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One Ruined Life of a Bronze Tourist

by: Col. Bruce Hampton

Album Artwork

One Ruined Life of a Bronze Tourist was originally recorded in 1978 for Atlanta’s Pine Tree Records. Terminus Records has now re-released the album, complete with three bonus tracks.

Colonel Bruce is a rare breed—he abides by no conventions or constraints. He is a cosmic time traveler…a liberator in the face of plastic, safe, easily packaged, pretend musicians.

Neither Bruce nor his eclectic music encourage those who have no sense of humor—do not misunderstand the gravity of the Colonel’s influence. In new notes for the CD release, Stanley Booth writes, “He persisted in following the beat of a drummer heard by few others. Whatever it looked like then, and I’d imagine it looked like sheer perversity, it turns out to have been a smart career move. But like all true artists, he had no choice; cursed with authenticity, he couldn’t sell out if he tried.” Later Booth writes, “Combined with his hypersensitivity to the sound of words is a vocal quality like that of a great black country preacher.”

One Ruined Life of a Bronze Tourist could be heard as a soundtrack to a psilocybin-soaked storyline from a lost science fiction film. Though complex and visually hallucinatory, and the colonel sound remains steeped in deep jazz, country, and blues origins. “Charles Patrick’s Millionaires Learn to Swing” is a one minute jazzy opening track that sets the tone of the upbeat hilarity. “Sunshine Makes Eye Contact” is pure Southern-fried blues, but there is nothing weirder or funnier on the album than “The Imposition According to Vasco Da Gamma.” “The Essentials of Tragic waste” begins with the Colonel doing a “stand-up” routine in 1976 at the Midtown Jazz Club in Atlanta, and then shifts into a tribal chant around some mystical campfire where the Colonel, a high priest of the unearthly, works his mojo.

Two gritty rhythm and blues bonus tracks, “Working On a Building” and “Ghost Alcohol Sandwich”, feature veteran Hampton troops Jerry Fields, Ricky Keller, Bill Hatcher, Jeff Sipe, Jeff Mosier, and Oteil Burbridge.

The Colonel remains in a class by himself, and One Ruined Life of a Bronze Tourist is a classic—a bizarre musical journey into outer space and partway back.

-James Calemine

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