Saturday, 29 January 2011

Cover Me

I lived the first 18 years of my life by the sea.  Sutton-on-Sea to be precise – a small town on the Lincolnshire coast about 4 miles from Mablethorpe to the north and 15 miles from Skegness to the south. This has skewed my opinion of the seaside somewhat.  When I go home I have an irresistible compulsion to go to see the sea but suggest I get in the car on a sunny Sunday and drive to Scarborough or Blackpool and I would be horrified.  You see the seaside was my prison when I was a teenager.

Sutton was, and still is, a sleepy little place.  All the excitement,if you could call it that, was to be had in Mablethorpe (Skegness being an expensive and long bus ride away).  Here during the summer the amusement arcades opened and there was a funfair.

As teenagers it was expected that we would get summer jobs waitressing or selling ice creams, rock and candyfloss but during the evenings and on days off we would hang around the fair.

This was way back in the days before video games had even been thought of so our 'pleasure machines' were penny slots, table football or pinball.  There was a carousel, waltzer, twister and big wheel and we had our very own Madame Marie, although she was called Gypsy Rose Lee or some such..

There wasn't a boardwalk instead a concrete promenade lined with a few shops, cafes and beach huts.

A bit off topic you might be saying but as you know all roads lead to Springsteen (or in this case they lead from Bruce and back round to him again) and I was prompted to tell you this after I pulled out our copy of Light of Day – A tribute to Bruce Springsteen. 

The cover depicts probably the first picture I had seen of the Asbury Park boardwalk and I was struck by how similar it is to my home.  It's not that it looks the same it's just a feeling:something about the atmosphere of the place. Maybe it's just the sea.

Anyway I escaped my seaside town at about the same age as Bruce landed in his but in an odd way his affection for the place made me appreciate my own home a bit more.

So Light of Day was the first covers album we actually bought.  We had two albums given away free with Uncut magazine which Mike had played over and over.  He is a champion of the cover really.  In fact there are some occasions when he would choose to listen to the cover over Bruce's original.  On the other hand I know there are many tramps who can't even bear to listen to any version other than Bruce's.

I fall somewhere between the two.  I have nothing against covers.  Some I like, some I don't like and some are just so different that it makes me listen to Bruce's version in a new light.  On the whole though I don't think I would ever prefer someone else's interpretation of a Springsteen song more than his own.  At least I'd never admit it not even to myself.  Or would I ?... I'm not a Tom Joad fan but I like this

That version of 'Sinaloa Cowboys' is on the albums (it's a double) along with some other unusual covers.  I would recommend it to any Bruce fan just for the experience of hearing a new interpretation of an old, familiar and ,in some cases, much loved song.  I can't pick out a truly bad track.  There are artists we have never heard of, some we didn't know at the time but have familiarised ourselves with since and one who we have met a couple of times – you know who you are Mr Wright.

The first version of 'The Promise' we heard was a cover from the album by an Italian – Graziano Romani. During a holiday in Italy a few years back we went into every record shop trying to find something by him but to no avail. 

Anyway Mike's fascination with the cover means we also have One Step Up Two Steps Back – The songs of Bruce Springsteen. Another great double album.  More dubiously we own If I Were The Boss – The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen which includes such gems as 'Growin Up' by Alvin Stardust and 'Fire' by Shakin' Stevens.  The weirdest album? - it has to be The String Quartet Tribute to Springsteen.

Back in the days when we were just getting into ripping and burning, these many versions of the same song inspired Mike to make up two CDs of our own featuring only the one song in it's many guises. Atlantic City because it's his favourite and Thunder Road for me.

Well guys to be honest I can't find much Bruce news for you this week.  There's this DVD which is apparently being released in February.  For the intellectual among you this blog compares Steve Jobs with Bruce.

And finally this week to go back to the covers theme here's a medley for you to consider.  There is only a snippet of each so if there's something you hate it'll soon pass!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Beyond The Palace

So we did indeed get a few You Tube gems from Light of Day.  I love the sing-a-long-a ‘Thunder Road’.

The sound of a crowd singing along together is so uplifting.  It only goes to prove that most people there were Springsteen fans and they seem to have been treated to a great night.

In 2005 I had an urge to go to LOD.  We had a Badlands email advertising their trip and did a lot of research regarding flights.  I had managed to convince myself that I didn’t care if Bruce appeared or not.  The thrill of going to Asbury Park was enough.  In the end Mike persuaded me that I was kidding myself and he was right. Bruce didn’t turn up that year and I was relieved that we didn’t go.

We considered going this year but things have moved on since 2005.  We have now been to Asbury Park.  It was the most amazing day.  I would love to go back but the thought of the boardwalk on a cold January day doesn’t really appeal.

