It’s a huge honour to be able to bring you this podcast chat as I’m joined by The Jam legend, Bruce Foxton.
A man whose bass lines, and style of playing, are amongst some of the most recognisable on the planet – often identifiable after just a few notes.
Down at the Tube Station at Midnight, In The Crowd, The Eton Rifles, Funeral Pyre, Pretty Green, Going Underground… I could easily go on…
We hear how he joined the band – a line up of Paul Weller, Rick Buckler and Steve Brookes in 1974 and his viewpoint on the band’s incredible journey through live gigs and studio recordings to their huge success and, quite rightly, a whole heap of moments that he is massively proud of.
We also get the story of the band’s split in 1982 from his point of view and the subsequent recording and release of his first solo album – Touch Sensitive – in 1984.
I was lucky enough to be in the audience when Bruce joined Paul Weller’s solo show in 2010 for a very special night at London’s Royal Albert Hall so hearing the story of the reconnection of their friendship after so many years of no communication was fascinating.
I hope you enjoy our chat as much as we did and please share on your social media channels to spread the word… You also add a comment to the page at the bottom…
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…
2022 – Foxton & Hastings – The Butterfly Effect – 2022
A Desperately Seeking Paul playlist with a mixture of songs written by Bruce with The Jam and Solo plus some favourite songs with those unmistakable bass-lines that we know and love. I’ve also put some of the songs that Bruce & Paul have done together since and some Foxton & Hastings highlights too. ENJOY!
2010 – Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation
Nominated for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize, Paul Weller’s tenth solo studio album was dedicated to “absent friends – John Weller, Pat Foxton and Robert Kirby”.
Bruce played bass guitar and sang backing vocals on Fast Car / Slow Traffic and bass guitar on She Speaks. Our first experience of hearing the two of them together on a studio album in 28 years. The album earned rave reviews with NME commenting “Our Godlike Genius 2010 casts away the laurels in favour of fresh, fiery songcraft on this riotous, inventive rebirth“.
2012 – Bruce Foxton – Back in the Room
Bruce Foxton’s first solo album in 28 years – Back in the Room – also featured Russell Hastings and Big Country’s Mark Brzezicki with Russell as a co-writer on the album too.
The LP was recorded at Black Barn (Paul Weller HQ) and even boasts a very special guest on three songs in Mr Weller himself. (Track 2 – Number Six, Track 4 – Window Shopping, Track 10 – Coming on Strong).
You can find it on Spotify here – open.spotify.com/album/44zQMvraFYGRp115QNzCDu
2016 – Bruce Foxton & Russell Hastings – Smash The Clock
Again recorded at Black Barn Studios, Smash the Clock featured 13 co-writes from Russell and Bruce with Paul Weller playing guitar on Full Circle and piano on Louder.
Shout out also to Tom Heel (Podcast 87) for piano/hammond/guitar on many tracks and Derek D’Souza (Podcast 72) for Photography.
You can find it on Spotify here – open.spotify.com/album/2p0DR2AsC9Vj6AtjWGEpV5
1984 – Bruce Foxton – Touch Sensitive
Touch Sensitive was Bruce’s first solo album – recorded and released after The Jam split – with the majority of the LP being written by him.
The LP was produced by Steve Lillywhite to give the album a contemporary sound.
You can find it on Spotify here – open.spotify.com/album/4BsdkXmXWvZWuFYGCofwAz
Podcast Listener Thoughts…
Grant Wheeler via Email
Love all these podcasts… just brilliant.. Fills in some of the gaps I wasn’t aware of as a lifelong fan….
I’m sure others will touch on this but having read your message on FB, 2 that come immediately to mind are Funeral Pyre and Fast Car Slow Traffic, not just for Bruce’s driving bass lines on both tunes but also the back stories behind the tracks.
FP obviously written by The Jam – it would be interesting to know how Funeral Pyre formed and progressed between the 3 of them given the way the bass leads and then takes off in different directions during the tune.
