Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Today’s Top 5: October 1978 (via Record Review Magazine)

Ah, 1978. I remember it well. But I have no memory of ever having seen or read this magazine, a bi-monthly that, due to the lack of advertisements within its pages, looks like it attempted to subsist on subscriptions and newsstand sales. There’s a full-page ad for Carole King’s Welcome Home album on the inside front cover; another full-page ad on the inside back cover for YSL Records, which specializes in Japanese imports; and there’s an ad on the back for Intensive Care, an album by jazz musicians Louie Bellson, Ray Brown and Paul Smith that’s billed as “the first audiophile release from Discwasher Records.”

Beyond that? There’s a half-page “classified” section that charges 50 cents a word; and this Akai-infused subscription pitch:

The magazine itself, as the subhead promises, offers “in-depth coverage of rock, jazz and classical music.” Here’s the contents page:

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: October 1978 (via Record Review Magazine).

1) The Rolling Stones – “Miss You.” Jon Sutherland thinks much of the Stones’ Some Girls album, which he says is “the most sweeping and powerful Stones production since Sticky Fingers” and “their finest album in nearly a decade.” He also takes a shot at the punk scene: “The Stones created the spirit the punks are now borrowing, but the punks don’t have the touch of the masters.” Ouch!

Sutherland concludes his love-fest with “[t]he Stones started the trend toward hard rock and the tenacious comment that goes with it. No one does it any better. Probably, no one ever will. The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock and roll band in the world and Some Girls is a reconfirmation of that fact.”

2) Cheap Trick – “Surrender.” Page 11 features Record Review Interview: Cheap Trick, by Boni Johnson, which mixes critical insights with quotes from Rick Nielsen. Of this song, Johnson writes that it’s “as definitive of the Cheap Trick sound as anything they’ve recorded. The melodic guitar lead, strong hooking chorus line, the dash of pop sensibility, and the simple instrumentation are all evident.”

The band had yet to break big in the States, though they had overseas. “In Japan, we’ve done very well. ‘Clock Strikes Ten’ and ‘I Want You to Want Me’ (both from In Color) were hits and we’ve scored gold albums, but it’s just a matter of time before it happens in America too,” according to Nielsen.

That time came the following year, of course, after their at Budokan live album was released.

3) Bob Dylan – “Where Are You Tonight?” Michael Davis weighs in on Bob Dylan’s legacy as well as the bard’s latest album, Street Legal. “There are those who consider Dylan close to a god, and others who regard him as a has-been with the majority somewhere in between. That he should inspire such a wide disparity of views should come as no surprise since the man has followed his changeable muse throughout the last two decades…”

Of the album itself, Davis concludes “I’m a little disappointed, but there are rewarding tracks here. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to the ones that puzzle me; I know Dylan’s music well enough by now to know that the pieces don’t necessarily fall together at the beginning.”

4) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “The Promised Land.” Davis also tackles Springsteen’s third album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, his first since 1975 due to a legal fight with his former manager, Mike Appel. “It appears that he was determined not to lose touch with the streets that inspired most of his songs,” writes Davis. “But of course that environment changed for him. The people that he draws his material from in Darkness on the Edge of Town are no longer street urchins, hanging out on the boardwalks and endlessly cruising and fighting their time away. They are working men who put in 40-hour weeks at jobs that slowly eat away at them, and though they try to ease their frustrations through love relationships with women and competitive relationships with other men, they are only partially successful.”

This song, says Davis, exemplifies “Bruce’s vision of working life existence.”

5) Buffalo Springfield – “Rock & Roll Woman.” Richard Nisley delves into the short but storied catalog of one of greatest rock bands of the 1960s, Buffalo Springfield. The band “had  a string of hits in the second half of the last decade, among them ‘For What It’s Worth,’ ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Uno Mundo,’” explains Nisley. “But they are better remembered for having Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and for their last album, Jimmy Messina, as members. Each went on to become a superstar in his own right, a status the band never achieved. Not that it didn’t have the chance; what it needed was time. The band was together about two years and had another year passed it likely would have emerged from the pack that included the Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds as the country’s top rock group.” Perhaps. Perhaps not.

And in the end…there’s this preview of a surefire box-office hit…

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Springsteen on Broadway, 11/24/17

The lights grew dim; and a spotlight zig-zagged its way across the stage. Suddenly, a silhouette appeared as if out of thin air. It belonged to that noted song-and-dance man, Bruce Springsteen, who was decked out for the occasion in top hat, black tie and long tails. He also carried a cane – not for walking, but dancing. The orchestra swelled into a jaunty rhythm and the Boss began a soft shoe, tap-tap-tapping his way across the stage. “Give my regards to Broadway,” he croaked, “remember me to Herald Square…” He extended an arm; and the longtime Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire, Patti Scialfa, twirled into his embrace, and delivered her patented lush harmonies on the next lines. “Tell all the gang at 42nd Street/That I will soon be there…”

Nah. Just kidding.