Seeing a show at the Paramount Theater would be fantastic.  Mike and I follow many of the acts that perform at LOD but, with apologies to those other artists, I have to admit that I would be gutted if Bruce didn’t put in an appearance.

Anyway back to the You Tube clips. This one along with a couple of others have been posted by Backstreetsbev.

I assume this is the same Backstreetsbev who I first came across on BTX. She’s quite the celebrity over there. All her posts include a photo of her and Bruce.

This was the first photo I had seen of Bruce with a fan and I was so envious - still am.

I seem to remember she was at Emirates night 2 when Bruce played 'Backstreets' and someone posted a brilliant photo of her listening in awe. This was the night I fell in love with the song.  It had sort of passed me by before but hearing it live I realised what an amazing song it is.

My little Bruce world is a bit subdued at the moment.  The excitement of the Darkness Box set has faded and there is nothing to look forward to.  For the first time for, well, possibly years I don’t feel the need to listen to Bruce music all the time.  I’m not getting the usual withdrawal symptoms if I choose the non Bruce play lists on my iPod so I’ve had a go at Biffy Clyro, The Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty and 12 Stones.  Can’t say I love any of them on first hearing although most will merit a second and third play.

We didn't even get excited about Bruce night on the Beeb.  In fact Mike hardly watched any of it.  I stuck it out until the end though although I'd seen it all before.

Anyway today Mike suggested we make Saturday a sixties day (so also a non Bruce day).  Some of you reading this weren’t even alive in the sixties but most of you will know hundreds of sixties songs and loads of those songs influenced Bruce.  So... whilst I was washing up I played The Monkees - the first band I really loved - but who had absolutely no influence on Bruce I imagine.  This afternoon I chose a compilation featuring girl groups - the likes of The Shirelles and The Crystals.  A bit more influence there then.

By the way the drum roll at the beginning of 'The Locomotion' is eerily similar to 'Born to Run'. I must have heard both songs hundreds of times over the years and never noticed this before.

This week when I was researching LOD I came across this piece about the Paramount show.

Sara has written a book which I have ordered.  I read the first page on and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest when the book arrives.  I’m not into e-reading yet so it‘s the paper version for me.  I’ll let you know what I think in a few weeks.

And to round off this week.  The folks on BTX are suggesting that Patti needs to hang on tightly to her man.  Apparently Shakira has split with her long time boyfriend.  I believe she is a bit of a Bruce fan and she's a good looking woman in anyone's book.   Just joking Patti - I think you are probably stuck with him for life now!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Just Around The Corner...

Some of you may remember from my earlier blogs that I used to talk about other music we have bought down the years.  This was because I needed some filler material.  As we got more up to date and I could remember more Bruce related details I no longer needed to mention other things.

Perhaps that was a shame.  Whilst Bruce does figure large in our music collection we do still try and listen to other stuff.

Earlier this week on the radio - Radio 5 for a change - they were discussing the demise of rock music in the UK.  In the States it is still alive and kicking I believe.  They used the term rock music loosely - the definition being guitar based tracks.  Using this description only three rock songs got into the top 100 in 2010 - 'Don't Stop Believing'  by Journey, Train's  'Hey Soul Sister' and Florence and the Machine with 'You Got The Love' (this compares to 13 in 2009).  There were 47 R&B songs and 40 pop songs.

Actually some of the biggest stars in 2010 were rock bands - Bon Jovi, U2, AC DC and the like and the big Metal/Rock festivals such as Sonisphere are almost as popular as Glastonbury.  It seems us rock fans simply don’t buy singles.  We buy albums and go to live gigs.  Now you might think this doesn’t matter but it means radio is struggling to find rock music to play and therefore young kids don’t hear it.

The observant amongst you will also notice that the three bands mentioned above are no spring chickens any more.  New rock bands coming through are few and far between.  Hmmm - is rock music simply for old (I use this word with tongue firmly in cheek) people?

I mention this because a lot of the new music Mike and I buy is actually old music.  I’m an unabashed pop music fan so looking back at the hits of, say, 1974 when I was 16 my least favourite bands would be the rock bands - T Rex, Cockney Rebel, Alice Cooper.  The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton also feature in the list of most popular singles in 1974.  I would't have considered buying anything by either when I was 16.

These days we own a couple of Rolling Stones albums and I might go out and buy Eric Clapton but, although it’s new to me it’s hardly contemporary.  By the way did you know that Eric Clapton is the only person to have been inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times?  Once in his own right, once with Cream and once with The Yardbirds.

