Trying To Get To You

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Springsteen Single: "Working On A Dream"

Bruce Springsteen's new single, "Working On A Dream," is the free download at iTunes today. It's a "nice" song - Bruce is in early 60's pop/Roy Orbison mode, and the song has a pretty lilt to it. It's a ditty, but it's a good one. There is no threat of it ever being considered one of the great Bruce Springsteen songs. My guess is that they released it as the single because it's "thematic" in some fashion, related to Obama's election (Bruce debuted the song at the last rally he played for Obama) and inauguration.

What's interesting about the song is that it once again shows what an utter anachronism Bruce is. He's always been somewhat of an anachronism - mining veins of early 60's rock, pop and soul that no one else even thinks about anymore. He would have been an incredible house writer for Atlantic Records in 1962.

I can't say that "Working On A Dream" is making me impatient to hear the new album, but it's a hell of a lot better than "Radio Nowhere," and I ended up loving Magic. So there.

Here's a quick ranking of Bruce's lead singles:

1. Born To Run (Born To Run, 1975)
2. Dancing In The Dark (Born In The U.S.A., 1984)
3. Brilliant Disguise (Tunnel Of Love, 1987)
4. Hungry Heart (The River, 1984)
5. Badlands (Darkness on the Edge Of Town, 1978)
6. The Rising (The Rising, 2002)
7. Better Days (Lucky Town, 1992)
6. Human Touch (Human Touch, 2002)
7. Blinded By The Light (Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, 1973)
8. War (Live 1975-1985, 1986)
9. Working On A Dream (Working On A Dream, 2009)
10. The Ghost of Tom Joad (The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995)
11. Radio Nowhere (Magic, 2007)

Note: The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle and Nebraska did not have official singles released in the United States. (A video of "Atlantic City" was released to MTV in the fall of 1982, but I'm not counting that.) And I am ashamed to admit that I have no idea what the lead single was for We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. I'm pretty sure it was "Pay Me My Money Down," but I'm not sure if ever had an official release other than to AAA radio.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

AC/DC At MSG 11/13/08

If you had asked rock aficionados back in the 70’s what bands they thought would endure from the era, very few, if any would have put AC/DC on the list. But 35 years later, their legacy is intact, more potent and impactful across more generations than probably anyone, including the band, ever thought possible.

AC/DC work within a strain of rock that has long since diminished within the genre – rock that is about the endless good time; the hedonistic pleasures of (mainly) sex, partying and rock n’ roll, without any consequences. And it was that ethos that was in full display last Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, and it was one celebrated by a crowd seemingly looking to shed any feeling of responsibility for one night, and to remember fondly when it seemed like they didn’t have any responsibilities at all.

Opening with “Rock N’ Roll Train,” from their new album Black Ice, the band played a curiously uneven set, with pacing and song selection that didn’t quite work. New songs were sprinkled throughout the show and typical of older bands whose best albums are behind them, they served more as bathroom breaks for the crowd (who needed them).

Cliff Johnson and Malcolm Young continue to hold down the fort on bass and rhythm guitar, but drummer Phil Rudd was lagging most of the night, his force seemingly on the wane, and it was a loss for the show. Lead singer Brian Johnson’s range has narrowed and while he longer seems threatening (if he ever did), he benignly conveys the friendly lecherousness that infuses AC/DC’s aura of incorrigibility.
But of course, it’s Angus Young that’s the incorrigible one. Stepping out in his schoolboy’s uniform (one worn by more than a few people in the audience), Young strutted around the stage and ripped off those Chuck Berry meets Pete Townshend power chords that have been AC/DC’s hallmark. But the show felt curiously rote – a hollowing ritual of a band with diminishing power.

It’s predictable that most of the attendees last week would disagree with this assessment. They came to rock, and outfitted with official AC/DC light up horns, they did. It’s only rock and roll, and they like it. I just like it a bit more when it’s not only rock and roll.