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
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
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.
-- Movie soundtrack
The soundtrack from the John
Sayles movie Limbo features a non-album Bruce Springsteen song titled Lift
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.