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Showing posts from March, 2017

A rich man in a poor man's shirt (Springsteen part 2)

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In 1984, Bruce Springsteen released Born in the USA, which broke him as a major star in Britain. I’ve never been a particular fan of the title song, nor of ‘Dancing in the Dark’, and the latter seemed to anticipate a wider shift in the charts to an American pop and AOR that I had no love for. Two of my formative music shows of the early 1980s, The Tube and Whistle Test, both eclectic and with regular live performances, were soon to be cancelled, the latter in favour of a horrid Jonathan King confection called No Limits, full of pap. I remember hearing people on the radio who had been to Springsteen’s live shows and were wowed, but the rhetoric of ‘the Boss’ put me off. That is, until I heard ‘I’m on Fire’ on Top of the Pops, when it showed a couple of minutes of the video as it became a minor hit. And I thought: this is subtle, especially compared to the bombast of ‘Born in the USA’; I liked the dark persona, the spare instrumentation of ticking rim- shots and picked guitar. And I th…

Black and White

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I’ll start this post with Roy Orbison, though it isn't really about him. On 30 September 1987, along with contemporary luminaries Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, kd lang, Bonnie Raitt, and Elvis’s TCB Band, Orbison gave a concert to a select crowd of celebrity fans and well-wishers at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles. It would be broadcast early in the new year as Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, and it was indeed shot in black and white. I remember it well, not least because my Dad was quite a fan of the ‘Big O’ and I’m pretty sure I would have watched the concert with my folks when it was broadcast in the UK, when I was home from university. Most of the songs are now on YouTube and look, and sound, wonderful, Orbison’s voice at age 51 as powerful and smooth as in his prime. And what a prime that was: from 1961 to 1965 he had hit after hit after hit in the UK and the US, culminating in ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’, his most famous number, which sp…