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Class ?

Main Category: Art Rock
Also applicable: Jazz Rock, Psychedelia, Hard Rock
Starting Period: The Artsy/Rootsy Years
Also active in: The Interim Years, The Punk/New Wave Years,

The Divided Eighties, From Grunge To The Present Day




Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Jack Bruce fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Jack Bruce fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

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Coming soon.



Year Of Release: 1969
Overall rating = 10

All of this piano stuff is cool and queer, but much too lightweight. And where's the usual catchiness?


Track listing: 1) Never Tell Your Mother She's Out Of Tune; 2) Theme For An Imaginary Western; 3) Tickets To Water Falls; 4) Weird Of Hermiston; 5) Rope Ladder To The Moon; 6) The Ministry Of Bag; 7) He The Richmond; 8) Boston Ball Game, 1967; 9) To Isengard; 10) The Clearout.

Jack's solo debut wasn't exactly the most predictable album in the world - and it sounds nothing like the classic Cream sound you're used to. But if you dig a little deeper and remember 'Doing That Scrapyard Thing'... you get the idea? That song actually served as a blueprint for quite a large share of the tunes on here. Without Eric to kick around any more, Jack almost completely drops all the heaviness and bluesy riffage that made Cream so prominent: there ain't a single memorable riff on the record, hell, there's not that much guitar, in fact. Instead, Jack dominates the album with himself: besides the usual bass and singing, he also gets the credits for most of the piano and organ playing, and many of the songs are entirely keyboard-based. Meanwhile, guitarist Chris Spedding makes every effort to not let his own instrument get too noisy, loud or attention-attracting, and the only thing that significantly adds to the newly-found formula is a compact brass section that makes its appearance on a bunch of tracks, comprising, in particular, Jack's old Graham Bond Organization pal Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophone.

So about the only two things that permit us to tie Songs with Cream are the trademark Bruce vocals and the trademark nonsensical lyrics, as usually, penned by Pete Brown. This time, though, they're not even vaguely interesting - for the most part, Brown goes off into obscure Dylan plagiarizations ('The Ministry Of Bag') or boring, pretentious 'progressive' stylizations ('To Isengard' - a Tolkien reference, in case you haven't noticed). A pity, as I have always thought better of Pete Brown than is the usual norm: his colourful lyrics always added to the psycho atmosphere of Cream. Here, I simply don't notice them, not to mention that psycho lyrics do not really fit in with the album's music which has entirely lost all the psycho flavour with the departure of Clapton.

Fortunately, there's still much to laud about the album. Yes, the ten songs on here are somewhat hard to digest: the melodies aren't particularly obvious or catchy, and much of it smells of avantgarde jazz which I never favour unless it's Frank Zappa we're speaking of. And the record gives the impression of having been spat out in far too little time: the production almost seems like a ten-step regress from Cream's usual 'well-polished' approach. The sound is not only thin - it's painfully lightweight, almost kitschy, so that it's really hard to take Songs into serious consideration. After all, have you ever tried seriously considering 'Doing That Scrapyard Thing'? I'd sooner seriously consider some of the Monkees.

But don't despair! Here's the good news you've been waiting for. The tunes are all short; only 'Isengard' goes over five minutes, and most of the others rarely exceed three. So if something bothers you particularly, you may be sure it'll soon go away. Jack's singing is quite all right, too; I sometimes miss his tripped out falsetto, but he presents himself in excellent form even without the falsetto. And, finally, many of the tunes really grow on you. This is, in fact, the place where you'll meet one of Jack's most famous ever pieces - 'Theme For An Imaginary Western', a gorgeous organ-and-piano-driven ballad that has little to do with westerns but brandishes a certain 'humble majesty' a la Procol Harum; actually, it sometimes reminds me of an inferior version of 'Whiter Shade Of Pale', and Jack even sounds similar to Gary Brooker. The song was later popularized by Mountain, too.

The song might be the most well-known on here, but I personally prefer a couple others. 'Tickets To Water Falls', for instance, a somewhat gloomy, sombre shuffle distinguished by some tasty, soothing licks that Chris Spedding plays on his guitar in between the chaotic verses. And if you have a minute of spare time, please pay attention to Jack's bass playing on that one; the bass lines are simply superb. I won't go as far as to say that Jack is equal to John Entwistle because he's not, but I tell you, the main problem is that he's never bringing his bass as loud as the mix as the dear old Ox used to do, so it's hardly ever noticeable unless you really pay attention. On with the show: 'Weird Of Hermiston' has the best lyrics on the album (in which case 'the best' equals 'the only worthwhile'), although I still can't understand what kind of problems does the 'weird of Hermiston' really experience. Is he lamenting a lost love or an unfound one? Who can tell?

