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

Album Review | MIG | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Jack Bruce’s stately position in the history of popular music cannot be overstated. A stalwart of the British blues boom of the early 1960s and noted bassist with such outfits as Blues Incorporated and the Graham Bond Organisation, to the much more succinctly monikered rock trio Cream, the musician is remembered here in a concert staged on the first anniversary of his death. The concert brings together a variety of musician friends, former collaborators and members of Bruce’s own family in a celebration of his best loved work, including such songs as “I Feel Free”, “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love”, which the three disc release is named for. Among the invited musicians captured here on two CDs plus a DVD film of the event, include volatile Cream band mate, the late Ginger Baker, who appears towards the end of the show, staged at the Roundhouse in London, on both “We’re Going Wrong” and the aforementioned “Sunshine of Your Love”, whilst Eric Clapton, who wasn’t in attendance, contributes the final instrumental “For Jack”, a plaintive acoustic meditation accompanied by some familiar humming, with the famed guitarist clearly reminiscing about his old friend.

The accompanying concert, organised by Jack’s daughter Aruba Red and widow Margrit Bruce Seyffer, is captured on the accompanying DVD, which opens with some vintage monochrome footage of Bruce performing “Train Time”, a bluesy harp solo, reminding us of the giant behind the concert that follows. The opening song “Hit and Run” featuring fellow bassist Mark King, interweaving vocal duties with Stealth, also features Clem Clempson, looking uncannily like Clapton, who delivers some fine lead guitar. The same line-up follows with a stirring take on “I Feel Free”, the scat vocal intro having Bruce’s unmistakable mark all over it. If Liam Bailey contributes some eerily close vocals, especially on “Politician” and the old Skip James blues “I’m So Glad”, other notable appearances include Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and British soul singer Joss Stone. With a couple of high points being “Don’t Look Now” delivered by the octave-spanning London-based singer Nandi, together with an inventive cello-accompanied “Rope Ladder to the Moon” courtesy of Ayanna Witter-Johnson, the only real ‘neither here nor there’ moment goes to Hugh Cornwell and his soulless and forgettable “Hear Me Calling Your Name”, only the slightest niggle in an overall glowing event, which raised money at the time and continues to raise money for good causes. 

Choice Track: “I’m So Glad” (NSV 489)