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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

FOR THE RECORD-Ben Harper Live @ The Lowry (28/04/14)


By Our Side.

Spirits kindred. I just knew Ben Harper was my favourite singer/songwriter not named 'The Boss' that is this generations American legend and icon Bruce Springsteen when I read it. When I read years after listening to his music that he was actually a huge basketball and Los Angeles Lakers me! When I saw that he used to read the Los Angeles Times sports section every morning over breakfast, growing up to be captivated by the "3D" (I think Ben's pictured it perfectly here) words of the late, great, Pulitzer writer Jim sportswriting inspiration. No wonder I have the lyrics to 'Morning Yearning' tacked on my wall next to Springsteen's 'Secret Garden' for everyday inspiration. No wonder I was moved to tears hearing one of my favourite actors, the late Heath Ledger directed the beautiful video of that song, while Harper returned the favour by writing 'Happy Everafter In Your Eyes' as a personalized lullaby for Heath to sing to his daughter. No wonder seeing this amazing acoustic setlist with the girl who not only introduced me to my favourite singer but the love of my life too-who I so happily got to show how good this singer really is this night-was something so special. I just hope somehow, somewhere Ben gets to read this over a cup of coffee, toast and two scrambled eggs like something from Murray's mind and just see how much this all means to this small town kid with a California soul thanks to guys like these.

Now the question is how does the hardest working man in music with more bands to his aid than a box of plasters manage to fit in an acoustic tour? Because judging from the back of my tour t-shirt bought from the merchandise stand, he's only getting started in a tour list so epic it over runs the two and a half hour sets he put into this epic one man and his strings concert series. The hardest working man who has made classic albums with The Innocent Criminals ('Burn To Shine'), The Blind Boys Of Alabama ('There Will Be A Light'), Relentless7 ('White Lies For Dark Times'), Fistful Of Mercy ('As I Call You Down'), and most recently blues legend Charlie Musselwhite, for the Grammy winning 'Get Up' album that is about to have its own sequel, has got more for his classic catalogue that is as amazing and underrated as his own legend. The guy that's always on hand with the classic covers (see, hear 'Sexual Healing' by Marvin Gaye or INXS' 'Never Tear Us Apart') or compilation and soundtrack soundbites (from his 'Strawberry Fields' Beatles cover for 'I Am Sam' or his 'Beautiful Boy' mastering for the John Lennon tribute album) has got more off the shelf and is about to release another duet album, but this time with his mum Ellen Harper in 'My Childhood Home' to mark this American mothers day. Still you could buy and preview this wonderful work here via an early release on the merch stand, or the fact that Harper brings his mother dearest out for a couple of new classics during this concert including the tear and nostalgia moving, opposite Vandross values of 'A House Is A Home' from the snow swept off the front porch to the dogs bare-bone backyard.

Ben also build with this tours stellar support act Tom Freund, who comes out on classic cello bass to show the type of backing he gave Harper before he was famous on the 'Pleasure And Pain' days. Still just like 'Give 'Till It's Gone' and 'Fight For Your Mind', Harper sings and shows he is more than just the getting by from the little help from his friends going solo. Set in the Shakespeare ready Lowrey theatre in music capital Manchester's outstanding oasis of the Salford Quays this postcard, picture picturesque place is the perfect setting for even more boundless beauty and also doubles up as the sunny Summer underscore to your day and perfectly still, abroad feeling, peaceful tranquillity after dark hidden treasure of this big city. Decked out in his trademark shirt, jeans and three stripes combo with his new trademark fedora, Ben Harper's amazing array of incredible instruments from his families half-century running record store adorn the Lebowski style rungs that tie his concerts together. From the pianos to the acoustics and the legendary sitting slide and two little boxes you and he before they came into the store had never seen before. The last time this writer saw someone as big as this on the personal acoustics of this more intimate setting it was the prolific Ryan Adams in the bunker Barbican theatre in London and this gig had the same look and feel it may as well have been the same place with this vast auditorium hidden-away in Manchester's quietest get away. As soon as Ben began 'The Power Of The Gospel' front-stage, guitar in hand without a microphone the room was his, as strong in faith and following as his word. No talking, no photographs and certainly, strictly no phones, this is how live music should be and after seeing him live first at a crowded festival it was much better to get physically and musically closer to one of the modern greats. Even my friend who got to see him in Paris first and now got to hear some of the 'Paris, Sunrise', 'Fight Outta You, 'Lifeline' album tracks that where recorded in this French city knew this was something special.