FCST… Paul is quoted as saying that he knew the track needed Bruce on Bass on it… and he was right… but the back story behind that would be good to hear. Bruce ended up on a few tracks with Paul at that time, not just FCST and of course this culminated in the Albert hall gigs with, amongst others Eton Rifles being played ….another thunderous baseline that stands up there with many, many others.
Keep up the good work…
Paul Franks via Email
Hi Dan, Great that you will be speaking to Bruce next week! Just thought I would let you know my favourite Bruce bass-lines:
I love the clever melodic basslines to To be someone and Liza Radley ( I believe Bruce plays accordion on the latter).
Town called Malice is an obvious favourite.
But my all time fav has to be Private Hell. The live version on Dig the New Breed is awesome and still makes me shiver to this day, sublime.
If I could ask Bruce a question it would be this:
Bruce, just how many pairs of trousers did you rip the arse out of stage with The Jam?.
Cheers Dan,keep up the great work ✊
Andy Young in North Ayrshire via Email
Hi Dan, well done for getting Bruce on the podcast. I hope his health is on the mend.
He was obviously an integral part of the ‘Jam sound’, not only for some brilliant bass lines (Tube Station, Pretty Green, Start, Private Hell etc), but also for the little additions he brought to the table. Tube Station, marvellous song though it obviously is, was all the better for Bruce’s ‘Woah oh oh oh oh’ after the word ‘midnight’.
Back in 1980 we hid in the balcony after a Jam gig in Blackburn as we had heard they came out into the hall to sign autographs etc. when we thought it was safe to come out we sneaked down into the main hall. I held the door open for a bloke behind me and it was Bruce! He said “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
Anyway to cut a long story short he very kindly got hold of Paul and Rick and they all signed things for us. He was really lovely and down to earth. They all were.
Shame it took tragedy for him and Paul to kiss and make up but I’m glad they have.
Ask him how long he thinks he can keep going and is he not sick of playing the same songs all the time?Hope it goes well Dan
Steve Park on Facebook
Went to see an early incarnation of FTJ while Rick was still with them (could’ve still been The Gift, can’t remember!) In a small club in Poole. My bro in law knew the owner who asked us if we wanted to meet the band backstage, well,we said ” go on then”, we went backstage & chatted to Bruce & Rick, sadly not Russ, mainly about their Poole Arts Centre dates,shared a beer,then we went back out front.
Ian Traynor on Facebook
Impossible to narrow it down to any one track… All so good.
We’ve got Norman Watt Roy to funk us up! But Bruce definitely hits you over the head with it… ✊
Keith McConnell on Facebook
Smithers Jones is amazing and very underrated
1st time I heard it was on setting sons, so gonna run with that
Steve O’Driscoll on Facebook
This is gonna be a good one, love all his stuff but especially his debut solo album, TOUCH SENSITIVE, from 1983. I was a young 16 year old recovering from the jam breaking up but was made up when this album came out. Be good to know his feelings on 78 when Paul was having writing block & how his NEWS OF THE WORLD single & his lead vocals on DAVID WATTS probably saved the jam while Paul got his mojo back
Jim Gearing on Facebook
Really looking forward to this one! Bruce’s bass lines on songs like Tube Station, Town Called Malice, Scrape away etc really take the Jam songs to another level. But what I really love is that all these years later the albums he’s released with Russell Hastings Smash the clock & Back in the room have been real quality! Like Paul Weller he’s still moving forward & producing great music.
Richard Noble on Facebook
So many fantastic bass lines and I’m not a bass player but in Melbourne 2019, I was stood right in front of him and he was at an angle where I was looking right along the fretboard as he played the part during the guitar solo in The Modern World. His finger work was incredible and for a few moments I was momentarily agape with wonder. I wish I took a picture. A truly top class musician.
Den Davis via Email
Hi Dan, a couple of photos from back in the day. I’m not sure many ‘fans’ ever got to have a one to one bass lesson with Bruce but he taught me the correct way to play all the fiddly bits like in tube station. But my fave bass-line to play is ‘It’s Too Bad’ always loved playing it.