Get this crazy baby off my head!


Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce - Shadows In The Air - 2001 - Sanctuary Records

His now-weathered visage may not be as recognizable as that of his old Cream mate Eric Clapton, but Jack Bruce's voice doesn't require much in the way of an introduction. The man with the pipes behind such '60s proto-metal touchstones as "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love" (both revisited here, with Clapton in tow, no less!) long ago left rock stardom behind, but he's still a respected bassist and vocalist who serious musicians love to accompany. Here, in addition to Clapton, he enlists the likes of Gary Moore, Vernon Reid, and Dr. John. Despite the two Cream classics and a third selection culled from his days in the short-lived '70s supergroup West, Bruce & Laing, the bulk of Shadows in the Air consists of new material cowritten and coproduced by Bruce and past collaborator Kip Hanrahan. This isn't the tossed-off stuff one has come to expect from rock stars on the comeback trail, as the likes of the anti-music-biz screed "52nd Street" attests ("Their teeth are made of sharpened gold / Though their smiles are polished white"). Stardom may be a distant memory for this erstwhile rock god, but, judging by this 15-song outing, serious music certainly isn't. © Steven Stolder, © 1996-2008, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates

Jack Bruce never became a megastar like some of his contemporaries, like Eric Clapton, but Jack, with his distinctive voice, unique bass style, and often cryptic songs has had a very successful career, maybe not commercially, but in the sense that he has created some brilliantly original rock, blues, jazz, world-music, and even avant-garde recordings. He is one of the most innovative musicians on the music scene today, constantly turning out great solo albums, and also some wonderful recordings in collaboration with other great musicians. Many of these albums have been shamefully neglected by the media. "Shadows In The Air" leans heavily on Latin rhythms, and is just another example of the versatility of Jack Bruce. Even with the Latin flavour, the sound on this album is often reminiscent of early sixties British blues and seventies jazz fusion. There are shades of early Santana, especially the rhythm section, and even Jack Bruce's great Cream. This album also features the Creme da la creme of modern day blues and rock artists, including Dr. John, Eric Clapton, and Gary Moore. This album needs to be heard by more people. Jack Bruce is one of the all time greats of blues rock, but it is often forgotten that he is also an accomplished jazz artist. As a teenager in his native Scotland, Jack took up jazz bass, and won a scholarship studying cello and composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. "Shadows In The Air" is a wonderful example of the diversity of Jack Bruce's music, and is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Check out his "Songs for a Tailor" and "Harmony Row" albums. There is info on Jack Bruce's "I've Always Wanted To Do This" album @ JBRUCE/IAW2DT and check out the BBM (Baker, Bruce, & Moore) album, "Around The Next Dream" @ BBM/ATND It is worth reading the great man's biography @ JBRUCEBIO/WIKI


1 Out Into The Fields (5:22) (with Vernon Reid)
Written-By - Laing* , West*
2 52nd Street (3:59) (with Vernon Reid)
3 Heart Quake (5:31) (with Gary Moore)
4 Boston Ball Game 1967 (2:01)
Saxophone [Alto] - Miguel Xenon
Saxophone [Tenor] - Mario Rivera (2)
Trombone - Papo Vasquez*
Trumpet - Pirro Rodriguez
5 This Anger's A Liar (3:21) (with Dr. John)
6 Sunshine Of Your Love (4:31) (with Eric Clapton)
Written-By - Clapton*
7 Directions Home (4:30)
8 Milonga (4:53)
9 Dancing On Air (4:02)
10 Windowless Rooms (5:08) (with Dr. John/Reid)
11 Dark Heart (5:59) (with Gary Moore/Reid)
Accordion - Jimmy McDonald
12 Mr. Flesh (2:13) (with Vernon Reid)
13 He The Richmond (3:19)
14 White Room (5:48) (with Eric Clapton)
Guitar, Synthesizer - Malcolm Bruce
15 Surge (1:58)


