The demise of Cream, widely seen as rock’s first supergroup, was a matter for mourning among their fans when they announced the decision in 1968. Many weren’t prepared to admit it was happening even when the trio released their final record, ‘Goodbye,’ early in ’69. Fortunately, the three members all started work on new projects immediately, and this day 45 years ago, we found out what Jack Bruce did next. On August 29 1969, he released his outstanding first solo album ‘Songs For A Tailor.’
Bruce had actually recorded ‘Things We Like,’ which would be released as his second album in 1970, before ‘Tailor.’ His solo career had been a long time in the making, the Scottish bass-playing virtuoso having served many years on the jazz, R&B and even pop circuits in the years before Cream’s whirlwind two years of active service.
‘Songs For A Tailor’ was produced by New Yorker Felix Pappalardi, who had helmed Cream’s second album ‘Disraeli Gears,’ the third, ‘Wheels Of Fire,’ and their final ‘Goodbye’ set. Jack’s album title was a tribute to Jeannie Franklyn, a fashion designer who had worked with Cream and was the partner of Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson, as well as having a romantic involvement with Bruce.
‘Tailor’ also continued Bruce’s writing relationship from Cream with Pete Brown, who wrote all the lyrics for the album to Bruce’s music. One of the most enduring writing relationships in music continues to this day, the pair working together again on Bruce’s 2014 album ‘Silver Rails.’
For any Cream fan who has yet to explore Bruce’s excellent, wide-ranging solo catalogue, ‘Songs For A Tailor’ is a great place to start, with elements of rock, blues, jazz, folk and much more. Its stirring ‘Theme For An Imaginary Western’ was soon covered by Mountain, the American rock band featuring Pappalardi, who brought it to the band’s attention after working on the original.
In the slipstream of Cream’s fame, ‘Tailor’ became a UK top ten album, peaking at No. 6 as Bruce’s only solo UK chart entry. Released in the US on Atco, it reached No. 55. But Jack Bruce’s career had always been about far more than chart positions, and ‘Songs For A Tailor’ remains a landmark of late 1960s rock creativity.