Jack Bruce

More Jack Than God

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AllMusic Review by

More Jack Than God is easily the finest studio recording the fabled bassist and singer/songwriter Jack Bruce has made since the 1970s. His outings with Kip Hanrahan and the Golden Palominos have afforded him the luxury of working with many of his collaborators this time out: Robert Ameen, Bernie Worrell, Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, Richie Flores, and most notably new guitarist Vernon Reid. Bruce's son Malcolm is also in the mix. Bruce's songwriting here is top notch. His elongated, ethereal, and funky groove as displayed on the album's opener "So They Invented Race" showcases all of his talents. It is a provocative song, riddled with Worrell's B3 and enough hand percussion to allow Bruce's bass to ride the top of the groove without seeming obtrusive. Reid jumps in on the Latin drenched "Follow the Fire," with its Carnival-esque hand percussion, Reid's restrained power chords, and Bruce's piano playing pushing the rhythm with a series of large chords that frame a melody driven by his bass. "Kelly's Blues" is positive proof that Bruce can write an expressionistic power ballad with the rest of them. His voice rings so pure and true here, writing every ounce of emotion from his lyrics. This band plays like one, not as a group of studio cats signed on for a mercenary project. They have empathy for one another and the mix is very warm and live sounding. And so it goes for the rest of the album of over 14 cuts with a vibe that is deep, earthy, sensual, and hard-hitting. Bruce's words are searing; check out the poetry in "Milonga Too." About the only thing that feels half strange here is the Afro-Cuban percussion saturating a remake of "I Feel Free," but even here, because of the deeply seductive funk in Bruce's bass playing and the blur of Reid's guitar solo over the hand percussion, it too works like a charm and feels like it was written yesterday instead of 35 years ago. More Jack Than God -- an interesting nod to "Clapton is God" from the Cream days -- is one of the more scintillating, fascinating, distinctive, confident, stimulating, and innovative recordings issued by anybody. Why the hell isn't NPR looking at this fine disc as opposed to Bleu's crappy Redhead? Bruce is seriously at the top of his game; seek this one out. Kudos to Sanctuary -- the most compelling label out there right now -- for issuing this one stateside.

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