[Review] West, Bruce & Laing: Why Dontcha (1972)

Calm down, Cream fans, this is just Jack Bruce replacing Felix Pappalardi in Mountain is all.

Kronomyth 1.0: The man who climbed up a trio and came down a Mountain.

Bassically, this is Mountain with layers of Cream in between. When Mountain crumbled, Jack Bruce replaced his former Cream associate Felix Pappalardi in the middle of Leslie West and Corky Laing. West, of course, was one of rock’s best guitarslingers and a solid blues vocalist to boot, but a strange sight to behold. The best that can be said of Laing is that he’s a better singer than Ginger Baker and a better drummer than Peter Criss. Add to that one eccentric English heroin addict, and you’d think that Why Dontcha would be ripe for disaster. Instead, the album continued Mountain’s winnings ways, entering the US Top 40 and generating enough interest for a followup and a live album.

Now, my interest in the trio really begins and ends with Bruce. West clearly has a boatload of talent, but the only song of his that connects with me on a deep level is “Love Is Worth The Blues.” The songs from Jack Bruce, on the other hand, are never less than interesting. I thought Harmony Row was brilliant if a bit strange, and the same genius is evident on “Out Into The Fields” and “Pollution Woman.” Bruce’s bass playing continues to be completely over the top–a holdover from the days of wine and Cream. He comes off the hinges at the end of “Third Degree,” and you don’t know whether to be amazed or appalled.

Honestly, without the Pappalardi connection, Bruce probably wouldn’t have set foot on this mountain. But he did, and gained a great guitarist in the bargain. Or, from another perspective, Mountain gained an erratic but entertaining star to pin on their power trio pedigree. Either way you look at it, West, Bruce & Laing is too interesting a combination to ignore. The end result is sort of CCR meets Cream without an obvious hit in sight, but with enough energy to make up for it.

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Original LP Version

A1. Why Dontcha (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing) (3:02)
A2. Out Into The Fields (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Leslie West/Corky Laing) (4:40)
A3. The Doctor (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing/Sue Palmer) (4:30)
A4. Turn Me Over (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing) (2:43)
A5. Third Degree (Eddie Boyd) (5:15)
B1. Shake Ma Thing (Rollin Jack) (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing) (3:14)
B2. While You Sleep (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing) (3:24)
B3. Pleasure (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Leslie West/Corky Laing) (4:02)
B4. Love Is Worth The Blues (Leslie West/Jack Bruce/Corky Laing) (4:11)
B5. Pollution Woman (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Leslie West/Corky Laing) (4:26)

The Players

Jack Bruce (bass, vocals, piano, harmonium, organ, harp, acoustical bass, ARP synthesizer, acoustic guitar), Corky Laing (drums, vocals, rhythm guitar), Leslie West (guitars, vocals, dobro, violin guitar, slide guitar). Produced by West, Bruce & Laing with Andrew Johns; engineered by Andrew Johns.

The Pictures

Art direction and design by Ed Lee. Front cover photo by Rolland Sherman. Back cover photo by Ed Lee.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and quadrophonic elpee in November 1972 in the US (Columbia, KC/CQ 31929) and the UK (Epic, S 65314); reached #26 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Australia and Germany (RSO, 2394 101) and France (RSO, 2479 111).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Germany (Repertoire).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 2008 in the US (SBME Special Markets).

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