"Around the Next Dream"
The story of BBM (Baker, Bruce, Moore)
In the summer of 1993 Gary Moore received a call from former Cream bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, who needed a guitarist for a show he was to play in Esslingen, Germany, that August. Jack had just lost his then current guitarist, so asked Gary if he fancied stepping in to play the show alongside drummer Gary Husband.
“That gig in Esslingen went so well, I asked Jack if he fancied doing some writing together, because I was planning the next Gary Moore album.” “Jack would come over and would work with me during the day. I'd written some songs, but it was kinda weird because the songs were moving more his way and I was starting to think of Jack singing them.”
At the beginning of November 1993, Jack Bruce celebrated his 50th birthday with an all-star concert over two nights at the E-Werk in Cologne, featuring many of the musicians he had played with over the years, including Ginger Baker, Simon Phillips, Clem Clempson, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Pete Brown and Gary Husband, and Gary Moore was invited to take part.
Gary guested on the second night's performance. He began with Jack and Simon Phillips, playing Jack's frantic Life on Earth. Simon then began the beats to NSU and then left the stage as Ginger Baker picked up the refrain. They carried on with Sitting on Top of The World, Politician, Spoonful and White Room. It was a bravura performance by Gary – truly owning the songs, as Gary Husband observed. The years between Ginger and Jack fell away – they were as powerful as ever, and even Ginger could be spotted smiling at the back.
On their return to the writing studio, Gary and Jack continued to work on early versions of what they hoped would be future album tracks including City of Gold, Wrong side of town and High cost of loving. The project was geared towards Gary's next album, which, on the strength of the songs he was writing, wasn't planned to be another outright blues album. Gary Husband had been told that the project was in the offing and that both Jack and Gary wanted him involved. Yet the weeks went by and the drummer heard nothing, so by the time the call came to go into the studio, this multi-instrumentalist musician was committed to doing an album as Billy Cobham's keyboard player.
And from that came the most unexpected twist in the tale.
“Amazingly,” said Gary Moore, “Jack suggested we get Ginger over. I said: 'Are you sure about this?'”
Jack and Ginger had managed to get through a one-off gig with no traumas, but the pair's love/hate relationship was legendary. Could it possibly work as a band? Jack had no such qualms. “Yeah, yeah, it'll be great,” he said. “Don't worry.”
Now with Ginger Baker involved, they were looking at a very different beast. Realistically, it could no longer just be a Gary Moore solo album, with Jack and Ginger as 'backing musicians'. This would a whole new project, and thoughts turned to the possibility of it becoming a band in its own right.
With keyboard played Tommy Eyre, the musicians went into the large residential studio at Hook End, Berkshire, in early October 1993.
After running through some Cream songs to warm up, “we started putting down tracks and it was very easy,” Gary said. “There was no problem at all. It was really fun and I got a great insight into the chemistry between Jack and Ginger. It wasn't what I thought at all; they weren't at each other's throats. I think Jack really looks up to Ginger, and Ginger knows it, so he'll never tell him he's any good. They're like two brothers, just winding each other up.
As it was a band project now, they needed a name. Some of the ones they came up with were Driver's Arm, Rocking Horse, Herbal Remedy, Worldwide Cargo and Expanding Universe, among others. Nothing stuck, though, and eventually they settled for BBM – Baker, Bruce, Moore.
The album, Around the Next Dream, was released on May 17, 1994 at the start of a series of UK tour dates. The whole vibe about a possible Cream reunion, and the fact that half the songs clearly had their Cream antecedence, gave the critics ample ammunition for comments along the lines of: 'They couldn't get Eric, so they got Gary instead', which was a world away from the truth.
Gary recalled that one interviewer actually asked him: “Have you always wanted to be Eric Clapton? And now you can be?” “And then Ginger chimed in with 'Gary plays like Gary. Eric plays like Eric.'”
Jack also found the 'ersatz Cream' jibes very irksome: “We deliberately wanted to nod towards Cream. It was around the time when Oasis were copying The Beatles, so I thought: 'Why shouldn't I do a copy of me?' So, it was very deliberate, and I thought it worked very well.”
Some reviewers did buck the trend: Q magazine concluded that the album was “satisfyingly well rounded… which proves that BBM are not Cream re-formed with one notable omission, but a credible band in their own right.”
The Times: “It is an impressive record”
Kerrang magazine: “ Unsubtle, tasteful and at times genuinely emotive”
Even the ever-astringent Charles Shaar Murray, writing in Rolling Stone, felt that improved recording techniques gave this band a sound that was “bigger, cleaner, rounder and more defined than the often fuzzy, scuzzy, over-compressed Cream”, and thought Gary had out-Gibsoned and out-Marshalled his illustrious predecessor.
The album sold well in Europe reaching No.9 in the UK chart, and with plans in progress to take the band to America, after a series of European dates, then things could have progressed into something much bigger. Unfortunately, a mix of ego, emotions, politics and long held grievance's engulfed and finally sank BBM before any of those plans were realised.
So with just the one studio album, a couple of single B-sides and few officially documented live performances being the only evidence showcasing the level of musicianship involved in the project, then fans can only guess at what might have been.