Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen

I wanted to review Lucille but I haven't gotten to it, but I plan on it. I also will get Cherry Bomb done. Maybe next week or something. Well anyway lets start this let down. This is the follow up to Born to Run, so this is album number 4. It took over a year to finish that album, about 15 months, this one took 6 months. The thing is that it was about two years before it could be recorded, and three in between the release of the albums. The reason for it was because of a legal battle between Jersey Devil and Mike Appel (his first manager). Appel sued Springsteen after dropping him as his manager in favor of the man who said Bruce was the future of rock and roll Jon Landau, who also was an editor for a magazine. The battle lasted, I believe, within the time in between these albums. This album was recorded as a whole band instead of overdubs. The thing that I think is neat is that there were 70 songs written for the album, 50 of which were recorded (though some where incomplete). Now the interesting this is tracks not used for the album include Fire, Independence Day, Because The Night, Heart of Stone, Rendezvous, Point Blank and many others. Note: I refuse to call him The Boss, I read somewhere he didn't like that name and I sure don't. Now let's get started.
  1. Badlands: This opens the album and it's a rocker. The biggest problem is his inflection. I mean the "oh oh oh oh" almost takes me out of the song. This is a track that is a great opener, but I just can't get with it once I've heard it a few times, it's just not as good as some of his other tracks period.
  2. Adam Raised A Cain: Another rocker, more rocking than Badlands. Now this is a pretty solid track, the only problem here is that I don't like the chorus at all. The chorus is probably supposed to make it like an anthem, but it just makes me, honestly..... It makes me loose interest in the entire song. Like other than for this review, I doubt I'll ever listen to this again. Maybe part of the album is its crafted and :(
  3. Something in the Night: The beginning of this song is odd, and a little off. Off in a good way, to be clear. Now where does this song kind of not reach what I want. Well tracks one and two were straight, and this is a straighter version of a song on Born to Run. And well, no.
  4. Candy's Room: Far superior to Candy's Boy, an early verison of this track. I do really think that drum thing is pretty cool and so far this is the most interesting song on the album, and I think that's kind of good. Like my ears perked up when I heard the intro. Now I really like the piano rolls and think the chimes help it. This is song, at first seems kind of cluttered, but who knows, maybe upon multiple listens it will unclutter a lah E Street Shuffle.
  5. Racing in the Streets: I recently read somewhere that this has been, called by critics, Bruce's best song. The best songs he's made are Rosalita, Blinded By The Light, The River, Thunder Road, among others. Well actually if I could only pick one it'd be between Jungleland and Rosalita. It's funny I mention Thunder Road because this song most resembles it in the beginning. And while this is a very touching song. I dig the chorus, but for whatever reason it's not connecting with me. This is the superior version of the song, well at least I can take it more. This is one of the tracks with a repetitive chorus that isn't so bad.
  6. The Promised Land: Even that organ doesn't save this song for me. Sounds like all the other songs.
  7. Factory: This isn't that bad of a song, but again.... It doesn't have that Magic I desire from him.
  8. Streets of Fire: "in a real death waltz, between what's flesh and whats fantasy". This has a very very very bare organ and vocal intro. Which when the part that follows shouldn't have surprised me, but completely kills the mood of hope for this song to be true-lee great.
  9. Prove It All Night: This is ............ The chorus is the same as Adam Raised A Cain and most of the other songs here where it's just a repeat of the title. And it works on songs like Purple Rain is because it's full of building and full of emotion. This is just too repetitive.
  10. Darkness on the Edge of Town: This song opens with something that is promising, and to be honest the first time I heard it I didn't care. Now after hearing in the context of the album, it's not half bad, and the fact that the chorus isn't just pasted in and cut out, it actually has changes instead of a loop. Possibly the best song on the album.