Following showing how vast his vocals really where, he extended his range to his influential instruments and family and friends amazing us with his versatile sound, style and catalogue. Ben once said that the trouble with his music in this digital day and age of iTunes cherry picking is that someone looking for a hard-rock track may be turned off if they come across one of Ben's beautiful ballads or vice versa but after night even the most ardent, arms crossed, concert bring-a-long will be converted to fandom. From the meaningful 'Excuse Me Mr' Lenny Kravitz 'Mr. Cab Driver' (with the shadows of his stetson, brim-low making him look like he was wearing some trademark Kravitz shades) like moments to the epic screaming shouts of believing in a 'Better Way' these words really did "feel pleasant as they fell upon our ears". Sublime songs like 'Forever' and 'Another Lonely Day' where given their fond favouritism as where old and new classics like 'Welcome To The Cruel World' and 'Don't Give Up On Me Now' alike that even with their dark depths showed the lyrical lessons learned in all Harper's classic, 'Both Sides Of The Gun', coin-sided couplets. Even when you thought this set was going to be short and sweet, the ever sincere star returned hat off and head bowed to gratefully grace us with an epic encore all the way to the 'Amen Omen' signature and inspirational instrumental sign off-minus microphone once again-that reminds us just how real this guys range is from 'Suzie Blues' bliss on the uke, to new Musselwhite music with the forthcoming 'I Trust You To Dig My Grave' dedication. Between some serious storytelling that kept us all engaged and closer with helpings of heart and humour, Harper 'Ground One Down' and also gave us a 'Hallelujah' for a new classic cover showing that from all he does for others to what he brings himself this is truly one of the artists of our time with just a few of his signature strokes shown on this set. As the unplugged Ben Harper laid it all out, simple and plain over acoustics, nothing could sound more eclectic or electric. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


Relentless Ben.


GET UP! That's the name of Ben Harper's latest album and collaboration with blues legend Charlie Musselwhite, but maybe it's time for everyone to wake up to one of the worlds best singer/songwriters. When it comes to the Johnny Cash like legends of American recordings and leading music men icons it would be hard to see past the legendary worn jeans of every man entertainer Bruce Springsteen and the spokesman of the people for the best part of a century, Bob Dylan and his legacy. Still with a songbook as prolific as the number of acts he's associated with, the man with more groups than benefit concerts is our generations true American singer/songwriter for the people. Currently on an earth turning acoustic tour the man that strummed alongside Jack Johnson and Eddie Vedder for some pearl jams is showing the deepest depths of his character and craft. Still, the man who can rock and roll out the slow numbers is still somewhat criminally underrated in this modern mainstream market, even though there is a cult following loyal to his underground legend.

Maybe it's because of just how dynamic and diverse he is. Some people say a jack of all trades is an expert in nothing, but in this case that couldn't be further from the truth that is Ben. Sometimes when someone works so hard and so much and does it all so well, people fail to acknowledge exactly that after awhile. They get used to how good something or someone is and take it for granted. Still, that isn't going to stop Harper from working on his art and music. He has his own opinion too, once telling an interviewer that in this iTunes cherry-picking age someone looking him up and looking for some hard rock may find an acoustic number or vice versa and be disappointed depending on their desire. Such is this mans range and dedication like the electric Dylan or acoustic Bruce. Such is the fire and ice sides of a man who can go from joy to pain in many a song or expressed emotion. The same man who wrote 'When She Believes' can also sing 'I Don't Believe A Word You Say' and this is why the multi-instrumentalist crazily has won Grammy's for both best 'pop performance' and 'gospel album'. The eclectic, epic, energetic output is matched by no one in the industry today and tomorrow he'll get back to work once again. From his lap steel guitar to his slide one, this stand up guy has broke boundaries and broadened continents from a seated playing position. The humanitarian activist with an amazing live set has so much to add to the listography of his already classic career. From folk, to blues, to soul, to funk, to reggae, to jam rock and even neo-folk. It all started in Californian for the middle-named Chase, Cherokee and African-American ancestry and Jewish upbringing that made it's way to the worlds stage in 1992 with some 'Pleasure & Pain'.

What more can you expect but inspiration from a man that saw Bob Marley play when he was 9? When his collaboration with Tom Freund (look for another one soon) came into peoples limited-edition playlists, it was clear this artist was here to stay. Virgin records where so impressed they gave him a lifetime deal...and what a deal it's turned out to be. Two years later we where 'Welcome To The Cruel World' with classics like the beautiful 'Waiting On An Angel' and the bold Martin Luther King Jr/Rodney King race protest 'Like A King'. He even collaborated with prolific poet Maya Angelou for the inspired 'I'll Rise'. Between the fire of having a big heart for love and the ice of a soul with something truly to say, Harper showed both sides of the gun, the Elgin Baylor (fire) and Jerry West (ice) of this Laker fans work that would make for his career and legacy. It didn't stop a year later when he brought his backing band 'The Innocent Criminals' along for the punch of 'Fight For Your Mind'. The album that inspired a college radio revolution is still a Harper hallmark today. 'By My Side' is the truest testament and 'Another Lonely Day' has had a live face-riff-lift recently, while the continuing protests of 'Excuse Me Mr.' still resonate today. From the opening 'Oppression' to the fire of 'Burn One Down' and shine of 'Gold To Me', in one album Harper gave as many classic track as some songwriters have today in their whole discography. The worldwide talent continued to go platinum overseas in Australia and France with 'The Will To Live' album (including the spiritual 'I Want To Be Ready' and 'Jah Work' and the grand 'Fighter' film ready 'Glory & Consequence') and 'Burn To Shine' and it's fun 'Steal My Kisses' single that even got a hip Pharrell, Neptunes remix for its beat-boxing hop. 'Alone', 'The Woman In You', 'Beloved One', 'Suzie Blue' and 'Please Bleed', gave even more classics to the catalog that still last for set-lists and playlists.

