I’ve stumbled upon lots of interesting records flipping through bins in the past year, but few made as immediate an impression as Bruce and Vlady’s The Reality. For one thing, the cover is arresting—I don’t have to tell you why, since you’re looking at it. The LP came out in Sweden in 1970, and Spanish label Vampisoul reissued it in October. The new version replicates the original jacket right down to the description on the back cover, which is written in Swedish. My grasp of Scandinavian languages is fairly weak (I know how to say “thank you” in Norwegian), but a couple words stood out in the text: “Waukegan, Illinois.”
Pianist and singer Bruce Powell, the Bruce of Bruce and Vlady, did indeed grow up in Illinois, as the liner notes to The Reality claim (he lives in Milwaukee now). His piano skills brought him to Stockholm in December 1969, where he landed a gig at the Grande Hotel. He met Wladyslaw “Vlady” Jagiello, a jazz drummer from Poland, while sitting in with a band at a rock club, and they hit it off. As a duo they started playing at a jazz spot called Klub Ernst, where they stumbled into a deal with the Svensk American label; they went on to record The Reality in just four takes.
It’s hard to pick just one cut from The Reality for today’s 12 O’Clock Track, because the album’s immersive, sprawling psychedelic experimentations are best heard as a whole. But it’s sufficiently difficult to find digital versions of these tracks online that my options are narrowed somewhat—I’ve only found one of the songs on YouTube, “Blue Variations.” When Bruce and Vlady zone out into a groove halfway through the tune, they hint at the dimensions they reach on the rest of the album. You can order physical copies of the reissue without much problem—or spend nearly $1,000 for an original LP on Discogs.