Friday, August 13, 2010

Bruce Springsteen - The Essential Bruce Springsteen


Years ago, I worked with a couple of ladies who were, to put it mildly, Springsteen fanatics.  Now I don't have a problem with fandom, not even with geeky fandom.  I might even be accused of being somewhat this way about a few bands myself. 

The problem I had with these ladies is their love of Bruce only came about because of the song Dancing In The Dark and the accompanying album.  I remember at a coffee break one afternoon discussing their attendance at a Bruce concert in the near future and that he was reknowned for putting on great, long live shows with lots of his old material and how cool it would be to see he and the E Street band performing such classics as Blinded By The Light, Thunder Road, The River or, of course, Born To Run. 

The looks on their faces said at all.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  They recognised the names of a couple of the songs but didn't know them.  I equated this with saying you're a Beatles fan but them admitting to not knowing anything before, lets say, Sgt. Peppers.  Now I realise I was probably being a smug SOB but back then, I just couldn't let them get away it.  I remember peppering them with assaults about being 'chart' fans and not knowing the 'real' Bruce.  (It must be said I'd never met or seen him live either, so my extremely limited righteousness was based on the few records I heard and what I'd read).  Such is the arrogance of youth, I guess.

Those girls came back converted.  Not only did they enjoy seeing the songs they knew and loved but fell for all his old material, as much of it as they heard, anyway.  And like a Bruce show, this collection is in no way complete.  But really, I think to properly appreciate Springsteen, the songs have to be listened to in the context of the album they came from (yes, Mine, some more albums to add to that list).  But this is a great collection nonetheless.  Listening back to it made me want to jump in the car and get out while we're still young (okay, reasonably middle-aged but allow me my fantasy, will ya?)

VERDICT: TURN IT UP because tramps like us, baby, we're born to run


Bruce.  Broooooooce.  There's so much I have to say!

How about, I think Springsteen is a songwriter in the same way Stephen King is a writer - he distils modern America while still remaining relevant to the nitty gritty moments in life we all experience.  Although Bruce is less about the horror and more about the everyday.

Then there's the voice - unmistakable with that hint of a growl - and I don't know about any other ladies out there, but he certainly rates highly on my seduct-o-meter.  Not to mention he just gets better looking.

What if I take a walk through this 3 CD set and just marvel at the range of songs - some of which I can cheerfully never hear again after my time in commercial radio, but many I just want to listen to over and over.  Walk with me through my favourites - Thunder Road, Born To Run, The River, Nebraska, Brilliant Disguise, Human Touch, Lucky Town. And even though I've heard it a thousand times, Glory Days just gets more and more relevant as I get older and greyer.

Then there's that glittering moment on Welcome to the Pleasuredome.  Yes, I'm talking about Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  I've searched YouTube and no-one's uploaded the original track but there's a wonderful mash-up of the Gerry and the Pacemakers song Ferry 'Cross the Mersey crossed with Born To Run.  Magic.

And it wouldn't be a review from me without telling you about the time I saw Bruce.  The Ghost of Tom Joad tour.  In the fancy-schmancy State Theatre because this wasn't a greatest-hits Bruce, this was the slowed-down, stripped-back version with no Born In The USA moments.  And he was brilliant.  Incandescent.  Although my night's entertainment was soured somewhat by the drunk merchant bankers in front of me who apparently hadn't bothered to read what the tour was about, and persisted in the "Broooooce" calls throughout the show.  But apart from that I had a damn fine time, and I have a fond memory of Bruce playing Red Headed Woman for Patti - who was there!

So I guess all that remains is to say to YourZ - who bought this for me some time ago - thank you.  (YourZ sez: you're very welcome, my love).  And I really, really need to play it more.  It's easy to skip Dancing (shudder) for the rest of the album - which is magnificent.


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  1. i adored him when he was a skinny street punk with the sexiest underbite in rock and roll, and i adore him today, as an aging, muscular gentleman with the sexiest underbite in rock and roll.

    saw him in 1980 on "The River" tour, and saw him again in 2005 on "The Rising" tour. He wants me. He just doesn't know it yet...

  2. Big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
    Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

  3. Daisyfae, I feel somewhat the same about Damon Albarn (Blur & Gorillaz)

    Cape D'Avenger... that's your favourite, I'm guessing? But how can you have just one?

    hugs to you both

  4. Too true, One Step Up ain't even there. But I thought it was a nice thought for election day.