The million man mover almost went literally diamond with his next one, as his coming of mainstream age album 'Diamonds On The Inside' went platinum to the tune of six times around the world. His first album of the new millennium marked a new beginning of brave beauty with the likes of 'When She Believes' and the heaven sent 'Amen Omen'. Adding more strings to his bands bow with his own two hands. That and the albums title-track where and remain huge while 'Brown Eyed Blues' and 'Blessed To Be A Witness' continued his specialist skill-set in his diverse range. As Ben sings "I have heard the wisest of wisdom/And I have dined in palaces and kingdoms/But nothing is as beautiful/As when she believes" it's clear he's not forgotten who he is, where he's from or who he's doing it for. A year later he reached out to others in his spiritual quest however, as he aligned with the legendary Blind Boys Of Alabama for 'There Will Be A Light' a grand, Grammy making gospel album that inspired and influenced and could even lift the heaviest of hearts. From the '11th Commandment' to a 'Satisfied Mind', Ben saw the light with his boys from Alabama and with more classics like 'Well, Well, Well' and 'Where I Could Go' coming alive on the concert album (that you can add to the set-list of classic, release live pieces) let's hope this collaboration one day makes it to church on time again. In the shadow of the light, Ben reunited with his 'Innocent Criminals' two years later for a defining double album which is truly his best.

'Both Sides Of The Gun' yet again gave both sides of this mans coin but afforded much more than that in the darkest depths and boldest beauty of this mans most personal work. The opening tracks of this album really play perfectly back-to-back. Beginning with the moving violins of the most beautiful song 'Morning Yearning' (which is so pure and poetic, the lyrics are on this writers wall next to Springsteen's equally string beautiful 'Secret Garden') to the wonderful ballad 'Waiting For You', bordered by 'Picture In A Frame'. The 'White' and 'Black' titled sides of this album show both sides of the singers musical personality perfectly. The sweet 'Never Leave Lonely Alone' was matched with the strong 'Engraved Invitation', like 'More Than Sorry' and 'Get It Like You Like It' and so forth. Real highlights came from the instrumental break of 'Sweet Nothing Serenade' into the yearnings of 'Reason To Mourn' on 'White', or the bold, call to inspiration arms of 'Better Way' to kick off 'Guns' 'Black' disc and many a political campaign. The man who screamed how he believed in a better way, showed it with this powerfully proven album. The child of The Beatles even had a little help from his friends as late, legendary Australian actor Heath Ledger brought an equally beautiful, classically arty video to his homeland for 'Morning Yearning'. The ever gracious Harper, returned Heath's favor by writing an equally beautiful lullaby for Ledger's daughter in the heavenly 'Happy Everafter In Your Eyes'. As Ben sings "Couldn't leave you to go to heaven/I carry you in my smile", today these words are as heartbreaking as they are moving.

Ben had one more swansong with 'The Innocent Criminals' in his 'Lifeline' which saw a 'Paris, Sunrise', being recorded and toured in France. As fluent as he was in the language, he was in making simply another perfect album. Rehearsed during sound checks and recorded in analogue this 7 day made album was anything but a weak affair with the strong single 'Fight Outta You' and the vibrancy of the 'In The Colors' portrait. 'Needed You Tonight', 'Heart Of Matters' and the title-track struck more chords but this would be the last track and album to date for the hero and his criminals who really should do one last job together...again and again. Two years later Harper cranked up the amp for rock outfit Relentless7 who debuted on the 'Black' tones of 'Serve Your Soul' off 'Both Sides Of The Gun'. Here on a solo collabo and tour which should really garner more, the collective shimmered and shined over instant classics like 'Up To You Now' and 'Lay There And Hate Me'. Exposing some 'White' worthy acoustic purity in the harmonizing 'Faithfully Remain', haunting 'Skin Thin' and harrowing 'The Word Suicide,' before inspiring everyone with the truly uplifting 'Fly One Time' and it's courage knows no boundaries video that would be perfect for a Red Bull commercial. The 'White Lies For Dark Times' was as creatively vivid and deep as it's title and as colorful and as Summer vibrant as its artwork. As Ben sang, you had to live his life to get 'Boots Like These' and boy did the man who's recently adapted to wearing stetsons truly earn his hard rock spurs. Further collaborations came in a 'Fistful Of Mercy' with Joseph Arthur and George Harrison's son Dhani in a skate-park in Santa Monica that led to the amazing 'As I Call You Down' album and it's title track, band-name track and the genuinely undeniable 'In Vain Or True'. Fans who miss acts like Relentless7 will be pleased to know that this acoustic big-three will be releasing more Fistfuls Of Mercy with their own three hands soon.

