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Mitchell: Springsteen uncovered
Bruce Springsteen; High Hopes (Columbia)
Springsteen is famous for being a workhorse. During his lengthy two-year legal struggle to put an end to a poorly drafted contract, he recorded the equivalent of four albums worth of material (post-Born To Run), which proved beneficial for the likes of The Pointer Sisters (Fire) and Patti Smith (Because The Night) who scored big hits with unreleased Springsteen covers.
Springsteen was also noted for recording way more songs than were needed for his other studio albums. So this new disc, High Hopes, runs in the vein of the four-CD box set Tracks and The Promise in that it ties up loose ends of hitherto unreleased Boss material but with a slight difference. This time out Springsteen recorded the 12 tracks of High Hopes to be released together as an album rather than a collection.
He also heavily collaborates with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello as a fill-in for Stevie Van Zant and the departed Clarence Clemmons. Morello adds his production nuances of cinematic sonics and FX to the mix while reportedly encouraging Springsteen to record a few covers such as Suicide’s Dream Baby Dream and the title track from the pen of lesser known writer Tim Scott McConnell.
The best cover here is a solid take of Just Like Fire Would from Australia’s legendary punk band The Saints while he interpolates ideas from Joe Grushecky (of the like-minded Jersey, blue collar rock band Iron City Rockers) on The Wall—about a Vietnam War Memorial visit.
High Hopes comes off as an oxymoronic mixed bag with cohesion and makes for a solid, even great album but not another Springsteen classic per se.
Fave tracks include the politically incendiary American Skin 41 Shots (on Trayvon Martin and other victims of “stand your ground” U.S. legislation) and the bereft song Down In The Hole that sounds sorta I’m-on-Fire like.
A solid release that fans of Broooooose will love.
The best thing, however, is this comes with a bonus DVD of the Born In The USA album recorded in proper sequence at a London outdoor venue in solid daylight. It is simply galvanizing.
Barbra Streisand; Back To Brooklyn (Columbia)
This latest Streisand album is a concert recording that chronicles her first ever live gig in her hometown 40+ years since Streisand left as a teen to chase her career.
That career has, of course, proven to be wildly successful and this concert CD is a celebration of that as much as it is a homecoming.
This is a maxed-out single CD with 24 tracks where Babs rips through many of her well known hits where this album is also divided into three segments.
There is a fine tribute to her collaborator Marvin Hamlish (who died only a couple of months before this gig).
Streisand also pays tribute to local Brooklyn writers Alan and Marilyn Bergman who provided her with many tunes, and in the final segment features the fine sax of Chris Botti on a handful of songs.
As expected Streisand dips heavily into the American songbook and from the sounds of it, a good time was had by all.
My only criticism is that Babs is a tad too chatty even breaking into chatter during songs but then again she had not performed in front of her home audience in decades.