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!