Never mind. 'Rope Ladder To The Moon' is the best song on here, no doubt about that. It's a bit similar to 'As You Said' off Wheels Of Fire, but it's much better cuz it manages to take the 'distorted violins' trick and make it actually rock. I mean, it doesn't sound like a mantra: it's an energetic acoustic rocker punctuated by grim cellos (played by Jack himself). Nay, I don't really know why it's the best track. Maybe I've been deceiving you. I suppose it all comes back to the accursed cellos: there are no more cellos on the record, and this makes the song unique in its own way. Well, I like the guitar melody, too.

Everything else is completely forgettable, but enjoyable as a relatively successful jazz/folk-rock noodling. At times, Jack comes close to 'predicting' CCR's sound on Pendulum: 'The Ministry Of Bag' has the brass section churn out the same melody as the above-mentioned band's 'Born To Move', for instance. And 'He The Richmond' has another cheerful, bouncy acoustic guitar melody that'll make you absent-mindedly tap your feet.

The only relative 'rocker' on the record comes at the very end ('The Clearout'), with a bit more distorted electric guitar than is the regular standard; seeing as it is completely lost behind the overblown shadow of 'Isengard', though, it doesn't ascend to very much. Oh, and did I mention a pointless dissonant avantgarde half instrumental bunch of noises yet ('Boston Ball Game, 1967')?... In brief, a fascinating record. If you fall for the atmosphere, you just might get to like it. Me, I think it'll take me a couple aeons to get used to it, but why not? Humanity is not in that much of a hurry, and after all, we'll have plenty of time in the new millennium. Way to go, Mr Bruce.



Year Of Release: 1970
Overall rating = 9

Did they name the album this way specially in order to irritate ME?

Best song: HCKHH BLUES

Track listing: 1) Over The Cliff; 2) Statues; 3) Sam Enchanted Dick; 4) Born To Be Blue; 5) Hckhh Blues; 6) Ballad For Arthur; 7) Things We Like.

Whatever did Jack Bruce leave Cream for? One of the most deft, progressive and influential bands of the decade? Well, if you ever had any questions like these, the answer's right here before you. He left it so that he could team up with a bunch of jazz oriented guys and dick around as if he were an acolyte of Miles Davis.

Okay, seriously now, this rating that you see posted here doesn't mean a goddamn thing. Things We Like, for all I know, might be a seriously underrated stunning jazz masterpiece. The problem is, it's a jazz album. It's not even jazz-rock: it's pure jazz, and I don't know jack about jazz, let alone Bruce. I might as well just shut up here, but I'm gonna ramble on all the same, and then you can flame me for all you want. After all, so many people keep asking me why don't I review jazz on this site, and here's my chance to give a detailed answer. On the example of this album.

Things We Like was officially released as late as 1970, but in fact, it was recorded in August 1968, that is, while Cream were still an officially functioning unit - but only formally. The title itself is kinda arrogant, showing us that this, not the Cream philosophy, was the kind of thing Jack really was fond of at the time. Essentially, the album is just culled from a short jam session that took place at IBC studios between Jack, guitar god John McLaughlin, Jack's former Graham Bond Organisation colleague Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax) and drummer Jon Heisman. The latter two formed Colosseum a year later and went on to produce music far more interesting and inventive than the stuff reviewed here, but that's beyond the scope of the actual review, I suppose. Anyway, the four just got together and played some jazz. 'Modern jazz' - with plenty of dissonance and jagged, tricky time signatures, but not really 'avantgarde jazz', because for the most part, this is listenable material.

It's just that I have serious problems finding reasons why I should listen to it in the first place. For the defense first: it goes without saying that the playing on the album is professional to the extreme, to the unbearable even. Heisman is a prolific and creative drummer, not interested in just keeping up the rhythm but at the same time more 'modest' and less extravagant than Ginger Baker. Heckstall-Smith is portrayed on one of the inlaid photos playing an oboe and a saxophone at the same time, and I seriously believe that's not a hoax as at certain times I do hear something like an oboe and a saxophone playing together, and it doesn't really seem as if these guys ever bothered to do any overdubs. So you can judge by yourself about the guy's potential versatility. McLaughlin is McLaughlin - I won't dare to even begin badmouthing the guy who made it possible for the guitar to sound like a saxophone (ah, heck, if only somebody would teach the saxophone to sound like a guitar). And Bruce, likewise, is Bruce; for purist reasons, I guess, he sticks to string bass throughout, and for the first listen, it's a real gas to hear him tear through those strings - and it's particularly funny when you remember how he performed the same tricks on electric bass during Cream jam sessions. Talent is talent.