After all these acts Ben went solo again for 'Give Till' It's Gone' with a little help from his Beatle friend Ringo. Whom he returned the favor backing his album like he did with a Dixie Chick (producing Natalie Maines new L.P.) for even more collaborations. Relentless7 logged some studio time however and what resulted was one of Ben's best albums across the board possibly only rivaled by his last solo set 'Both Sides' or 'Diamonds'. Following the live debut of the emotive 'Feel Love' and the literal 'Rock N Roll Is Free' download, Harper harked on with the bold cry of 'Don't Give Up On Me Now' and the deep desperation of 'Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn'. Writing from the heart this tattooed warrior inked more of his real reputation with the delightfully defiant 'I Will Not Be Broken' and the cranked up 'Dirty Little Lover' and it's grimier conclusion 'Do It For You, Do It For Us', that finalized an instrumental album of fire over ice inspired writing and playing. The 'By My Side' greatest hits of ballads retrospective and the nice new track 'Crazy, Amazing' followed, but if anyone thought this collection was Ben's way of saying he was done or at least a little dusted was wrong. Rightfully so Harper returned this year to 'Get Up' on another collaboration with blues man Musselwhite. He and Charlie slipped and slid over classic iron strong strings with tracks like another classically titled break of 'I Lost Another Lover (You Found Another Friend)' and the western draw of 'I Ride At Dawn'. It's the pleading , blues treading of 'We Can't End This Way' and the "There's a man on the corner/Begging for help/There's a man that walks past him/And he's drowning in wealth/Who doesn't understand/How disappointment destroys the soul" insightful, introspective lyrics that may just be one of Ben's best songs in not just years but his career. Now what's next for the man who is going it alone yet again for an amazing acoustic tour around the world? Well anything from the guy that's covered everything from Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' to Michael Hutchence's 'Never Tear Us Apart' with INXS and 'Strawberry Fields' with his own forever making twist. Or how about another duet album this time with his mother on mothers day with 'My Childhood Home'? Sounds perfect right? Collaborating with saint and criminals and with the potential to reunite them all, what could possibly stop the hardest working man in music still on a quest for relevance respect for his just cause?

Not fire...not ice.

Saturday, 26 April 2014



Along Came A Soundtrack.

"Spider-Man, Spider-Man! Does whatever a Spider can"! Yep, we're sticking to the script and still singing the praises of Peter Parker's new generation web-slinger played by the amazing Andrew Garfield. After the franchise changed faces by rebooting and reduxing away from the Maguire cheesy "show me the trilogy" series, this phase 2 of the spandex spider is given a supercharged sequel of superstardom. Electric charged by Jamie Foxx's formidable foe and given more accented angst of young teenage to adult life with the friendship/relationship dynamics with Garfield's co-stars Emma Stone and the new young legend on the block Dane DeHaan. This superior sequel is truly the ultimate amazing Pete Parker shot of the hero that swings between the buildings of lower Manhattan. New York's finest may offer us more than Marvel's greatest movie in what looks like their best year for this scorching hot, Summer blockbuster season that has also seen 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier' freeze over that Polar Vortex we had to battle with this Winter and is about to see the ultimate X-Men mash-up The Avengers could never have the right to do in 'Days Of Future Past' to go with the fun and fancy 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' for your enjoyable entertainment. Stan Lee's favourite son may also make for the best blockbuster of the year that see's 'Transformers', 'Planet Of The Apes' and the movie monster that is 'Godzilla' about to take the city and cineplex down to the ground. Now with great movie power comes great soundtrack responsibilty and the only thing that could match the electric charge of this movies sensational, lights out showdown in Times Square between our hero and Electro is one great score. So, with Sony taking it back to the studios they are better known for they throw down a slam-dunk of a record, dunking harder than Peter Parker did in the first film, or those guys down the road from Times Square in Madison Square Garden do.

Forget 'The Sinister Six' led by Harry Osborne's Green Goblin and the great, hero genre breaking, spin-off sequels they are about to make. Spider-Man has 'The Magnificent Six' on his side. Who are they you ask? Isn't that the question of the day! This is the future...and you're really going to want to see this. Who better to score your soundtrack than the movie legend that is Hans Zimmer? The producer and composer that has made almost every soundtrack you know from 'The Lion King' to 'Spanglish' and is just that versatile and brilliant. With a strong sound that could make John Williams' work feel like its being played on a triangle. The man that Christoper Nolan goes to for 'Inception' inspiration is best known recentely for his wonderful work and the dark depths of his sensational sound that made 'The Dark Knight' trilogy that much more epic. If you where hoping to rock out to Aerosmith's 'Spider-Man' theme or Nickleback's Chad Kroger's 'Hero' here I'm sorry but trust me you wont be disappointed. You see, the great German who really knows how to set the tone for the texture of pictures maybe known for his haunting and harrowing work (see his latest violin piercing, puncuation that is truly scary on the Oscar winning '12 Years A Slave') has been keeping his ears to the pop scene and sound from his studio dungeon and when it comes to a film that mixes Marvel's classic fun and serious super genre who better to team up with than the happiest guy alive? Pharrell Williams is basically the Zimmer of the popular music world. Producing everything from Britney Spears to Jay-Z with his out of this world, 'Star Trak' Neptunes board workers, all whilst making 'Rock Star' hits with his N.E.R.D. group and not 'Frontin'' on his own solo career. Like Hans the amount of greatest hit records this guy has had his hands on is catalogue, classic countless and if that wasn't enough he's moved into the soundtrack scene and almost won an Oscar if it wasn't for the cold front of 'Frozen'.