Overall I have to give this a 5/10. At one point the only song on here I liked is Badlands, but you know to be honest there isn't anything about any of these songs that I like enough to out way the thing I don't like. It's basically an album of Backstreets. He said he wanted to bring this album to it's barest elements, but I love albums that are very bare and straight forward. Examples are Either/Or, Draw the LineJohn Wesley Harding, Double Vision, The Rolling Stones Ep,  Please Please Me and Five by Five ep to name some. Those are all great albums that are very straight forward, and this isn't great. I think he goes for the mature grown up version of Born to Run and it's not working for me. I think Born to Run is more engaging. It's more real, this is just like an old fogy talking about shit that he's too old to have the energy or emotional connection to. And He did a better job on tracks on the next album. Now critics said this was a more mature album, so I looked at the music, no there. Then I looked at the lyrics, and I really looked. I read every single word and dissected the album. I realized that the themes where all themes I could connect with directly at this point in my life. And seriously..... I feel nothing. I feel very bad, why? Well Independence Day was a track that he didn't use for this album. Now I think the best version of that song is a live version with the piano on it. I bet he would have played that version of it if it were here. Now would that hurt The River's impact on me, Yes. Would it help this album be easier to take, Hell Yes. I don't know, I guess it's better than the unbearable Nebraska (though that albums title track is better than anything here). The albums is just medium, average, nothing special. Also the track Give The Girl A Kiss is better than all but the other two bloded tracks on this album, and it was recorded back as an outtake and released on the 1998 comp Tracks.

On the bright side look forward to reviews for Cherry BombAt.Long.Last.A$AP, Just Like You, Either/Or, The College Dropout, Ok ComputerSol Invictus, To Pimp A Butterfly, The Magic Whip and some others. Not all theses (besides maybe OC will be up by 2016).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tonight - David Bowie

This review has been sitting on the "fill in the blanks" pile now since at least December, maybe even earlier. I figure its time to get it over with. This is the follow up, by about 17 months, to David Bowie's commercial album Let's Dance. This though, was followed up by, minus Labyrinth, 1987's Never Let Me Down. This album, like the previous, Let's Dance (and not Ziggy Stardust Soundtrack) features some co-written songs and some covers. Though David seems to have always have a cover song on albums, from at least Hunky Dory to Aladdin Sane, and from David Live to Station to Station. There are other examples, but I just want to get to the point. He must have gotten lazy on this thing. And even though i read he thinks (or thought) of this as Pin Ups 2, its not all covers and he co-wrote some of the covers he is performing. But when all is said is said and done, lets go to the review. Don't fear, Cherry Bomb is up next, and should be up within the week.
  1. Loving The Alien: One of only a very few songs that I truly like, on this album. Not just enjoy or can tolerate, actually like. I actually think the better version is the 2004 acoustic rendition of the track that appeared on the 2010 Reality Tour CD, and I think it was released on DVD in '04 also. The only problem with this track is its very cluttered. There is a lot going on and it sounds like too much going on. Also I don't like the way it was edited. I wish it would flow better between the sections of the song. But beside that it's a great track. The sad thing is that it doesn't flow so well. And he's made sides of albums flow, he needs Tony. 
  2. Don't Look Down: A cover of Pop's 1979 track off his New Values LP. There are two other covers from him and they are both from the 70's and he also co-wrote them with the Stooges front man. This song is not as fun as the original. The original is, while not one of my favorite solo Pop track, it is still better than this.This is very ska and very dub reggae ish. Like this sounds like an 80's take on a track I'd hear Sublime or Bob Marley doing that is boring. And the backing vocals again, reminds me so much of Wings on their soft rock tracks.