I got that snippet from Wikipedia together with this :-  Guitarist Little Steven writing Clapton's entry for Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", on which Clapton ranked 53rd, said "Eric Clapton is the most important and influential guitar player that has ever lived, is still living or ever will live."

So I started out talking about other music but all roads lead to Springsteen.  I don't have to tell you that though do I.

Bruce is 23 in the list

Anyway, as it happens, the last two albums we bought were Lissie and Thea Gilmore. Despite what I said earlier Lissie is hardly an old timer!  Not sure about the album though.  ‘Cuckoo’ got a lot of airplay and has a real country feel but the rest of the album is a bit different and iTunes describes it as alternative.

We bought Thea Gilmour because Mike liked 'You’re The Radio'.  Thea’s got to be up there in my book anyway because she’s a Bruce fan and he‘s a fan of hers apparently.  Can’t say I’ve played the album much though.

See what you think of her version of cover me.

So the 11th annual Light of Day concert series is in Asbury Park this weekend.  Bruce has performed in seven of the last 10 years.  I assume he’s at a bit of a loose end at the moment so the odds are he’ll put in an appearance.  Hopefully this will mean something to interest us on You Tube next week.

For those of who don’t know about the origins of LOD I’ve copied a small bit from the website below.


Light of Day - the concerts and the organization - grew from a birthday party and fund-raiser held in 1998 at the Downtown Cafe in Red Bank to celebrate the 40th birthday of artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin. Benjamin was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1996.

In 2000, Benjamin and Tony Pallagrosi of Concerts East, Inc. organized the first official Light of Day concert, which took place at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Nov. 3 - Benjamin's birthday. Headlining were Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, the Pittsburgh-based band managed by Benjamin.

The shows, named after a Springsteen song that is the title of a movie starring [Michael J] Fox and Joan Jett, have raised funds for the ongoing fights against Parkinson's Disease, PSP, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and related diseases

Two things to finish off.

Firstly a quick reminder for those of you in the UK.  BBC 4 Saturday night (15th January).  Bruce is on from 9.00pm. Stuff from The Promise and the Seeger gig from St Luke's again.  So if you can’t get to The Paramount Theater, Asbury Park you can at least see Bruce on the box.

Secondly Bruce has been nominated yet again for The Best International Male Solo Artist Brit Award.

He has now been nominated six times and won once - unsurprisingly in 1986 on the back of 'Born In The USA'.

Bruce was beaten by Eminem in 2003
                                 Kanye West in 2006 and 2008
                                 Jay-Z in 2010

This year he is up against Eminem and Kanye again together with Cee Lo Green and David Guetta.  My money is on... well anybody except Bruce and, to be honest, I've never really been able to get excited about the Brit awards anyway.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Born To Run - An Evening for Daniel

Below is a picture of Daniel and a brief note from his dad. 

Kevin is a huge Springsteen fan and our big Bruce community, inspired by the philanthropy of our hero no doubt, is getting together to help raise money for Daniel's treatment. 

There is much more in the link below.



"Daniel does not eat or drink anything. He suffered from acid reflux as a child and for this reason he refuses all fluid and food, we cannot even brush Daniel's teeth. He is fed via a Mic-Key button, which is inserted in his stomach. As well as the acid reflux Daniel also has an Autistic Spectrum disorder, of which there is no cure.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Just Like Springsteen

Well first of all my nomination for surprise of the week -

Our best mates lent us some of their recent CDs.  We always swap music.  Although we have similar tastes we sometimes throw each other a curve ball.

So I am standing in the kitchen chopping onions, listening to Lady Antebellum and … well here you are

I love the song but if you really can’t bear to hear it through to the end the surprise is only 27 seconds in.  No idea why ‘black pearl buttons’ by the way.

Now those of you who know me or have paid attention in past weeks will know I have a guilty pleasure - Country Music.  I try to keep it reasonably quiet but perhaps 2011 is the year to come fully out of the closet and admit it.  I LOVE country music - there I’ve said it.  It makes me smile, makes me want to dance and sing along.  Some people might prefer to belt out a big power ballad and believe me I’m not at all averse to that- but me - when I hear a good rockin’ country tune I can’t help but join in ya’all.

So those rumours that come out from time to time suggesting Bruce might do a country album … well bring it on Mr Springsteen - you look good in a cowboy hat!

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but my other great love is Northern Soul.  Ask me to sit and listen to the music I liked when I was 18 and, for the most part, I would be horrified but Northern Soul has remained a favourite.  I can actually only name a few tracks but I usually know a Northern Soul tune as soon as I hear it - it’s something intangible - sort of the feel of the track rather than anything specific.

