Jack Bruce is probably best known as the bass player for ’60s supergroup Cream, with drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton. But his 1969 solo album is one to remember, and so is newest album, Silver Rails.
A professor turned me onto Songs for a Tailor when I was in college. It would forever change my idea of music.
It was Bruce’s first-ever solo album and each and every single track was markedly amazing.
Mostly in conjunction with lyricist Pete Brown, he weaved intricate rock patterns fused ever-so-perfectly with jazz-riffs; it simply blew me away.
Bruce largely went under the radar in the early ’70s, but he resurfaced for a Cream reunion tour in 2005. Now, he has a brand new album, his first in a decade.
Jack Bruce, Silver Rails
Titled Silver Rails, it debuted in March on the Esoteric Antenna record label, It’s just sensational.
With the likes of Robin Trower and Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music on guitars, he weaves one of the most consistent and likeable albums I’ve heard in years.
The album opens with a jazzy and brass laden song, “Candlelight,” that features Manzanera on guitar laying down a solo that gets into the bones and suffuses the listener with warmth.
The Hammond organ adds richness, but the star of the song is Bruce’s vocals. He’s sound is unmistakable and surprisingly powerful.
The song “Reach For The Night” is a Bruce/Brown collaboration and the spoken vocals are chilling. Images of a life passing by speed to an inevitable end, filled with dread.
Derek Nash delivers a great sax solo, but again it is Bruce’s vocals and some remarkable lyrics that steal the show.
In anyone else’s hands this might be an overblown affair, all sweeping emotion and massive strings. But Bruce understates the music and the result is much, much more than just another valedictory song.
The album isn’t small or underplayed at any point but is scaled and paced perfectly to suit the song. There isn’t a moment when you feel that Jack Bruce is taking the easy route – just the right one.
Vital then … vital now.
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