For the prosecution - this music doesn't move me. Not one bit. It all sounds essentially the same, even despite some slight variety in instrumentation. McLaughlin doesn't appear until the third track (was he late in the studio or what?), and it's him, I suppose, who contributes the most variation, as his guitar tone ranges from trademark 'playful' jazz to a somewhat aggressive bluesy tone, particularly on 'Hckhh Blues', which for me is the best track on the album, if only because it is certainly 'bluesy' in its first part. Funny, isn't it, that as soon as the guys switch from hardcore jazz to a more bluesy ambience for a couple minutes, my interest perks up so immediately? There's, like, something in the air at that time - emotion, a little bit of menace, a little bit of urgency, something vital, if you get my drift. But then they just go on to more jazz. So, apart from that track, the only thing that kinda stands out in my mind is the title track, where Heckstall-Smith plays a few well-developed moody sax riffs nicely countered by McLaughlin's gentle chords; it's milder than the rest and forms quite a natural and slightly sad conclusion to the whole experience. A conclusion that's hardly worth the wait, though, in my opinion.

One thing is - how are these tracks supposed to be different? They change key so often I have not the least idea of when exactly they switch from 'Statues' to 'Sam Enchanted Dick' (yeah, that's a real title) and so on. It's all just pointless jazz noodling to me with no effective mood settings and no memorable melodies either. I was kinda hoping that McLaughlin would contribute a few wall-rattling solos to compensate for all the wrongs, but no way: he's in surprisingly timid mood, never really allowing himself even an ounce more energy that is apparently required by the particular genre's "rules" (which is, close to none - or at least, just as much as is needed to actually produce some notes).

My only consolation is that, little as I know about jazz, Things We Like is not an exemplary jazz album, and can hardly be counted as such even by diehard jazz fans (at least, I hope so). I've heard some jazz, and I know jazz can be more involving than this. It doesn't help that the production sucks, either - it almost sounds as if all of them were recording their instruments through the same mike and never really bothered to mix the album at all. It's... well, hell, it's just an album about some things that Jack Bruce seems to like. Like parking out in the country and eating mashed potatoes with his hands while sharing 'em with a pack of hounds. You know, that kind of thing.



Year Of Release: 1977
Overall rating = 10

Jack's glam album - he makes some sweeping grandiose moves on that one, but it's not too clear where he's heading for.


Track listing: 1) Without A Word; 2) Johnny B '77; 3) Times; 4) Baby Jane; 5) Lost Inside A Song; 6) How's Tricks; 7) Madhouse; 8) Waiting For A Call; 9) Outsiders; 10) Something To Live For.

By 1977, Jack had already switched several bands and more than a few genres and styles, apparently either feeling uncomfortable with every single one of them or considering that it was always time to 'move on'. The project that he undertook this time was perhaps his most flashy and self-indulgent ever, and it's no small coincidence that the record is presented under the title 'The Jack Bruce Band And His Musical Extravaganza'. The band itself is Simon Philips on drums, Hugh Burns on guitar and Tony Hymas (future Jeff Beck adept) on keyboards, but what's in a name? It's the style that's important. The inlay photo in my CD presents the band with wonderfully 'arranged' hairstyles and all in shiny white outfits, and if anything, it's Queen they mostly resemble on there. And not a coincidence, either: some of the songs on the album do remind me of Queen's better (sometimes worse) material. Even if they do use synthesizers.

Overall, Jack goes for a rich sound texture - overdubs, swooping orchestration and wall-of-sound trickery abound on here, and the couple of numbers that are relatively stripped down, like the title track, don't really matter much. The obvious impression is, well, to that the album is made to impress - naturally, it should be played at full volume, with a perfect pair of speakers, and preferrably in an arena: this is arena-rock at its most arrogant. The very idea might not be as off-putting as it could be to people that cringe at the very expression 'arena-rock' (and sometimes I do identify myself with these people), as the songs are quite entertaining and at least they are not full of machism or something; the problem is, there's little on here that makes the album really stand out.

