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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jack Bruce

Silver Rails

Review by Gary Hill

When you are Jack Bruce, it’s a safe bet you can get your pick of musicians who want to play with you. After all, when you were one third of one of the most influential bands of the 1960s (Cream), you have some clout. Bruce has used that clout to his advantage recruiting some impressive musicians to guest here. The end result is an album that’s exceptional. It might even make my best of 2014 list. There are moments here that call to mind Cream, but there are other sections that feels different than that. It’s all quite good, though.

As to those guests. Here’s a partial list of the musicians playing on the disc: Phil Manzanera, Uli Jon Roth, Robin Trower and Cindy Blackman Santana. There are quite a few others, too. The lineup is just one attraction, though. Really the music is the main driving force here, and it’s great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Candlelight

Reggae, psychedelia and classic rock all merge here. This has a “left of center” vibe to it. Yet, it’s also quite accessible and rather catchy. It’s a cool tune, plain and simple. I love the guitar solo on this. The retro keyboard sound is a nice touch, too.

Reach for the Night
Piano starts this. It’s got a real classy, mellow vibe as the vocals (mostly spoken at first) enter. There is a jazzy vibe here. This is pretty and very tasty. It’s fairly slow and sedate, but it doesn’t lack drama or oomph. The organ solo on this just oozes cool. The saxophone solo is noteworthy, too.
Fields of Forever
Here we get a bouncy rocker. This still has some classic rock vibes to it, but overall is also a bit more modern and timeless. The jazzy jams are a great touch.  The closing one in particular is powerful.
Hidden Cities
There was always sort of a weird side to Cream. This song is tied to that element. It’s part psychedelia, part progressive rock and all cool. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll latch onto immediately. The arrangement and progression both have a bit of a learning curve. Still, this is meaty and well worth the effort and time.
Don’t Look Now
Talking about progressive rock, this piece has a real progressive rock ballad approach. Although the intensity and power of the song grows as it works forward, it remains fairly slow and mellow.
Rusty Lady
Cream fans should love this one. The main riff that drives it, and actually the whole song, makes me think of that group. It’s almost like having that band back. This might be my favorite tune here. It’s definitely a contender.
Industrial Child
Based on piano and voice alone, this is a bit odd. It’s also quite a cool song. It’s a sad one, as well.
Drone
Hard edged and fuzz-laden, this has a lot of Cream in it. I can also hear some Black Sabbath. Of course, I’d say that Cream was probably the biggest single influence on the music of Black Sabbath. So, that makes sense. This is another great tune, no matter how you see the leanings land.
Keep It Down
A blues rocker, this also has links to Bruce’s original power trio. It’s a cool rocker. While it’s got plenty of retro sound in it, there is a more modern element to the delivery, as well.
No Surrender
Another bluesy hard rocker, this one earns comparisons to Cream, too. It almost feels a bit like 1970s metallic music, too. It’s another solid one, but perhaps not as strong as some of the other stuff. For that reason, I’m not sure it was the best choice to close the set. Still, it works reasonably well in that position.
 
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