  3. God Only Knows: This is a cover of the great song by The Beach Boys. Now without comparing the two I would have to say that the original, another example on this album is Tonight, is better. By a lot, a lot. Like I mean when I listen to this I just don't get any pleasure out if it. And to prevent a relisten to hear and give more details I'll say what I remember. His vocals, the arrangement, the playing, lack of charm, lack of interesting harmonies and worst of all it doesn't cause a tear in my eye or rip at my heart, unless its a heart attack or tears of pain telling me to avoid the track. :(
  4. Tonight: This is a cover of the track he co-penned with Iggy for the Lust For Life album. While the original moodier and darker version by James Newell Osterberg, Jr. was the best version and haunting in its beauty, David decided to make this into not only a reggae number but also a duet with Tina Turner. Now this version isn't terrible, but after you hear the original you'll know your allegiance. I actually enjoy the happy feeling I get from this. This track version is also very fun to listen to. It's also fitting that he cut out the intro that explains what the song is really about, since there is a woman singing with him. Now I don't want to spoil it, but I like how the cover was actually reworked it into something fitting Bowie and kept it from being a piece of crap cover version. I also like how this was changed into more of a two lovers singing together vs the originals one side perspective. In cutting that intro he basically changed the whole entire story. Like he changed what his version was about and its a significant change, not a change the pronoun in The House of the Rising Sun change. somethings on such a different meaning I'm lost for word when trying to think of another example this extreme. {8.7/10}
  5. Neighborhood Threat: Originally on Iggy Pop's 1977 album Lust For Life, this is another track that Bowie decided to cover for this album. This was also co-penned with Iggy and Rick Gardiner. The latter was also a member of The Stooges, for a short time. And damn this is so 80's if it wasn't on an episode at, least in the form of an instrumental, on Miami Vice I'd be shocked.The verses sounds a ton like; like it's crazy similar to, Dreams (?) by Van Halen, and that track came out two years later. The pre-chorus sounds like Bang Bang. Hell this whole entire track is a prelude of what was to come on the Glass Spiders tour. But I can't stress that this is no where near as good as the original. Also I plan to add the song when I figure it out. 
  6. Blue Jean: This is one of only two tracks sole penned by Bowie. While I live to see his name solo again, this is one of the lamest songs on the album with his name as the writer. I mean, yes it's fun and a decent track. But I've grown away from the song. This sounds like it would actually fit on Let's Dance but might have been cut last minute or something. Whatever the case I just have fell out of love with the song. Even when I did like it when I was in grammar school I never loved it, more of a like for it. It was never a Space Oddity or a Ziggy Stardust. It was more in line with Let's Dance or the Cat People redo. I hope that makes sense.   
  7. Tumble And Twirl: This is another co-penned track with Iggy Pop. Something about this.... screw it, I think this is a dumb name for a song. I mean it just kinda bugs me. And well this song is so Oingo  it's just.... the only good part I think is the quiet part that reminds me of soft rock with the acoustic guitars.  That sounds like something I'd hear on Venus And Mars, most likely, by Wings. I get the whole feeling of this track, and honestly it's not horrible, it's just not up to Boingo quality. This might be the most blatant copy? of Dead Man's Party, though that track came out the following year. Though I am digging the acoustic guitar tone for the solo.
  8. I Keep Forgettin': This is a cover of the 1962 track originally recorded by Chuck Johnson. Other artists covered this track include Ringo for his 1983 Old Waves album and Procol Harum for their 1975 Procol's Ninth. So at least there are other people who know this song and probably like it, and it's not another Iggy Pop cover from the 70's. And to be completely honest this reminds me of Oingo Boingo. The track I have in mind particularly is Goodbye Goodbye. Like serioulsy everything about this track reminds me of the group, from the horns, drums, vocals performance and even the chords and the rhythm pattern. The only thing is Goodbye Goodbye is louder and more upbeat. And maybe replace the guitar solo with a saxophone. But the intro sounds very similar to Modern Love's drum beat. {7.8/10}
  9. Dancing With The Big Boys: This was was co-penned with Pop and Alomar. If I am correct Bowie once said this Is the track that was what he was going for on the album. This one came out best or something like that. To be completely honest I've heard the song, obviously if I'm reviewing the album, but its nothing that special. I mean I guess if you listen front to back its a nice ending but still. 
Overall I have to give this thing a 6.3/10. The biggest problem here is Bowie must have had writers block mixed with lack of interest mixed with no drive. While his name does appear in six of the songs writing credits, 3 of those six are covers of Iggy Pop songs. The worst thing is this slump wasn't just for this album, thought it also appeared on the prior too, it continued on to the next album 1987's Never Let Me Down. Such a terrible title for something that does every time. But anyway this album does have decent tracks, but Davey just isn't up to par on this. The best way to enjoy this is front to back (to hear them all), then periodically listening to the other tracks alone and revisiting them over time. And also not taking them as serious as his other material, but that should be a given. I should also mention, for as harsh as I was on him for sound like Elfman's new wave ska legends, some tracks on DMP were also uneventful and kind of boring so. Who knows, maybe it's just my tastes and sonic pleasure areas.