Still Pharrell can let that go, "leeet it goooo" because his work on the 'Despicable Me' Minion monster series (we can't wait what this guy has in store for the yellow guys solo outing) has offered him with some of his best work and sunniest success days from the theme to basically the best song out there at the moment in 'Happy'. Which beyond the Electro star cameo video, the Academy awards and the tears on Oprah is the biggest viral infectious, dance for joy, positive, upbeat single for any mood, season or genre. The cold never bothered him anyway. You can't beat it or bring it down, the only words that do it justice are it's own, "happiness is the truth". If you thought his 'Blurred Lines' with Robin Thicke and T.I. and his 'Get Lucky' moment with Daft Punk made last year his best in a career of dominant decades, than you haven't seen or heard anything yet. Williams teams up with Zimmer, the guitars of rock god and Smith's legend Johnny Marr and Incubus S.C.I.E.N.T.I.S.T Mike Einziger, and the Eurythmics of Dave Stewart to show us sweet soundtracks are made of these. The Magnificent Seven couldn't even round up the rest like this. From giving Jamie Foxx's Electro his own paranoid, spider-sense, voices in the headphones theme to his own dub-step, electric charged suite that will make those 'Man Of Steel' mockers at 'Screen Junkies' 'Honest Trailers' prepping their next youtube smash there's a peculiar but perfect sound her that works whether your watching the action or unfold or working out in the gym and looking for some epic, inspiration on your iPod's running and lifting playlist. From 'We're Best Friends' to 'So Much Anger' it's clear this sounds characterization is 'Still Crazy' like the loner turned Sparkles that is Electro and this is what makes the theme of this current thorn in Spidey's web so illuminating. The Green Goblin he gets sticky with has his own sick themes too. All short of a Green Day song for this 'Dookie' turned bad-guy Parker wants to say 'Good Riddance' to. Having the time of his life however, Spidey has his own epic-music too. Set to some 'Good Morning America' news theme, get up and go introduction for his headline worthy high-line act around the Empire State and every news helicopter in-between.

Still if your in need of an 'Empire State Of Mind' then how about New York's own Alicia Key's who gives this stunning soundtrack it's stunning first single in 'It's On Again'? It's new rap king Kendrick Lamar who steals the show in 30, fast seconds flat here however with his bold and brilliant bars of "And everybody know the story of David and Goliath/But this is bigger than triumph/This is for the warrior, this is for you and I/This is for euphoria, give me a piece of mind/God is recording this! won't you look in the sky?/Tell him you got the behavior of your neighbor/Even when stability's never in your favor/Fly with the turbulence, only last a minute/Land on your dreams, and recognize you live it/Walk through the valley of peace, with bare feet/Run through the flames, that's more passion for me" that end this film perfectly leaving you wanting more like those Marvel after credit "surprises"! It's not just this soundtrack song that adds more singles to this scintillating score. There are some beautiful ballads in Phosphorescent's 'Song For Zula' and The Neighbourhood's 'Honest' that not only match the coupling of Parker and his muse Gwen Stacey perfectly but also make for your new favourite songs whether your reveling in a relationship of nursing the wounds of a broken one. With lyrics like "Waiting, always waiting/If I gave you control would you say that we could've saved it?/I hope you find a way to be yourself someday/In weakness or in strength/Change can be amazing/So I pray for the best, I pray for the best for you" it's clear there's more to this deluxe disc than remixes that show Zimmer is the new...well Pharrell. Speaking of the impeccable 'Despicable Me' scorer that is Mr. Williams it's only right that he has his own moment to shine on this soundtrack...even if actor/singer Jamie Foxx doesn't (didn't these guys hear what he did for 'Any Given Sunday'?). Over someone elses perfect production for a change, the hardest-working man in music gives someone else and us something sounding like nothing he's done before (and this is the guy that just made us all 'Happy' remember?) in the pop ballad 'Here'. One that even best's The Neighbourhood and Phosphorescent as his versatile vocals sing "And I, I promise on all existence/If it breathes then it is our witness/We have unfinished business/You and I/And so my word is that I'll cross those bridges/With zero regret for limits". It doesn't get much better than this and as Pharrell makes this record his own with Hans Zimmer, our Spider-Man has the ultimate 'Magnificent' team to go with all those 'Sinister' enemies he has to face. As 'Artists Unite', hash-tag THAT for your world-wide-web. This is one assemble to Marvel at with all it's avengance. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 19 April 2014



Higher Hopes.

Drop the needle! It's time to hit your local record store...if you can still find one that is. Then again this is what today's, 'Record Store Day' is all about. An international celebration of viynl on the third Saturday of every April to save the scratches of a hallmark format for music in a day and age that has seen the rise of MP3's and iPod's rendering the compact disc extinct...and let's take a reel moment for those poor, deck to deck cassette's too. Remember making those 'I hope the D.J. doesn't talk over this radio recording' mixtapes you used to make for the one you lusted over in school? Somehow and somewhere in this digital age of iPad's and Kindle's, records and the crates you find them in are striving and surviving. It may be due to the downloadable, MP3 code most carry now. Or the testament to the traditions of old-school romanticism which is thankfully the reason books and the beautiful libaries they exist in still stand, shelf by shelf today. In most towns and cities you can still find your local, neighbourhood, favourite independent record store and its this culture that this day celebrates bringing together artists and their fans in a jukebox spin that would make the Fonz proud hey? The 'Happy Days' of this weekend warrior tradition is turning even faster for the music geeks equivalent of a comic-book store this year with many big artists getting involved from the best of British band Coldplay, to the legend David Bowie himself, to go along with many more like The Doors and R.E.M. classics. Still, amongst all this new and old, megastar and indie talent there's one record by one man that everyone must raise their needles for. If anyone in music epitomises the success over struggle, hard-working notion of a local boy taking on the world with his well, worn boots than it's New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. Now the boss is back yet again with something special that years from now will become a rare hidden gem that you may just find with the rest of this testaments treasures.

