Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bruce Springsteen The Promise vs The Darkness

What to do Bruce Springsteen is starting to amass a massive catalog.  Darkness on the Edge of Town being the last point for me in trying to keep up.  Other music beckoned but Bruce and the New Jersey Shore have always held a special place in my heart.  The Promise now out has more selections from the Darkness era and I like it better.

I thought that would get your attention.  While Darkness is a great album there are a few tunes that don't do it for me. I was on board from the beginning with Greetings but after Born to Run I slowly drifted away. The River never took hold for me and the whole Born in the USA thing struck me as a Pepsi commercial.

That being said if that's what you liked more power to you and I'm not here to dissuade any of you we all have personal taste.  The Promise is right in my wheel house.  When I first heard this album I thought WOW Bruce is back and then I realized what this disc is all about. (See I'm not an obsessive fan).

I will add that those that think these are fourth tier songs after 18 Tracks (which I like and own as well) I would add not so fast. Obviously these were bare bone tracks that Bruce & Co. wanted to go back in and tweak. Rough cuts that maybe he planned on re-recording a long time ago and didn't get around to doing until now. The other more complete tracks released in the meantime. I have no way of knowing. But I really do think the batch of songs on The Promise are accessible and track after track I think top Darkness.  Believe me I think Adam Raised a Cain is a tour de-force and one of my all time favorite efforts ever by Bruce but while Promise doesn't contain any throat grabbing tracks like Adam/Cain or Candy's Room it is more consistent from the first to last track.  I can't say that about Darkness. Again just my opinion but maybe useful for others out there.  The Promise is a strong consistently good album from beginning to end.

In putting a Bruce Springsteen Collection Together I would stick with the first releases Asbury Park, The Wild and The Innocent, Born to Run, The Promise, 18 Tracks and Live/1975–85. 

In any event I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with Bruce's huge catalog and threw together a Bruce Best of Volume II so to speak cherry picking off his massive collection after Born to Run.  Here are the songs and sequence.  It turned out real well thought I would share.

Adam Raised a Cain
Prove it All Night
Lucky Town
Your Own Worst Enemy
Girls in Their Summer Clothes :)
Brilliant Disguise
Tunnel of Love
Candy's Room
One Step Up
Old Dan Tucker
Cadillac Ranch
Long Walk Home
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
The River
My Beautiful Reward
Worlds Apart

That all fits onto one 80 minute disc largely taken from Darkness on The Edge-Magic also Lucky Town, The Rising, The River, Tunnel of Love and Seeger Sessions. Impossible to stay current on Bruce's career unless you are all in devoted and his releases after Born to Run have been spotty for me. But now that he has so many discs out you can pull gems off of everything and make yourself a really nice disc. Bruce is still kicking out some great music.  It might not be wall to wall on one album but the man keeps working and this Mp3 disc, Promise and the albums above square me with Bruce Springsteen and are a proud addition to my collection.  Now we need the weather to just get a little nicer and spring to get here!

Paul McCartney Monkberry Moon Delight

Paul McCartney is another like Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen his output and arc is massive.  That's a good thing - lots to choose from - that's a bad thing no one disc is going to be an epic greatest hit or like the the first few.  Its a hit and miss proposition.  I mean this is a man who recorded Ebony and Ivory as well as Monkberry Moon Delight.  Yikes Paul you are not going to please everyone all the time.  So outside of a few albums I would say burn your own collection.  Not every song is going to be a masterpiece and certainly its the rare album that's going to be mind blowing one song after the next.   Be that as it may Paul has some beautiful work out there its just up to us to assemble it into our own collections.  Watch the cost be stingy and you can distill it all down to a few albums you must have (Ram - Wingspan) and a compilation or two.

Here's my compilation mp3 ideas and sequence for "Sir" Paul It fits on to one 80 minute disc:

Accentuate the Positive
Little Woman Love
Sunshine Sometime
Riding into Jaipur
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
The Song We Were Singing
Baby's Request
My Very Good Friend the Mailman
Dance Tonight
Used to be Bad
Cut Me Some Slack
Big Barn Bed
We Can work it Out
Blue Moon of Kentucky
Honey Hush
Letting Go
Spin it On
That Would be Something
Hey Diddle
You Gave me the Answer

The albums the selections came from are: Band on the Run - Driving Rain- Flaming Pie - Kisses on the Bottom - McCartney - Memory Almost Full - Ram Deluxe - Red Rose Speedway - Run Devil Run and Unplugged. Good luck out there Paul's got some gems - you just have to wade through a lot of song samples - hope this helps.

Van Morrison Where To Begin Look at the Man

Van Morrison's musical and lyrical arc is so massive and extensive that his various phases and growth don't please all the people all the time and his catalog is a bear to navigate.

It's impossible to catch this breadth in any greatest hits compilation (Still on Top having been recently released).  Van really is an artist where you should just burn your own compilation.

Van's got some great albums that work well as an album concept but again after decades of output not every album is going to hit the note track after track.  That's just a creative and physical impossibility if you are making music for a living.  Not that the artist with integrity doesn't try.  Its what makes the muse so elusive and dynamic if catching lightning in a bottle hasn't been used to death.  So after you purchase a core group of albums save your money you will never listen to it all and download some hand selected mp3s that speak to you.  For instance Moondance has a stellar side one but side two is weaker (albums remember we had to flip them well no one flipped Moondance.  That's how good side one was so that album is perfect for ripping mp3's.

Here's my suggested albums to own followed by my two 80 minute mp3 collections.  I'm just putting this out there for those new to Van or old timers who gave up keeping up because his output is so ridiculously huge and covers a lifetime.  Suggested albums to own in their entirety are as follows:

Tupelo Honey - Hard Nose the Highway - It's Too Late to Stop Now (Live) - Veedon Fleece - Common One - Hymns to the Silence - Down The Road - At The Movies - Philosopher's Stone - His Band and Street Choir

Some people are more into the early years (Gloria) but I'm more into the mystic/secular vs the overtly religious (that's just me) I wouldn't argue taste.  Van's like a 100 flavored ice cream store so pick your favorite albums and burn the rest.  Some people are ga, ga over Avalon Sunset.  I say rock on with your bad self but not for me.

Here's my suggestion compilation and order Disc One fits an 80 minute disc:

Dweller on the Threshold
And it Stoned Me
Into the Mystic
Here Comes the Night
Brown Eyed Girl
Green Mansions
Pagan Streams
The Way Young Lovers Do
Have I Told You Lately
Bright Side of the Road

I made that disc years ago - here's my recent compilation, sequence and it fits onto an 80 minute disc as well:

Across the Bridge Where Angels Dwell
Precious Time
I've Been Working
Blue Monday
The Healing Game
I'll Be Your Lover Too
Sweet thing
Crazy Face
Someone like You
The Way Young Lovers Do (apparently I like that tune)
Saint Dominics Preview
Close Enough For Jazz
In the Garden
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (part 1)
Celtic Swing

The albums these cuts came from are Astral Weeks - Beautiful Vision - Born to Sing - His Band and Street Choir- Inarticulate Speech of the Heart - Still on Top.

Good luck out there hope that gives you some ideas to explore.