Prior to the show, on our way to the Walter Kerr Theater, I found myself – much to Diane’s chagrin – singing “On Broadway,” the classic Drifters song. In many ways, it’s apropos to Springsteen on Broadway, in which the Boss mixes monologues about his life’s experiences with curated songs from his expansive catalog. His has not always been a luxurious life, and there were moments early on where it seemed it might never be. He was working the Jersey Shore circuit, after all, which guaranteed anonymity; and when lightning finally did strike, and he signed with Columbia Records, his first two albums didn’t exactly catch fire. “They say that I won’t last too long on Broadway/I’ll catch a Greyhound bus for home they all say/But they’re wrong, I know they are/I can play this here guitar/And I won’t quit until I’m a star/on Broadway.”

I don’t wish to spoil the show for those who lucked into tickets but have yet to see it, so will do my best to remain circumspect. I’ll just say that, in a way, it’s reminiscent of the 2005 Devils & Dust tour: Bruce plays acoustic guitar much of the night, though there are a few sojourns on piano, too. Patti also lends her harmonies to two numbers, and provides the inspiration for Bruce to sing the first line of the Exciters’ “Tell Him.” But it’s not an all-music affair; no one should enter expecting a “concert.” Think of the (much-bootlegged) introductions to “Growing Up” and “Independence Day,” among other songs, when Bruce paints vivid word pictures that are often as riveting as what follows – that, translated to an acoustic setting, is what this is. The soliloquies are sometimes funny, often profound, and always spellbinding.

The show is biographical, but not biography, with the shared vignettes being both personal and universal. That it’s in an intimate (by Bruce standards) setting makes it all the more special. The Walter Kerr Theater seats 975 people, and the sight lines – aside from one very tall person thankfully not blocking our view – were great from our vantage point in row N. Pictures aren’t allowed, though by the last song many people had their cameras out. (Which explains the shot up top.)

For the set list, which has remained static thus far, scroll below the picture of Yours Truly…

  1. Growing Up
  2. My Hometown
  3. My Father’s House
  4. The Wish
  5. Thunder Road
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Born in the USA
  8. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  9. Tougher Than the Rest (with Patti)
  10. Brilliant Disguise (with Patti)
  11. Long Walk Home
  12. The Rising
  13. Dancing in the Dark
  14. Land of Hope and Dreams
  15. Born to Run

Today’s Top 5: The Staves – Borrowed Tunes

It’s early morn on Thanksgiving Day as I write and, all through the house, not a creature is stirring – aside from the feline who’s stalked me since his breakfast at dawn. Just now, he poked his head up beside me and bellowed a mew. It’s his version of “please, sir, may I have some more?” but instead of “sir” it’s “serf,” and he’s added and subtracted a few other words, too. “Serf, I want seconds. Now!”

I jest, of course.

Thanksgiving is, as its name makes clear, a time for giving thanks, and there’s much to be thankful for this year, as there is every year, even though – as a whole – 2017 will go down in the history books as one of the all-time worst. It sometimes feels as if horrors from a parallel universe are bleeding into ours.

But here’s one reason (of many) to give thanks: Tomorrow, sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor, aka the Staves, release a new album, a collaboration with the chamber sextet yMusic titled The Way Is Read. The three tracks they’ve released to promote the project are breathtaking. “Silent Side,” which they shared last week, is aural beauty personified:

Their show at the World Cafe Live in March, I should mention, was a highlight not just of this year’s concert slate, but of all my years’ concerts. It was akin to stepping through a portal to a magical, mystical land where everything’s groovy and everything’s alright. In other words, it’s in the running for the Old Grey Cat’s esteemed Concert of the Year Honors.

One of the things I like about them, aside from their songs and vocals, is their knowledge of music past, which they obviously use to inform their music present. One can hear it in the borrowed tunes they sometimes sing – as I’ve written before, a well-chosen cover song is like a glimpse into the soul of the singer(s); and the sisters’ picks, which range from the sublime to silly, are illuminating.

Here’s today’s Top 5: The Staves – Borrowed Tunes.

1) “After the Gold Rush” (Neil Young)

2) “These Days” (Jackson Browne)

3) “A Case of You” (Joni Mitchell)

4) “I’m on Fire” (Bruce Springsteen)

5) “Long Time Gone” (Dixie Chicks)

And two bonuses…

6) “Helplessly Hoping” (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

7) “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band)