Bass - Andy Gonzalez (tracks: 4, 6)
Congas - Milton Cardona (tracks: 2 to 4, 6 to 8, 11, 14) , Richie Flores (tracks: 4, 6, 14)
Congas, Timbales, Percussion [Quinto] - Changuito Luis Quintana*
Drums - El Negro Horacio Hernandez* , Robby Ameen*
Guitar - Gary Moore (tracks: 3, 11) , Vernon Reid (tracks: 1, 2, 5, 10, 12, 13)
Piano, Organ - Dr. John (tracks: 5, 10)
Violin - Alfredo Triff (tracks: 1, 7, 8, 14)
Vocals, Arranged By, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Bass, Producer - Jack Bruce
Vocals, Guitar - Eric Clapton (tracks: 6, 14)
Guitar, Synth. - Malcolm Bruce
Alto Sax - Miguel Zenon
Written-By - Bruce* , Hanrahan* (tracks: 2, 5, 7, 8, 10 to 12, 15) , Brown* (tracks: 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14)


Most of the world knows Jack Bruce as the guy who sang and played bass for Cream, the archetypal supergroup that made a guy named Clapton into a deity and rock improvisation an okay thing to do. Cream, however, only accounts for a tiny slice of Bruce's forty-year career -- which is better represented by solo outings like this fifteen-track set of low-octane, Latin-jazz-rock grooves. Listen to the somnolent, noirish anti-ballad "Heart Quake" (a slow dance for the nightbreed that would've made the perfect soundtrack when Tim Leary's ashes got shot into space) or the speakeasy brooder "This Anger's a Liar" (featuring Dr. John on the ivories), and you'll get the point. Remodeled versions of "Sunshine of Your Love" and "White Room" can virtually be dismissed as publicity-grabbers, though old mate Slowhand pitches in with his usual high-caliber guitar slinging. Self-indulgent? Sure. But when you get to Bruce's level you've earned the right to dabble a little. © ADRIAN ZUPP, (July 9, 2001), © 2008 Rolling Stone