Here he is ladies and gentelmen. He's back after a three-month layover. For the record and for this day there's nothing more fittingly perfect than some new and classic Springsteen from the boss himself. Recentely on the second-hot streak of his post-middle-age career that started with New York's 'Rising', this generations American icon hasn't stopped 'Working On A Dream' with 'Wrecking Ball' like 'Magic' in this new milleniuum. The man who holds some of the most iconic records in all music in his classic catalogue from 'Born To Run' and 'Born In The U.S.A.' to 'The River' and 'Nebraska' has recentely given the winter worn blue-collar, blues feeling of the start of the year a new lift with his epic, enthusiastic energy. Just call him 'Mr. January' as he's owning the start of the years he continues to rule with his epic three-hour concerts set all around the world. This year we where given even more 'High Hopes' as Springsteen released a redux album of old B-Side, covers and live material that was magnificent and fresher than most young bands first, fantastic feeling records. With a Rage Against The Machine assist of 'The Nightwatchman' Tom Morello, E Street was paved with new power for this generation as rocks king over Prince stormed through some stellar classics at a new sonic speed from 'American Skin (41 Shots)' to 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad' to go along with Suicide's alive 'Dream Baby Dream' and the latest singled out success 'Just Like Fire Would'. Burning bright with even more B-sides of the record, Bruce had so much cutting-room floor material to master through that he even had to leave some records off this set, like only the man with the Dylan rivalling songbook can. Thankfully though for the collectors and the bootleggers we have a real find now as The Boss brings four of the most formidable of these tracks to the forefront going all Kevin Spacey for the 'American Beauty' E.P. for the record stores today. Like a million rose petals flying towards you this is iconic beauty of America like a classic movie...but this is a classic release for the record collection and Springsteen catalogue. You can put this next to the 'Chimes Of Freedom', 'Blood Brothers' (which birthed the original 'High Hopes') and 'Magic Tour Highlights' (that birthed the Morello marriage on the alive, live 'Ghost Of Tom Joad' reawakening) E.P's of Springsteen's extended play best.

From the built for a frame on-your-wall, cool cover you can tell this release is a classic and no throwaway, cashed-in side project. From it's Californian cool atmosphere to the off-cream, classic American car adorned by a denim clad girl sitting on the bonnet, this could be Frankie or Wendy ready to take a trip with the young Springsteen out of town and to the highways of the American dream. 'American Beauty' indeed, like the title-track that leads off with feelings of classic Springsteen with a inspired vocal twist from the baritone boss who keeps showing how underrated his range is (see and hear the falsetto on 'Lift Me Up'). As the Spring sings "I remember last summer drifting through our eyes/We're in the high grass, my finger in your hemline" this season his evoking lyrics and inspiring sound make a welcome return to the fans fondness like they've been missing and waiting for him for years, not months. More new/old classics are embraced with these outstanding outtakes as the man and one of his favourite muses come together for the unshackling of 'Mary, Mary'. After 'The Risings' leftover 'Harry's Place' (a 'Hopes' standout) was replaced with 'Mary's Place', there's nothing contrary here as she returns for more Bruce on this E.P., as the lyrics "I heard they seen you yesterday in Charles Town/I heard about that story going round round/All I got's a book of love with pages worn clean through/A circle of gold and one bleeding tattoo" lament. More storybook songs with lasting lines like "Lipstick case and one lonely red shoe" are found on the 'Hurry Up Sundown' classic that is king even amongst modern American greats like Leon. It's the closing wave to 'Hey, Blue Eyes' however that's the brightest and best way of showing this boss Bruce is an American icon of Sinatra way power. Asking the woman that's caught his dilated pupils "what she's doing tonight" and telling us in tale-told tradition that "it's alright", Springsteen harmonises "In this house it's so easy to set a world on fire/All you need is the need and the money and a soul full of reckless desire" amongst some of his most lyrical immpecable verses...and this is the boss with the realest resume of words. On this Record Day, the tradition of Bruce Springsteen has honoured this one with some of his best work and all music can do in these fitting times of survival. The American dream has never sounded so beautiful. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014



Widows Peak


In Scarlett's web, under the beautiful skin of one of Hollywood's hottest celebrities and women that could give Angelina Jolie a run for her make-up foundation is a superheroine that is also the best young actress talent around today not named Jennifer Lawrence. About to celebrate her 30th birthday with arguably her best year yet, it won't be long before 'Her' herself, Scarlett Johansson will be Oscar's Academy favourite when it comes to the worlds best actresses like current best Cate Blanchett and the legend that is Meryl Streep, the Daniel-Day Lewis of Academy actresses. Right now the throwback to screen starlet's Scarlet is more than just a pretty face. The red hot talent of Johansson has more subtle acting skills and smarts that most wrongly ignore from critics to fans too busy looking at the wrong side of her performances but the best side of her face. Simply put the complex characters that she brings to stage and screen are all part of the no make-up, real and raw catalogue of modern movie cinematic classics that make her not only one of today's best, but most underrated talents in this entertainment industry. If you're still not convinced that this woman can do it all then just watch what she's been doing recentely, from saving the world as a super assassin to providing more bite as an alien posing as a normal woman in Glasgow of all places. Scarlett strolling around Scotland is nothing normal, but in this life less ordinary it doesn't matter because everyone is falling for her man killing sex and style appeal. Even Johnny Cash couldn't help from falling in love the first time he ever heard just her voice.

