Now over 70, Jack Bruce still plays live fairly regularly, and here presents us with his first solo record in over ten years. Anything but tired, these are ten cracking new songs that fans and newcomers alike will doubtless enjoy.
Silver Rails is the tale of a life well lived, warts’n’all; “…then I became someone else, I was running straight to Hell” Jack wearily intones on the melancholic Reach For The Night, co-written with his long time songwriting partner Pete Brown. Coming out the other end, Jack tells us “The shadows scare no more, I’ve come through tomorrow’s door” on this title track, in all but name. Aging, a subject close to the heart of the well-worn bass player is another theme running through this classy record “The sunshine peels on your skin, The dance of death is on its way” Jack cackles on opener Candlelight.
All but three of the songs here are co-written with Brown, who supplies sympathetic lyrics for Bruce that give the album a lived-in and reflective mood.
As you would expect, Jack is backed by a bunch of top notch musicians that includes his son Malcolm on guitar. There is of course the occasional star guest such as Phil Manzanera on Candlelight, and Uli Jon Roth on Hidden Cities, which harks back to Cream’s Deserted Cities Of The Heart, although this time Brown has not supplied the lyrics. The structure of the song is instantly recognisable as Bruce’s idiosyncratic style, no bad thing indeed!
Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake fame appears on the last two songs, and playing some good ol’ dirty blooze guitar on Rusty Lady in full on Bridge Of Sighs mode is Robin Trower. This is the only trad blues song on the record and the band cook up an effortless sizzle as it rattles your dancin’ bones with Jack telling us in defiant fashion that there’s nowt wrong with his sex drive.
No Jack Bruce album would be complete without one of his piano-led ballads, and Don’t Look Now is a fine example. Bruce’s voice, despite the ravages of time and his somewhat more than abstemious past is in fine fettle throughout. Industrial Child is another piano tune, this time the only other instrument being an acoustic guitar as Jack laments the decline of his hometown’s heavy industry, a truly poignant number.
Following this is the other “duo” number on the record. Drone is built around Jack’s fuzz bass, and backed only by the drums the song paints an oblique but grim picture of droning wartime bombers flying overhead, while below nature is in turmoil and “dogs… cannot find enough to eat”.
Bernie Marsden supplies his trademark blues funk to the cheekily Badge-like Keep It Down and slots in a nice melodic Claptonesque solo. The clue is in the title of No Surrender, which comes out punching like an unfancied but ultimately triumphant southpaw on the back of a trademark Marsden riff. Jack Bruce will keep on fighting until the last, and no doubt continue to make records that feel alive and energetic. Not for him the easy life of annual week-long residencies at the Royal Albert Hall, that’s for sure!
01. Candlelight (4:20)
02. Reach For The Night (6:19)
03. Fields Of Forever (4:35)
04. Hidden Cities (5:01)
05. Don’t Look Now (5:06)
06. Rusty Lady (5:13)
07. Industrial Child (3:40)
08. Drone (4:47)
09. Keep It Down (4:56)
10. No Surrender (3:33)
Total Time – 47:34
Jack Bruce – Bass guitar, Piano, Vocals & Mellotron
John Medeski – Hammond Organ, Mellotron
Tony Remy – Guitar & Acoustic Guitar
Winston Rollins – Trombone
Derek Nash – Tenor Saxophone
Russell Bennett – Trumpet
Frank Tontoh – Drums
Milos Pal – Djembe & Drums
Rob Cass – Percussion, Backing Vocals
Malcolm Bruce – Acoustic Guitar & Guitar
Pearse MacIntyre – Acoustic Guitar
Aruba Red – Vocals
Chantelle Nandi – Vocals
Julie Iwheta – Vocals
Phil Manzanera – Guitar
Uli Jon Roth – Guitars
Cindy Blackman Santana – Drums
Robin Trower – Guitar
Bernie Marsden – Guitar
Record Label: Esoteric Antenna
Catalogue#: EANTCD 1028
Year Of Release: 2014