Bruce the Tender and Bruce the Sleek remaking his classics in a strange way? Bruce's first album of the 3rd millennium is definitely a huge step-up from the miserable synth-drenched Somethin Els, although on the whole, I count it as yet another failed attempt to really get me spiritually involved in the man's solo career. But there's something really endearing on this album, something that does pinch and prick your spirit a bit. Or maybe just... put it this way: Shadows In The Air is a record that really convinces me Bruce still got it, whichever way you prefer to understand the 'it' - I prefer to understand it in the sense that Bruce still remains a pretty talented, intelligent, and skilled musician and composer, even if he still lacks the true ability to put his talent into an entirely satisfying musical form. The album itself is rather strange. About a third of the tracks on here are remakes of Bruce's earlier classics, both from the Cream years (predictable 'Sunshine Of Your Love' and 'White Room', with Eric Clapton guest playing on them and even guest singing on 'Sunshine') and from later on (two numbers from Songs For A Tailor and a bunch of stuff I'm not familiar with). This leaves us with the burning question - was Bruce too skint on new material, so he had to rely on early efforts? After all, you know it's 2001, nobody remembers the old stuff anyway. On the other hand, this hypothesis seems unprobable seeing as how Bruce is really a prolific composer and never really had any problems with creating new songs out of nothing (quite often, that would even be a pretty exact definition). So a better hypothesis is just that Bruce was so pleased with his backing band he wanted to try a hand at the old standards. Which is all the more probable considering that it's about the best backing band Bruce ever had since Cream at least. Clapton, Dr John and Gary Moore guest on only a few of the tracks, and they're all great, but it doesn't really give one a true idea of the band's sound; neither does the guitar playing of Vernon Reid, an accomplished technician in his own rights. Most of the other musicians are of Latin origin, and that gives all the proceedings a distinct Latin flavour, but it's nowhere near a generic salsa-drenched anti-climactic odour. A few of the tracks do display serious Latin influences, but all too often, Jack has the song based on a funky riff or on a feedback-drowned heavy blues rhythm or on a moody piano accompaniment. And moreover, the good news is that the drumming being handled by Latin guys at least delivers us from the evil-sounding "post-Nineties drum sound", you know, the one which sounds okay in theory because the drummer is accomplished and all but in reality sounds tinny and flat and fake and artificial. (See Clapton's Reptile and Dylan's Love And Theft for further references). The drumming on the album is perfect, which is probably the best compliment for a 2000's album I can handle. Anyway, the general good news is the album sounds GREAT. Every song sounds GREAT - emotional, uplifting, whatever. Besides, Bruce's singing has never been better. His heartful delivery on 'Out Into The Fields' and 'Heart Quake' makes me shed tears, and really, anybody who complains about the man's vocal abilities should listen to this stuff just to get the picture of Jack's real singing, when he's not trying to use his voice as a squeaky dissonant nuclear bomb. Great drumming, great bass lines, great everything. The BAD news is that nothing is memorable. Not a single song is! Apart from the classic Cream numbers, of course, which stand head and feet above everything else and still make me wonder how after penning such top-of-the-stage melodies Bruce could have spent the next thirty years of his career wallowing in songwriting mediocrity. They're pretty well arranged and performed as well, by the way, but they're also somehow unsatisfying - they don't strain too far from the original versions to show a different interpretation, but they're notably inferior to the originals anyway. At least they don't sound like self parodies, and that's kinda nice to know, too. The newly composed numbers (mostly credited to Bruce and Kip Hanrahan, the album's producer) are quite diverse, nevertheless, and don't even hint at any kind of adult contemporary sellout of yore. Too good. '52nd Street' has a paranoid riff backing it up that almost seems to remind me of King Crimson's 'Thela Hun Ginjeet', and that's a positive association. Is this 'funk' in a certain sense? Probably it is. 'Heart Quake', as I already said, touches those chords in your heart that go straight to the center that's responsible for communication with the heavenly forces; Bruce's piano playing and singing are perfectly in accord with each other and move deep... too bad there's no hook per se. 'This Anger's A Liar' is one of those "clean-cut" "newly-polished" modernistic blues pieces that both the genre's purists and the genre's haters despise so much, but I am neither so I prop it up. Bruce is good at blues. 'Directions Home' is pretty weird in that the main piano melody seems to be playing it slow in ballad tempo, but the percussion rhythm is a fast samba! Certainly gives you some food for thought. 'Milonga' could be a throwaway ballad, but Bruce's classical, almost Chopin-like (or Bizet-like?) piano stylizations are definitely worth a listen. 'Windowless Rooms' is another blues tune that's pretty similar to 'This Anger', but with more energetic guitar. 'Dark Heart' I can only call an "Aggressive Ballad", and remark that once again Bruce tries to merge the unmergeable (soft mild piano melody with a frantic Latin beat) and manages to create something, eh, uh, artistically important, I guess (by the way, I hope you have already noticed that using the word 'artistic' is a brilliant way of getting yourself out of the dangerous situation of having absolutely NOTHING to say. "How was that song, man?" "Uh, I dunno... I guess it was ARTISTIC'. Even better is the word combination 'artistic statement', but that one should only be used in extreme cases.) Anyway, 'Dark Heart' is absolutely unmemorable even despite the Gary Moore guest solo, but interesting in an artistic way. And 'Mr Flesh' has this poppy bassline and this POPPING funky rhythm that's pretty funny. And finally, 'Surge' is just a little bit of Bruce mumbling over a drum solo. GREAT drum solo from all of these Latin dudes. I must conclude by saying I don't get the point of the album at all. If there is one, of course. If there's none, I guess it's just Jack having fun with a bunch of Latin guys. They sure met in the right place at the right time. I can only shiver trying to imagine how this stuff would have sounded in the hands of whoever recorded and produced Somethin Els. As it is, Bruce is currently in a far better position than Clapton - if he keeps it up with these guys, he's at least guaranteed to present us with entertaining production for the rest of his life. Passable, but entertaining. Best song: I could say SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, but wouldn't that reel too much of nostalgia? Overall rating = 10. © Only Solitaire, George Starostin's Reviews, http://starling.rinet.ru/music/jbruce.htm#Air


