An interesting year in music, both inside and outside of Springsteen-land.
Turning the corner on my first half-century, I find myself seeing less live music, something I would like to remedy this year. The last two consecutive years I caught Bruce in Albany–and kicked myself for not seeing subsequent shows in Buffalo and Rochester. It’s been all Bruce, all the time–but there were no Bruce shows this year–his mammoth Working On A Dream tour having wrapped up in November ’09. So:
1) The one show I did see: The Hold Steady at The Westcott Theatre on April 10th. Rare that you can walk to and from a rock show–but it was spectacular. My fifty year old knees held out fine and Craig Finn had everyone chanting lyrics, pumping fists and having a grand time. No wonder I went right out and bought both their new album “Heaven Is Whenever” (“Heaven is whenever we can get together/Sit down on your floor, and listen to your records”) and their live disc “A Positive Rage”
2) The two shows I most regret fanning on:
The Max Weinberg Big Band (ok, so it’s big band swing music–think Krupa/Severinsen–but they also did a version of Kitty’s Back!)
Steven Page (an epic fail on my part–since, in addition to his new solo album he did some of his best Bare Naked Ladies compositions–especially “Brian Wilson”)
This was was supposedly an “off year” for Bruce after relentless touring for the past four years. But we also saw the release of both the live from Hyde Park concert DVD and the (2 years late) box set commemorating the 30th anniversary of “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” Hours and hours of video and audio to pour over–not to mention the replica Bruce workbook of ephemera included in the Darkness set.
Of course, the highlight of the year was the 2 disc CD of unreleased tunes from the Darkness era, entitled “The Promise.” I could write a lot more about “The Promise” , the Darkness box set and what it all means–but I do not have to. Please read the following:
1) Ed Comentale’s review of “The Promise” on the Tiny Mix Tapes web site.
2) Joe Posnanski’s meditation on sons, fathers, working class life and Bruce Springsteen. I dare you not to cry. Not only is Posnanski the best baseball writer out there–this is the best article on Bruce ever written.
Spin the shiny disc
I’m a boomer, and although I use any number of online platforms (blog, twitter, facebook, tumblr, youtube) I do not download. I like buying albums and slapping them in the player. I like reading liner notes and ogling the cover art (remember the Ohio Players cover art back in the day?) I like owning albums. I buy them, rip them onto my computer, put ’em in my iPod–but also listen on my stereo. They sound a lot better.
I buy all my CD’s at Soundgarden–the great independent store with the huge selection, located in Armory Square. They had a good year–bucking the national trend of double digit declines in CD sales. I urge you to patronize them as well. They’re all we’ve got folks!
Having said that–I went back and saw that I bought 46 albums this year–about one a week. Given the way my wife yells about unauthorized purchases and a drain on the family finances–not bad actually. Here’s the complete list, if you’re interested. The highlights:
Albums I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Already Own:
Bob Dylan–“Highway 61 Revisited”
Bruce Introduced Us:
Every year I find a new interest after a duet, a cameo on stage, a comparison in the rock press. Marah, Jesse Malin, The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem–and this year:
Alejandro Escovedo–“Street Songs Of Love” (Bruce duets on the song “Faith”)
I Thought I’d Like Them More Than I Do
not terrible, but I was more excited goin’ in than comin’ out:
She & Him–“Volume 2”
Ben Folds–“Lonely Avenue” (although I’m starting to warm up a little)
M.I.A.–“Kala” (even the track “Paper Planes” that samples The Clash is disappointing)
My Favorite Tracks:
Weezer–“Island In The Sun” (our vacation theme song–“hip, hip!”)
Robert Plant–“Angel Dance” (The Golden God spurns the Zep Reunion $millions$ so he can explore fascinating Americana back roads, like this Los Lobos cover)
Avett Brothers–“Head Full Of Promise . . .” (the perfect tune to survive this year of Obama disillusion on the left: “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected/ And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected/ If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected/ Decide what to be and go be it.”)
Favorite Albums Not Titled “The Promise”:
Buddy & Julie Miller—“Written In Chalk”
The Rolling Stones—“Exile On Main Street” (remastered/expanded)
The Gaslight Anthem–“American Slang”
various artists–“Daptone Gold”
North Mississippi Allstars—Hill Country Revue