# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Bruce Foxton - Back in the Room

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 11 / 10 / 2012

Bruce Foxton - Back in the Room
Label: Absolute
Format: CD


Superb new solo album, which features Paul Weller on three tracks, from former Jam bassist, Bruce Foxton

The former Jam bassist and vocalist’s first solo album, ‘Touch Sensitive’, was released nearly thirty years ago and, looking at it again all these years later (it has been reissued by Cherry Red Records) shows that it’s hardly up there with Foxton’s work with the Jam. Apart from a couple of good, solid singles that were pulled from the album (and that doesn’t include the biggest seller, ‘Freak’ which was simply a mess) the album was an uninspiring collection. One couldn’t help feeling that Foxton was being pressured by the record company to produce hits and lost something of his own identity in doing so. Foxton’s later work with Stiff Little Fingers was more rewarding and, although it didn’t seem like a good idea at the time, calling his new band From The Jam and pairing up with former Jam drummer Rick Butler to perform old Jam songs proved to be a good move. With Russell Hastings taking lead vocal and guitar duties the band’s live shows were excellent as evidenced on the ‘A First Class Return’ DVD. There were those doubters that Foxton could do the songs justice but really, who better (except for Paul Weller of course) to perform these classic pop songs live? Foxton played on the originals; he had as much right as any of the trio to perform them live. Working with Russell Hastings resulted in Foxton and the talented guitarist/singer writing new songs together. Through Pledge Music (which basically means that the album is fan-funded) Foxton, Hastings and Mark Brzezicki on drums (ex Big Country and now the sticksman for From The Jam) have recorded twelve brand new songs and released them on Basstone Records. It could be argued then that this isn’t a solo Bruce Foxton album in the truest sense but From The Jam performing new songs rather than old Jam tunes. But whatever name sits above ‘Back in the Room’ on the cover one thing is for sure, this is the strongest collection of songs that Bruce Foxton has recorded since his days in the Jam. Recorded at Weller’s Black Barn Studios and with Weller playing on three songs is certainly going to excite many a Jam fan, and with Hastings undeniable vocal similarity to Weller at times the album sounds like it could have been a follow up to ‘Sound Affects’ or ‘The Gift’. The simple fact is that it is not only Weller who has recently produced some of his best post Jam work. Foxton hasn’t taken the experimental path that Weller has so successfully walked throughout his last three albums, but he has retained a lot of that classic Jam sound, that timeless, inspirational pop music that we never tire of hearing. Foxton never got much of a look-in when it came to writing for the Jam, although his distinctive bass playing and vocals were very much apart of the overall Jam sound, so it is a surprise to find that Foxton is actually a songwriter of no little substance. Maybe Foxton has always needed a songwriting partner to bring out the best in his work, and it seems that in Hastings he has found the perfect one. The album opens with the near-instrumental ‘Ride’ and immediately it’s obvious that Foxton is back again doing what he does best; timeless, melodic, catchy pop music with Foxton’s soul and mod influences well to the fore. ‘Number Six’, the first single to be pulled from the album is attracting attention because Weller plays on this song, but forget that and just enjoy one of the most vibrant, catchy songs Foxton has ever put down onto tape. Yes, it brings to mind many different classic Jam songs, but there are hoards of people who have been waiting decades to hear songs like this again. While harking back to the Jam, Foxton, Hastings and company have still managed to make the song sound fresh and contemporary. ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ has a nice soul groove going on which is no surprise really as this particular track features Steve Cropper on guitar, the Booker T & The MG’s star adding his part in Nashville, but the biggest surprise is the soulful brass playing of Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman and the gospel backing vocals which really do work well. It’s an inspired piece of music that displays a side to Foxton that he rarely shows so strongly. There are old-style rockers like ‘Window Shopping’ that recall early Jam songs, but which are loaded with little musical surprises along the way that shows how much Foxton has developed while not abandoning his roots. ‘Glad I Found My Tears’ shows a softer side to the band and again features an irresistible chorus; these catchy tunes seem to be simply pouring out of Foxton over the course of this album. ‘The Wide Open Road’ flows out of this song and is another of Foxton’s instrumental pieces. While Foxton’s distinctive bass drives the song, both Hastings guitar and Brzezicki’s percussion add much texture and colour to the song, and Steve Norman’s contribution, although short, is outstanding. And so it goes on. Over the course of twelve songs Foxton delivers what could be a long-lost Jam album which has somehow been updated for 2012. There is the backwards guitars of ‘Find My Way Home’, and the nod to The Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood’ in the closing ‘Senses Of Summer’, a sleepy psychedelic gem of a song which shows that the songwriting partnership of Foxton and Hastings is a match for anything on Weller’s last excellent album. There are times when it’s hard not to break out into the widest of smiles when listening to ‘Back in the Room’, the sh-la-las of ‘Reflection’ will make the day of anyone who appreciates the more innocent sounds of 60’s pop music. With yet another brilliant, catchy tune and Foxton stretching his vocals to their limit, it’s a perfect pop song of which there are very few made these days. Maybe there are too many references to the Jam in this review for Foxton to feel that he has accomplished something new. But the bassist should be as proud, if not more so, of this collection as he was of his work with The Jam. For all the Jam references scattered throughout this album it still sounds fresh (and why wouldn’t it, the Jam produced timeless pop music in the same way The Beatles did) and contemporary. Obviously all those From The Jam gigs have turned Foxton, Hastings and Brzezicki into one of the tightest and most exciting bands this country currently has to offer. On this showing it won’t be long before Foxton and company will have to drop the Jam songs and give the fans what they want; more new songs of this caliber. Bruce Foxton has just made one not only one of the best albums of 2012, but one of the best albums from the last few years.

Track Listing:-
1 Ride
2 Number Six
3 Don't Waste My Time
4 Window Shopping
5 Glad I Found My Tears
6 The Wide Open Road
7 Find My Way Home
8 The Gaffa
9 Drifting Dreams
10 Coming On Strong
11 Reflection
12 Senses Of Summer

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