In other words, I fully enjoy much of the material while it's actually playing - but it's been kinda frustrating to keep noticing that I can't ever remember anything from here once it's over. The only "rockin'" tune that repeated listenings have managed to jam into my head is the defiant, powerful boogie of 'Baby Jane' (NOT to be confused with the same-named Rod Stewart atrocity); for some reason, the nearly-obnoxious refrain ('keep on holding on baby Jane...') has been pursuing me for the better part of this week. I also enjoy Hugh Burns' minimalistic, but wonderfully effective guitar solos on the number.

As for the other songs, attention must be drawn to 'operatic', anthemic chants complete with synthesized orchestration and mammoth energy, over which Jack wails and howls like a powerhouse. These are the cases that really showcase the wonders of his voice for me, not the half-drunken rambles at his Cream concerts: 'Without A Word' and 'Lost Inside A Song' are, without a doubt, the obvious highlights of the record and some of the best songs he's ever written or performed. Both follow more or less the same formula: a slow build-up from an emotional, romance-style chant to a forceful, gargantuan, climactic chorus that'll definitely keep you up on your feet once you really paid attention. The feeling is especially strong on 'Lost Inside A Song', but 'Without A Word' seems to be a bit stronger in the way of melody, so it gets my vote as best song on the album. I strongly urge you to notice these songs if you ever get the record - they might seem generic at first, but they really grow on you, and Jack's singing has really never been better.

Apart from that, of particular notice are the album closer, 'Something To Live For', a nice, soothing ballad with impressive workouts by Tony - some more delightful synth crescendos, and I'm also fond of the title track, a weird, reggaeish shuffle with a strange pessimistic feel about it. But it's not that these songs really stand out: they're cute, that's all. And for my personal tastes, there's too much generic rock'n'roll stuff on here, same old dull mid-tempo rockers with artificially pumped out energy. 'Johnny B. '77', 'Madhouse', 'Outsiders', all of these things are throwaways; I guess that 'Baby Jane', which is actually the most 'pumped-up' track among these, is a throwaway too, even if it managed to earn itself a particular place on some rack in a far away corner of my overloaded brain. The guys really try to sound like they're incredibly cool and hip, but instead they're just losing it. And by 'losing it', I don't mean that these bombastic 'mid-hard-rockers' sounded out of fashion in 1977; I suppose they were quite fit for the average 'rock-lovin' public. After all, this fits somewhere in between Queen and Aerosmith, so why pretend that this is 'old fart' music? It isn't. It's just not terribly profound or, hell, not a bit useful. Add to this that the sparks don't really ignite until Bruce hits it with all his might on the operatic numbers described above, and you've got yourself a pretty dull chore to sit through.

Nevertheless, I agree with Wilson & Alroy that there's nothing offensive about the album, and I easily award it an overall rating of 10. For my money, no Jack Bruce Greatest collection should be ever complete without 'Without A Word' or 'Lost Inside A Song', either; the album is worth owning if only for these two minor masterpieces. And it'll never ruin your nerve system; no, no, in spite of everything I've said, be prepared for forty minutes of enjoyment, unless you're in the punk camp and can't stand artsiness or mid-tempo at all. And if you want some Cream reminiscences, throw on the convincingly rendered blues number 'Waiting For The Call' and just bask in the glow of Jack's trusty harmonica.



Year Of Release: 1993
Overall rating = 8

A dull collection of modernistic tunes that alternate between adult pop and pointless experiments... that's about it.


Track listing: 1) Waiting On A Word; 2) Willpower; 3) Ships In The Night; 4) Peaces Of The East; 5) Close Enough For Love; 6) G. B. Dawn Blues; 7) Criminality; 8) Childsong; 9) FM.

Bah. Technically speaking, this record is as close to a Cream reunion as possible; after long years of separation, Jack has, once again, teamed up with Pete Brown who contributes some bombastic, but not too exciting, lyrics; and not only that, he's managed to draft Eric Clapton in the studio to play lead guitar on many of the tracks (although Eric never gets around to do any singing). Moreover, the list of credits even includes Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack's long-time partner in the Graham Bond Organization. With all these dudes hanging around, you'd think Somethin Els was going to be a nice retro throwback to the days of old...

