Ex-Cream bassist reflects on the meaning of life with a rusty old bike in a forest
Out Of The Storm was the fourth studio album by Jack Bruce and true to form, one of his most eclectic and inspired. Released in 1974, following the disbandment of West, Bruce and Laing, another power trio who somehow failed to capture the attention they deserved, Bruce, in the midst of heroin addiction, assembled a new group, one which included Steve Hunter (guitars), Jim Keltner (drums), and Jim Gordon (drums), with all other instruments being played by Bruce himself, namely piano, clavinet, organ, harmonium, harmonica, and off course electric bass. Drug dependency aside, one couldn’t accuse the man of musical indolence.
The record gets off to a great start with “Pieces Of Mind”, a song which harkens back to some his earlier albums, circa Songs Of A Tailor and Harmony Row. Bruce sings and plays like a fallen angel, as Jim Gordon and Steve Hunter compliment the arrangement perfectly. The reflective “Golden Days” sees Bruce exorcising his inner choir boy, whose greatest wish is merely to seek “shelter from the cold”. It’s a song I’m sure Bowie might have enjoyed, and one which would not have seemed out of place on Aladdin Sane.
“Running Through Our Hands” is about as close to a pop song as one is ever going to get from ol’ Jack, and reminds this listener of something Steely Dan may have written under the affects of LSD. There is the disco-fusion of “Keep On Wondering”, followed by the funky “Keep It Down”, obviously an attempt by Bruce at writing something for FM radio. “Into The Storm” has an almost Broadway theatrical feel to it, where he repeats the line “I’m gonna make it by myself”, reminding me of some of the tunes being written for the stage today. Bruce puts his collaboration with poet Pete Brown to good effect on the dramatic “One” (as he does on many of these tracks), before finishing with “Timeslip”, during which Steve Hunter is finally let off the leash and allowed to break out into a scorching guitar solo toward the latter half of the song.
The 2003 remaster comes with five extra tracks, none of them all that essential unless you’re one of those people who enjoys hearing alternate mixes of the same songs.
Jack Bruce will forever remain famous for his work with Cream, which goes without saying, but that doesn’t mean his solo output shouldn’t be any less deserving nor warrant further investigation. More often than not it will be musicians who will tell you that there is an understated sophistication to Jack Bruce’s music that will often go over the heads of many none-musicians (me included). And who am I to disagree. What I do know is that Bruce was brilliant at just about everything he did, even if he would never again reach those commercially dizzying heights of the late 1960’s. But how could he? Too clever for pop, too obtuse for standard rock, Bruce was forever destined to be a wandering star.