Saturday, 1 January 2011

Bruce Springsteen - The Promise

Another catch up piece. The Promise actually came out in November and most of you probably know all about it by now. However, despite that and the fact that it's by a world recognised artist, I thought it was worth a mention, due to the sheer quality of the material.
What you have is a double CD of 21 songs recorded around the time of Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but which didn't make the cut. Some have surfaced in different forms since, but some have been left buried for years. To think that while recording the follow up to the crossover album Born To Run, the record company allowed him to record forty songs, of which only ten made the final album and that there would be three years between the two albums is unthinkable nowadays, but the correct decision in hindsight. Presumably virtually no artists starting out nowadays will have the longevity that Springsteen has enjoyed. For now, simply take pleasure in the fact that Bruce has now seen fit to dust these songs down and give them the airing they deserve. That they were never intended as a complete album, makes the way they gel an even greater surprise and delight.

The Promise is out now on Columbia
Bruce's website is here

The Humdrum Express – Elevation Of Trivia

Another new album appears from mercurial singer songwriter The Humdrum Express. It starting with Keepin’ Score, in which he goes a bit Frank Turner on us, setting the world to rights. Other tracks like What A Carry On! have an eerie new wave vibe, this one specifically a bit reminiscent of Wire or Tubeway Army. While two contrasting bands in many ways, the comparison works. A lot of this is due to the production on the album, which has the vocals sound like they have an odd tunnelling echo effect on them. Two’s Company is much better with the effect lifted. The New Doctor Who is reflective and a bit Billy Bragg, while Battle Of The Blands side swipes interminable band competitions, populated by run of the mill acts doing uninspired covers.

There’s an element of Half Man Half Biscuit’s inspired wit as he takes pot shots at message board menaces (Message Board Hooligan) and in part armchair patriot football fans and other types (What You See). Rather than using straight in your face humour though, it’s down with a lightness of touch, merely pointing out the ridiculous, and letting you make up your own mind on things. The best is saved until last with Moral High Ground. In a volte face, he chucks out I, Ludicrous style pithy observations over a skittering industrial electro-lite beat. The vocals being nice and high in the mix you find yourself knodding in agreement at the remarks and being absorbed by the cracking beats.

Elevation Of Trivia is self released and available from The Humdrum Express website