Various Artists – Sunshine of Your Love: A Concert for Jack Bruce | Album Review

Various Artists – Sunshine of Your Love: A Concert for Jack Bruce

MIG Music 02192

22 songs – 107 minutes plus full concert DVD

When Scotsman Jack Bruce lost his life to liver cancer at age 71 on Oct. 25, 2014, the world lost one of its most influential musicians ever – a man who rose to prominence alongside Eric Clapton in Cream after establishing himself in both the Graham Bond Organisation and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The co-writer of such classics as “Sunshine of Your Mind,” “White Room” and “I Feel Free,” he enjoyed a long solo career in which he was recognized by Rolling Stone as one of the ten greatest bassists of all time.

This thoroughly enjoyable 107-minute set captures a star-studded tribute concert to Bruce that took place at The Roundhouse in North London on the first anniversary of his passing, which benefited his favorite charity, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Fans around the globe are finally able to enjoy that show thanks to Germany’s MIG Music, which released a two-CD/DVD box set of the performance with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for the charity, too.

Released officially last October on the same date, the roster includes Jack’s partner in Cream, Ginger Baker, as well as Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson, Mark King of Level 42, Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music, Scorpions’ lead guitarist Uli Jon Roth, Joss Stone, members of Bruce’s Big Blues Band, Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake fame and a host of UK blues/roots royalty and Jack’s daughters Natascha – known professionally as Aruba Red — and Kyla and sons Corin and Nico.

Although unable to attend the concert, Clapton’s present here, too. He recorded a personal, unspoken tribute on acoustic guitar  that’s remained unheard by the general public since being played at Bruce’s funeral. Those words appear here as a bonus cut for the first time, fittingly at the conclusion of the set. And the show includes video accolades from Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, John McLaughlin, Robin Trower and others.

Opening with “Hit & Run” and the familiar “I Feel Free” with King on doubling on lead vocals and bass, all but two of the songs here were penned by Bruce in various stages of his life — either solo or in concert with Pete Brown, Kip Hanrahan, Margrit Bruce Seyffer and Clapton. The exceptions include the Clapton-George Harrison classic, “Badge,” and “I’m So Glad,” penned by Skip James in 1931 and first appearing on the Paramount label.

The ballad “Milonga” follows. It’s delivered by Scottish keyboard player Mark King with Anderson providing accents on flute. The ladies are in charge for the next pair with Nandi’s haunting rendition of “Don’t Look Now” followed with Kyla sweetly covering “Weird of Hermiston.” Marsden takes over for “White Room” and yields the mike to punk rocker Hugh Cornwell – best known for his work with The Stranglers – for “Hear Me Calling Your Name.” Two tunes covered by King — “Keep It Down” and “No Surrender” – sandwich British soul-blues/reggae star Liam Bailey’s reinterpretation of “Politician” before cellist/vocalist Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s take on “Rope Ladder to the Moon” bring the first CD to a close.

Beginning with “Candlelight” – delivered by blues-rocker Rob Cass – and “Tickets to Waterfalls” – featuring Anderson – disc two offers up much of the same. Young Scot Chloe Fiducia offers up “Ships in the Night” before Bruce’s daughter Aruba Red takes charge for “Folk Song.” Bailey draws an encore for “Badge” before Julie Iwheta, who provided backing vocals on Jack’s final album, is in command for “How’s Tricks.”

Bailey also handles “I’m So Glad” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” which bookend Stone powering through “Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune” Aruba taking on “We’re Going Wrong,” before Clapton’s moving acoustic tribute brings the night to a close.

Sure, there’s not much true blues here, but the thread runs steadily throughout. If your tastes run toward blues-roots, this one will definitely keep you entertained for hours.

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