This instinct often fails if the song is a popular track - more mainstream.  For instance ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ - R Dean Taylor and The Chiffons ‘Sweet Talking Guy’ both appear on one of my Northern Soul compilations but to me they are just pop songs - pop songs I love admittedly but I wouldn’t have described them as Northern Soul.

This holds for ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ which pops up on Bruce’s set lists from time to time.  I might be misjudging him but I assume that, like me, he doesn’t recognise this as (specifically) a Northern Soul track.  In fact as Northern is a peculiarly British thing perhaps he may not even be aware of it.

Anyway in an effort to find any other connection I did a Google search - Bruce Springsteen and Northern soul - ’Higher and Higher’ came up as did this

Well it's Light of Day this week. So are we looking forward to an appearance from our man?  More about this next week.  Mike and I did consider going - but only briefly.  It's very expensive and we are hoping for some other gigs to spend our money on before the end of 2011.

And to round off this week in the so you think you’re a proper fan category I nominate Rachael Barratt -

Rachael ‘phoned Radio 2 to tell the listeners that her New Year's resolution is to go and see Daniel O’Donnell as many times as possible in 2011.  He is apparently doing less touring so she will have to go some to beat last year's total.  In 2010 she saw Daniel 60 - yes 60 - times!  Puts my Bruce gigs to shame. I’m tempted to say she’s nuts but actually she’s not so different to us is she?  Given the opportunity … ??

See you next week!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

So my Bruce buddy Sinead announced on Facebook that she is taking her mum to see Bruce this year.  Now as far as I know she hasn’t been chatting to Our Man or indeed Jon Landau.  I don’t think she works for Shore Fire media so how does she know there is going to be a tour?  Forgive me if I am wrong Sinead but I assume it was just a subconscious slip of the finger coupled with a feeling - a strong feeling - that there is going to be something happening in 2011.

I know that feeling because I have it too.  So much so that I could get quite excited on the basis of a hunch.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been browsing around the Bruce stuff on the Internet so rather belatedly came across this great review on  Backstreets  (scroll down the page a little).  It’s a long article but well worth a read if you have the time.

I hadn’t realised that the set was so long.  I had assumed the four songs we saw via the web cast were the set in it’s entirety but - no.  The following songs were performed all at least twice which hopefully suggests (after some cutting and editing) we may see some more.

Set list
Gotta Get That Feeling
Outside Looking In
One Way Street
Come On Lets Go Tonight
Save My Love
The Brokenhearted
Aint Good Enough...
The Promise
Talk To Me

Could this be a sort of rehearsal for a tour?  And what about the ‘See you soon’ which everyone seems to have taken as a sign?

When I first came to live in Yorkshire one of the colloquialisms I noticed was that everyone was going to see me later - shop assistants, work colleagues, friends - all seeing me later.  Now in my part of the world see you later means see you later that day not see you some time in the future.  You know what I’m getting at here don’t you?  Does see you soon actually mean see you soon? - I reckon it does.

Well I’ve amused myself with a bit of historical research to try and add some substance to my hunch.

The WOAD tour was a bit of an anomaly as, to all intents and purposes, it was an extension of the Magic tour.  Before that, certainly recently, a tour has started at almost the same time as an album has been released :-

Magic released 02/10/07            first gig 24/09/07

Seeger released 25/04/06           first gig 20/04/06

Devils released 26/04/05            first gig 21/04/05

Rising released 30/07/02            first gig 25/07/02

Tom Joad released 21/11/95      first gig 21/11/95

So are we waiting for another album release or is he going to tour with The Promise material?  You know, I think Bruce really believes that his newest stuff is his best.  It’s not so odd.  Most artists, when asked which is the favourite of their back catalogue, nearly always reply that they like the latest album the best.  I wonder whether Bruce will be reluctant to tour with just older stuff as understandably wants to be seen as current.

Bruce put in a brief appearance on last week’s edition of Imagine - a programme about Ray Davies.  Only about 30 seconds or so during which he was goofing around and recording the duet from Ray’s latest album.

This reminded me that I forgot to mention The Promise - The making of Darkness… was featured the other week - in the same series.  Basically an edited version of the documentary with a nice little BBC intro. Despite the fact we had already seen it this was of course still an event in our house - can’t miss our man when he’s on the BBC you know!  The World and his Wife rang, texted or emailed to tell us it was on including my 80 year old mother in law.  We saw/heard Bruce and thought of you seems to be a bit of a mantra in our family.  Still it’s good to think we are remembered from time to time and I have certainly no problem with being associated in someone’s mind with Mr Springsteen himself!

Well that's it for now.

Happy New Year  to you all.

Hope to seeing some of you - including Sinead's mum - this year at a Bruce gig … or three … or half a dozen … or !!!