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Three Cd Review's
Bruce Springsteen
By Bob Silvestri

Best of WNY.com    Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band have released a new live two-CD set titled Live In NYC to document their recently completed world tour, their first together since the 1988 Tunnel Of Love tour. The CD was released in conjunction with the HBO special of the same name. That’s the good news. Now, the not so good.
     How a person of Springsteen’s magnitude and quite possibly the greatest live performer in the history of the music could fail for the third time to put out a decent live album is beyond me. His first attempt, the live box set, was a collection of old FM broadcasts, poorly edited material and a safe song selection to please the Top 40 enthusiasts of the time. His second attempt, an MTV Unplugged show, was simply a documentation of his “fake” band that he used for his Human Touch/Lucky Town tour. Which brings us to this, his third live disaster.
     Anyone who has ever seen Bruce live knows just how enthralling the show can be. It’s like an old-style revival with everyone sharing a common bonding experience. As a life-long Bruce fan and having seen him over two dozen times plus having listened to over 700 shows, I know where I speak.
     The pacing of the live show and the songs played are all carefully placed for maximum effect. One of the problems with the new CD is the songs are out of context compared to their normal placement in the show. Most of the songs, like Jungleland, lose their grandeur in this unnatural placement. This CD does not follow a normal show set and finds some really questionable choices. One glaring mistake is the fade out at the end of disc one effectively slicing in half Out In The Streets and Tenth Avenue Freezeout. The second disc starts with a fade in for Tenth and the song loses all the momentum from the actual live show due to this fade in/out crap. Since the tracks were already juggled this could have been avoided. Also after the fade out on disc one comes an unlisted on the jacket version of Born To Run. To throw this on at the end like a tack-on song is a gross injustice. The song loses all its majesty. Born To Run has always been a pinnacle of the live shows. The machine gun drum shots to start the song, the house lights on and the feeling of sharing the same moment with 20,000 of your closest friends is lost. A great disservice for a great song.
     At the end of disc two are six “bonus” songs also seemingly tacked on as an afterthought. All of these also would have sounded better in their proper live show spot. The point is this CD would have been much stronger and closer to a real Bruce show had he just released the whole show from beginning to end and in the right chronological order.
     There are some bright spots including two new tracks, Land Of Hope And Dreams and American Skin (41 Shots). Another bright spot is If I Should Fall Behind with all band members taking their turns on vocals.
      Springsteen produced the CD with long time associate Chuck Plotkin. They have no one but themselves to blame for this mess.

A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska
     A very diverse group of artists has banded together to pay tribute to the crown jewel of the Springsteen catalog. Bruce released Nebraska at the point of his career that seemed like a suicide move. Instead it strengthened his stature as a premier songwriter. Basically a demo at the time for the E Street Band to flesh into an album, Bruce found more power in the starkness of the demos. While his previous work had dealt with lost love, family relations and the loneliness and despair of New Jersey, Nebraska took those notions and placed them in everyone in America’s backyard.
     It’s with this in mind that artists such as Los Lobos, Son Volt, Ani DiFranco and Johnny Cash among others have recorded their versions of this dark masterpiece. The CD is in the same order as the original with three additional songs from the sessions recorded by Bruce but not used on the final disc. Of these, Johnny Cash’s version of Downbound Train is a showstopper. A nice compilation and an interesting take of others interpretation of Bruce’s work, most of who have been influenced in their own way by him.

Limbo -- Movie soundtrack
     The soundtrack from the John Sayles movie Limbo features a non-album Bruce Springsteen song titled Lift Me Up.
     Performed by Bruce and sung in a falsetto voice, it has a feel similar to his song Philadelphia. Perhaps Bruce owed Sayles a favor for his previous work on some of his music videos as the movie was not a box office hit and I find no other reason for his association with this movie.
     Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio stars in the movie and sings most of the other tracks on the CD. Nothing either memorable or embarrassing for her and she does have a rather pleasant voice as demonstrated on the Richard Thompson penned, Dimming Of The Day and the Chuck Berry classic You Never Can Tell (C’est La Vie).
     Don’t ask me what the movie was about because I only picked this up for the Bruce track. A rather nondescript CD best left for Springsteen completists to buy. 

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