This model talent is more than just the studio time that keeps her gracing the pages of every magazine out there from the cover shoots to the perfume ads. The woman who appeared in superstar singer and sideshow actor Justin Timberlake's 'What Goes Around...Come Around' after Mandy Moore's 'Candy' video is more than just a big name for a music video. She's the type to make music too. Just listen to her solo offering of Tom Waits covers in the 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' album that is hauntingly smouldering and a beautifully evocative album with a cinematic feel, that her senses give us on the screens too. It's not just her 'Iron Men' Avengers co-stars Robert Downey Jnr, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges who have had much better than critically advertised music releases. These albums for the record are something to marvel at just like Electo Jamie Foxx's eclectic career of high notes or all the other actors and actresses who have gone the opposite route of Sinatra straight to the studio, giving us something that is bigger than their Hollywood name...a real record for their career playlists. We hope Scarlett releases more shades from the studio, as her duet album with Pete Yorn (the underrated, top singer/songwriter of our day that could soon put himself next to the Ray LaMontagne's and Ryan Adams) was as chemistry classic as a White Stripe or Norah Jones (her smouldering sexy Miss Jones rivalling vocals have even teamed up with the late Dean Martin for a Christmas Rat Pack favourite) and Billie-Joe Armstrong of Green Days' 'Foreverly'. The 'Break Up' album and its real, huge hit 'Relator' came together for a perfect songwriting concept and partnership and her sole outing on 'I Am The Cosmos' just may be among this writers favourite songs...ever! Scarlett's a true artist when it comes to this genre too and give her as many projects and years as she's had acting and the multi-talented superstar may just prove she's one of mainstream musics underrated, female best too.

It all started for Scarlett however when she was 10 in 'North', that Elijah Wood film with the pink bunny. Two years later saw an Independent Spirit Award for her powerful performance in 'Manny & Lo', but something told us like a Leonardo DiCaprio before her or a Chloe Grace-Mortez now that she was going to be more than just another ageing child star for the Culkin culture. 'The Horse Whisperer' echoed more of that before the new millennium saw her gallop and leap and grow and mature into the young woman and actress she was meant to be. This is when the 'Sexiest Woman Alive' became truly symbolic. The New York born and bred girl from Danish, Copenhagen and Jewish Bronx backgrounds is a very versatile and chameleon character. Much more so than the critics give her credit due for. Growing up with little money but more than a buffs share of movies, Scarlett lived and breathed cinema and its movie making backdrop home of New York City, even gravitating to Elementary school graduation in the famed Greenwich Village area of N.Y.C. home to cultural and artistic inspiration and every star that gets there's from this coffee house and guitar district like guys called Dylan. This is why there was 'Just Cause' for this girl to play James Bond's daughter in a 1995 Sean Connery film 'If Lucy Fell' before another 'Fall' and another 'Home Alone' (3) had Scarlett falling into success and leaving everyone else slapping the sides of their faces and wide mouths in child abandoned, aftershave applied shock. Good Scarlett is just that great, from her youth to adult performances that are more than just maturity...there mastery. Here's a girl that's offered a career most women decades her senior would die for...and she's got nothing now left but time thanks to all she's already put on the clock. You just have to hand it to her for all she's given to the movie world, even if most critics have their arms folded, they've embraced the films she's been in.

Just like after a river ran through a Robert Redford American classic about pretty horses, Johansson squealed through 'My Brother The Pig' before linking up with the classic Cohen brothers for the bold 'The Man That Wasn't There'. 2001 saw more praise for her perfect performance in the haunting 'Ghost World' which showed the spirit of her sensitivity, acting style and as a result success. Then along came some spiders for some fun in 'Eight Legged Freaks'...hey even George Clooney had to start with 'The Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes' before his career sauce. Real growth and greatness came in 2003 via Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray and Japan for one of modern days greatest 'Lost In Translation'. A friendship and love story tour-de-force through the navigating of the neons of classic city Tokyo in all its beautiful inspiration but lonely isolation for a young and old traveller both life and love weary. From the iconic and supremely sexy opening shot...yep it has to be said, to the charismatic and charming chemistry between the leading couple of Americans who find each other further East, it was no wonder Scarlett came home with a BAFTA as Murray permanently laid down the concrete foundation that his weird and wonderful style made him one of the greatest. It's a role like this-just shy of 20 years old-that saw Johansson leave her teens and tweens in more ways than one for an adult role that showed her amazing growth and range. Murray had to wait decades and generations before his greatest role, this generations best gave one of hers before her time. Who knows what she'll do in her already classic career catalogue by the time she's ironing out the 'Groundhog Day' wrinkles. If Jennifer Lawrence is a young Meryl Streep, than Scarlett is the starlet throwback that centuries from now will be reminiscent and wished for like the Loren's and young Monroe's...and she deserves at least an Oscar by now.

