the genre) needs to find another tome as this isn’t it. Bill Bruford decided that as of 1st January 2009 he was going to retire from the world of music, and part of that involved writing what is termed ‘The Autobiography’, but to be honest should more accurately be called memoirs. Yes, there are chunks of the book that are in some sort of timely order, but for the most part Bill moves backwards and forwards through his career: at times annoyingly skating over what to the outsider appears to be an important part of his career, while at other times we get the fullest detail. The end result is less of a book, and more of a one sided conversation as the book almost seems to follow his train of thought as opposed to being printed words on a page.
In some ways I am reminded of Keith Emerson’s ‘Pictures of an Exhibitionist’ in that we don’t get the full picture, but in that instance it was because the book basically finished with the release of ‘Love Beach’. Here we have someone who has had an incredibly varied career working with three of the most important groups from the progressive rock movement and also driving forward the music of jazz and also the role of the drummer. Here is a person who was never content to conform to society’s view of a drummer of someone keeping 4/4 time at the back and staying quiet, but rather a very intelligent individual plagued by self doubt and a lack of confidence in his own ability.
I enjoyed the book immensely and it has led me to re-evaluate especially his music with Crimson, as well as seeking out some of his releases of which I was not aware. This may be too disjointed for everyone, but once you get used to the style it is absolutely enthralling.