Although some may be tempted to call multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer Jack Bruce a rock & roll musician, blues and jazz are what this innovative musician really loves. As a result, these two genres are at the base of most of the recorded output from a career that goes back to the beginning of London's blues scene in 1962. In that year, he joined Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. Bruce's most famous songs are, in essence, blues tunes: "Sunshine of Your Love," "Strange Brew," "Politician," and "White Room." Bruce's best-known songs remain those he penned for Cream, the legendary blues-rock trio he formed with drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton in July 1966. Baker and Bruce played together for five years before Clapton came along, and although their trio only lasted until November 1968, the group is credited with changing the face of rock & roll and bringing blues to a worldwide audience. Through their creative arrangements of classic blues tunes like Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," Skip James' "I'm So Glad," Willie Dixon's "Spoonful," and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," the group helped popularize blues-rock and led the way for similar groups that came about later on, like Led Zeppelin. Bruce was born May 14, 1943, in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow, Scotland. His father was a big jazz fan, and so he credits people like Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller among his earliest influences. He grew up listening to jazz and took up bass and cello as a teen. After three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, he left, disgusted with the politics of music school. After traveling around Europe for a while, he settled into the early blues scene in 1962 in London, where he eventually met drummer Ginger Baker. He played with British blues pioneers Alexis Korner and Graham Bond before leaving in 1965 to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, whose guitarist was Eric Clapton. This gave him time to get his chops together without having to practice. With Manfred Mann, who he also played with before forming Cream, Bruce learned about the business of making hit songs. The group's reputation for long, extended blues jams began at the Fillmore in San Francisco at a concert organized by impresario Bill Graham. Bruce later realized that Cream gave him a chance to succeed as a musician, and admitted that if it weren't for that group, he might never have escaped London. After Cream split up in November 1968, Bruce formed Jack Bruce & Friends with drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Larry Coryell. Recording-wise, Bruce took a different tack away from blues and blues-rock, leaning more in a folk-rock direction with his solo albums Songs for a Tailor (1969), Harmony Row (1971), and Out of the Storm (1974). In 1970 and 1971, he worked with Tony Williams Lifetime before putting together another power trio with guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing in 1972, simply called West, Bruce & Laing. After working with Frank Zappa on his album Apostrophe in 1974, Bruce was at it again in 1975 with the Jack Bruce Band, where members included keyboardist Carla Bley and guitarist Mick Taylor. Again on the road in 1980 with Jack Bruce & Friends, the latter version of the group included drummer Billy Cobham, keyboardist David Sancious, and guitarist Clem Clempson, formerly of Humble Pie. In the early '80s, he formed another trio, B.L.T., this time with guitarist Robin Trower, before working with Kip Hanrahan on his three solo albums. Through decades, Bruce has always been a supreme innovator, pushing himself into uncharted waters with his jazz and folk-rock compositions. Bruce's bluesiest albums would have to include all of his work with Cream, the albums B.L.T. and Truce with Robin Trower, some of his West, Bruce & Laing recordings, and several of his albums from the 1980s and early '90s. These include Willpower (PolyGram, 1989); A Question of Time (Epic Records, 1989), which includes guest performances by Albert Collins, Nicky Hopkins, and Baker; as well as his CMP Records live career-retrospective album, recorded in Cologne, France, Cities of the Heart (1993). Bruce released Monkjack in 1995, an album of his jazz piano compositions which he performs with organist Bernie Worrell, issued on the CMP Record label. © Richard Skelly, All Music Guide