Each month, I contribute "Solomon Robson's Cd of the Month" to our local "bellbottom" magazine.
There's so much great music out there, and the Cd's featured are among my favourites from those played on the Local Global Show over the past few months
Every Monday I present the show on Bellingen 2BBBfm Community Radio. It's a mix of World, Folk & Roots with a bit of Jazz, Punk & Hiphop thrown in for good measure.
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Bruce Springsteen "Wrecking Ball"
Of late, the spin merchants employed by the Republican Party in the USA have been in panic mode. Due to the Occupy Movement changing the National Conversation, the air has all but gone from the Tea Party's sails and hardly anyone in their Party has cottoned onto the fact.
At least three "elderly" American musos have been paying attention. Late last year.Ry Cooder and Tom Waits both brought out brilliant CD's bursting with righteous anger. This month it is Bruce Springsteen's turn. Back in the Seventies, after the seminal "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" and the breathless, breakthrough "Born To Run", Springsteen allowed the punk phenomenon to inform his brooding classic "Darkness on the Edge of Town". But, to my ear, that was the last time he released a studio album without a single duff track.
The opening song on his new CD has an ironic delivery that is very reminiscent of "Born in the USA" - decrying the way people have been left hanging post-Katrina and post-GFC. "We take care of our own, wherever this flag is flown" is as critical of uncaring governments as "Born in the USA" was critical of the way war veterans are habitually hung out to dry on their return home. And it's just as likely to be misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem as it's predecessor. By the time we get through "Easy Money" ( where robbery feels like the only way out of poverty ) and "Shackled and Drawn" (where we are all shackled while the party is in full swing on Banker's Hill), the central character of "Jack of all Trades" is ready to take a gun to the bankers responsible for a repossession.
"Death to my Hometown", "This Depression" and "Wrecking Ball" all keep up in the same vein - decrying the lack of compassion in modern day America. Throughout this lyrical journey, Springsteen has become much more musically adventurous with his careful cherry-picking of so many genres - from rap (a beautiful vignette by Michelle Moore on "Rocky Ground") to full-blown Gospel choirs to Irish Punk-Folk a la Pogues, he has finally managed to fuse together the two previously diverse strands of his most recent musical ventures. The stadium rock of the E Street band has now had the riotous but virtuosic folk of the Seeger Sessions Band grafted onto it, and sounds so much better for it.
"Land of Hope and Dreams" and "American Land" are two rabble-rousers - old live Springsteen songs that have never found a place on a studio album before. Here they finish off the set, sublimely bookending "We are Alive" (itself surely inspired by Bruce losing so many of his friends and colleagues in recent years) and one of his most experimental songs ever - "Swallowed Up (in the Belly of the Whale)".
Springsteen saves up one of the most poignant, searing saxophone solos ever recorded by his dear departed friend Clarence Clemons to round off his best release in decades. If you are interested in the vision behind "Wrecking Ball", you can check out Springsteen's keynote speech to the SXSW Conference in Texas on NPR's website.