No way. Yeah, Eric is here, all right, but that doesn't mean he's brought his old Cream style with him - and most of the solos are pretty dull, in his by now traditional thin-pitched, soulful style that on this particular occasion sounds completely generic and uninspiring. The lyrics are mostly forgettable. And the worst blow is that the production values are pure Nineties music - echoey effects on the guitars and keyboards, layers of unimaginative synths, electronic drums, all that crap.

But even these things would be tolerable, if only Jack had bothered to come up with any interesting melodies. As it is, the record drags along at such a ridiculously slow, lethargic, and monotonous tempo, that I personally caught myself falling asleep on it for about five or six times in one go. And the numbers seem to be more or less equally split in between three genres: (a) Nineties-updated blues/R'n'B ('Willpower'; 'G. B. Dawn Blues'); (b) bombastic, operatic ballads ('Waiting On A Word; Close Enough For Love'), occasionally bordering on cheesy ('Ships In The Night'; 'Childsong'); (c) horrendous 'experimental' numbers ('Peaces Of The East'; 'Criminality'). Completely out of ideas, Jack finishes off the record with a three-and-a-half-minutes piece of classical piano improvisation that's as blatantly amateurish and useless as possible. Imagine my disappointment.

Now that the categorization has been made, I'd like to give a bit more detailed runthrough through the material (hmm... I wonder if it's possible to say what I just said... then again, I can always pretend my English leaves a lot to be desired). To be honest, and to justify the rating of eight, I must say that a couple of ballads on here are really good. That is, 'Close Enough For Love' is way too operatic for a lot of people to truly appreciate it, but I must say that Bruce pulls off the bombast with enough credibility - his voice is just as fabulous as ever, and his singing in the verses is perhaps the most cathartic moment on the record. As for 'Waiting On A Word', I just like the tune's upbeat character: more great vocals, some inspiring Clapton licks and cheerful handclaps all contribute something to the sound, even if it's hardly essential. On the other hand, the French-pop-influenced, melancholic/melodramatic 'Ships In The Night' with its violins and female backup vocals was just made for MTV; I loathe the number, and not even Clapton's participation on that one can save the song. And when Maggie Reilly steps in to duet with Jack, beh... all hopes of Cream reunion are lost.

It's more soothing when we move on to the more rockin' material - for instance, 'Willpower' grooves along nicely to the sounds of a stingy guitar riff and a steady, powerhouse beat. But when one stoops to think about it, the song emerges as just another generic soul number a la modern Joe Cocker - recycled stuff that's oh so characteristic of washed-up Sixties' icons. The far shorter and less mastodontic 'G. B. Dawn Blues' is far more interesting, for that matter, if only for the warp-speed synth riff that underpins the simple bluesy pattern of the number. Come to think of it, only for the warp-speeded synth riff...

And the 'experimental' numbers? They're plain ugly. Think Frank Zappa's most dull atonal jams with Nineties' production values. 'Peaces Of The East' does sound a bit Easternish, but essentially it's just a couple synthesizer riffs imposed over each other and nonsensical lyrics that often get tape-looped to the effect that you feel something's wrong with your CD player (ooh, I hate it when artists come up with mystifications such as these!) And 'Criminality' is structured as a 'complex dance number' with more tape loops and silly excerpts from radio interviews thrown in.

In all, when the record comes to an end, you'll be completely exhausted - even if it's just forty-one minute long. No amount of listening has been able to change my opinion of it; apart from the tracks showcasing Bruce's voice and some tiny moments, the stuff is just plain crap and to me, amply demonstrates that Bruce was heading in a completely wrong direction at a time. Strange enough, there are many people who actually like this, calling this the finest batch of tunes Jack had thrown out in quite a bit of time or something like that... dammit, some people are hard to understand. Failed experimentation and lots of boring cheese, mostly that. Gimme How's Tricks over this - any time of day or night.



Year Of Release: 2001
Overall rating = 10

Bruce the Tender and Bruce the Sleek remaking his classics in a strange way?

Best song: I could say SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, but wouldn't that reel too much of nostalgia?

Track listing: 1) Out Into The Fields; 2) 52nd Street; 3) Heart Quake; 4) Boston Ball Game 1967; 5) This Anger's A Liar; 6) Sunshine Of Your Love; 7) Directions Home; 8) Milonga; 9) Dancing On Air; 10) Windowless Rooms; 11) Dark Heart; 12) Mr Flesh; 13) He The Richmond; 14) White Room; 15) Surge.

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.


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