Bruce Foxton

Back in the Room

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Bruce Foxton has always lived in the shadow of the Jam or, more specifically, Paul Weller, his former friend and bandmate who left him in the lurch when he split up the punk trio at the height of their powers in 1982. Foxton released a solo album called Touch Sensitive in 1983, but had trouble gaining traction on his own, so he headed on out to Stiff Little Fingers, where he stayed for 15 years. After a Jam reunion looked like an impossibility when Weller made a smashing comeback in the '90s, Foxton assembled the tribute band From the Jam with drummer Rick Buckler, a move that upset Weller and made frosty relations even chillier. But life is messy. In 2009, Foxton lost his wife Pat to cancer, and Weller lost his father, two life-changing events that sparked a reconciliation between the bandmates, leading to Foxton appearing on Paul's 2010 album Wake Up the Nation and in 2012, Back in the Room, Bruce's first album in nearly 30 years, and one that features Weller on several songs. Often, it sounds as if Weller is all over Back in the Room, which is partially due to the striking vocal similarities of Foxton's lead singer Russell Hastings -- he was the frontman in From the Jam -- but also in how Bruce has designed the album as something similar to Paul's '90s work. Sure, there's an element of latter-day Jam here -- the Tamla/Motown bounce of "Reflection" could have fit onto The Gift -- but this is muscular trad rock -- Beatles hooks as played by Humble Pie, taking a brief respite from the heavy soul to indulge in pastoral folk. It may be familiar but it's executed sharply; Foxton and his band seem invigorated by playing new material and those new songs are solid, holding their own next to Weller's late-'90s work.

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