Here’s a montage video I’ve just created for the rare Lifetime non-album single ‘One Word’, recorded in New York in July 1970 and released solely in Britain in October 1970. Featuring ‘ex-Miles Davis’ alumni John McLaughlin (guitar) and Tony Williams (drums), ex-Cream alumnus Jack Bruce (bass/vocals) and Hammond organ sensation Larry Young the group should have been huge.
There were several problems, however: (1) they refused to allow promoters to use their past connections on any publicity; (2) they had three managers between the four of them; (3) they were all broke apart from Jack, who was putting a lot of his own money into keeping them together and bringing them to Britain for an extensive period at the end of 1970; (4) their music was extremely loud and extremely challenging, being somewhere between jazz, rock and ‘free improvisation’ – a high-volume cacophony – and as liable to infuriate purists of all three as it was to intrigue; (5) their recordings – two albums and this one single – were all flawed in one way or another (something diehards said at the time let alone subsequently). Lots of top jazz and rock artists claimed to have seen the most astounding gig of their lives at a Lifetime concert; equally, lots of other people found the band uncommunicative and the music unlistenable (and far too loud). At this remove, we have no adequate way to judge.