Friday, November 14, 2014

All About That (Jack) Bruce: Why Dontcha

During the midst of his solo career, Jack Bruce joined yet another super group: West, Bruce & Laing. This power trio consisted of two parts Mountain and one part Cream. The impetus for the forming WB&L was the dissolution of Mountain due to bassist Felix Pappalardi’s heroin addiction. Wanting to continue the momentum started with Mountain, former members Leslie West (guitar) and Corky Laing (drums) enlisted the perfect replacement for Pappalardi – his old musical partner, Jack Bruce.

The band lasted only a short time. Three albums were produced with their debut “Why Dontcha” having the most commercial success but little critical acclaim. The third release was a live album that was issued after the WB&L had disbanded. I was excited during my senior year of high school that yet another super group related to Cream had been created. I really thought this band was going places. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Bruce is credited with playing a plethora of instruments on the album including bass, keyboards, harmonica, and other sundry items. On today’s cut, Bruce only supplies the bass. The band’s first single, “The Doctor,” which I’ve already featured in the past, was the only cut to receive a modicum of album rock airplay. The title cut, “Why Dontcha,” was released as the second single, but floundered.

The interesting thing about the “Why Dontcha” single is that its flipside did not include a West, Bruce & Laing cut – it was Mountain’s hit, “Mississippi Queen.” While smaller labels normally paired different artists on one single and even the majors paired different artists on oldies releases, it was highly unusual for Columbia (CBS) to issue two different, albeit related, artists on one disc.

Perhaps by reissuing Mountain’s biggest hit (which originally appeared on the CBS distributed Windfall label), it might generate additional interest in West, Bruce & Laing. If that were the case, it didn’t work. The album featured the power trio engulfed in waves and features Jack Bruce playing his cherry red Gibson EB-0 bass. It appears that West has a Gibson Les Paul Jr. TV Special in this photo.

When West, Bruce & Laing were reformed in 2009, Jack’s son Malcolm took his father’s place as bassist and the group was appropriately called West, Bruce, Jr. & Laing.

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