The 18 year old continued the beyond her years growth with 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' as she fast became the big and many movie hardest working actress she still is to this day. The presence of her husky voice and engrossing expressions made her a complex creator of her craft in more ways than just a singular sensation. Some 'Spongebob' vocal booth appearances soaked up more work before the 'In Good Company' comedy and the dark 'A Love Song For Bobby Long' gave more box office receipts and critical praise receiving and singing for the screen siren. Alongside Ewan McGregor in Michael Bay's sci-fi 'The Island' saw more blockbuster success for this all-round talent of all-films as did her service to Woody Allen's 'Match Point'. The New York actress and director collaborated again with Australian Hugh Jackman for another 'Scoop', but it was the film-noir of 'The Black Dahlia' that was a read all about it affair for Josh Harnett coming off his best 'Lucky Number Slevin' with shades of 'L.A. Confidential', a lot of sex appeal, sinister secrecy and hush, hush. Things got really great however for Scarlett and her reunited screen partner Hugh Jackman for 'Dark Knight' director Christopher Nolan's 'The Prestige', also starring Christian Bale. This was the 'Inception' of Nolans best work as Wolverine duked it out trick for trick with Batman, as the Black Widow played the background. This powerful, period 'Prestige' piece was true magic. A short film feature for Bob Dylan's 'Modern Times' ('When The Deal Goes Down') gave more rhyme to the reasoning that most of America artistic talent harks from the village of New York's Greenwich. 'The Nanny Diaries' with Laura Linney and 'The Other Boleyn Girl' with Natalie Portman showed more dynamic diversity alongside some of actings best. Still Scarlett's best was about to come out from the shade.

Her third curtain call with Woody saw her travel to Spain for 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' for another role that wouldn't be lost in translation in bold and beautiful Barcelona. The Frank Miller graphic novel noir of 'The Spirit' also saw this stunning star throwback to the testament of the femme fatale she seemed destined to be born in a different era for. Although it was no 'Sin City' it did show us that this is the true 'Dame To Kill For' if only hey, because here's someone even better than Alba. 'He's Just Not Into You' (which featured her covering Jeff Buckley's 'Last Goodbye' beautifully on the soundtrack) became the latest fangirl favourite rom-com in 2009 but Scarlett was always meant for something with more meaning and that's why the sweet and sincere 'We Brought A Zoo' is one of her most amazing and underrated attractions for all the family. She also starred as a victim of 'Psycho' in the 'Hitchcock' biopic starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, enough to finally cement her star on the Hollywood Work Of Fame after all her years of great groundwork. The work that sees her hand to ass kicking, super S.H.I.E.L.D assassin Black Widow character (that from 'Iron Man 2' to 'The Avengers' films (featuring the 'Age Of Ultron' sequel where she high-kicks whilst months pregnant in a catsuit...WOW!) sees her in almost as many Avenger flicks as Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and is top of the Natalie Portman, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings., Gwyneth Paltrow fanboy marvelling list) gives 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier' her characters most complex and deeply dark turn yet, terrifically teaming up with Chris Evans for this years best superhero film. A year that sees Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with 'Her' vocally for the Oscar worthy futuristic 'love APPtually' cautionary tale of modern day dating and love. A modern day run of 12 months or so that has shown this 'SIRIous' talent show Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 'Don Jon' a real bubble gum popping, take no b.s. accented Jersey girl bigger than her off Broadway theatrical talents with Ethan Hawke and the on ones in 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof'. Now if you thought that was man eating just wait until she takes you round Scotland in a truck 'Under The Skin', between the black lingerie sensual and sexual, full frontal backdrop to the sinister made-up, wig and fur wearing alien that stalks and kills the men of Glasgow. Weird...yep!'re damn right. If you took this pick-up to the 'Thelma & Louise' roads of Route 66 then you'd probably have another American classic on your hands, but here it's otherworldly like the Danish/American star herself whose about to cook up 'Chef' and personify new love in 'Lucy'. Scarlett Johansson, when you talk about her you're talking about an American classic heroine that's out of this world. Showing us once and for all that this Black Widows beauty is much more than just skin deep.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Hopes & Glory Days.


(Featuring lyrics from my own songs in dedication)

"Greetings from a seaside town that looks like Asbury Park/You can see the light of those same last laugh amusements after dark/Another round for me & the boy from New Jersey/I want to hear just one more story"-Another Round For Me & The Boy From New Jersey.

"WE NEED YOU"!! A man shouts from his car passing by the boss on what was not just another ordinary day in New York City. Raw and ravaged after the September the 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 that destroyed this great cities landmark and broke it's heart, this terrible terrorist attack did more than change the world for the worse. It also saw many men and women lose their lives and many families lose their friends, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. It's almost impossible to believe its been over a decade since this black day in world history. Now some kids who lost their parents as children will be parents themselves. Nothing could ever erase the hurt and pain, but there is always help and from the completion of the Freedom Tower to the city uniting together from firefighters to members of the public doing their part, the greatest, most famous city in the world has rose again. Still, when the city needed a little more hope the everyday folk wanted to turn to the man from neighbouring New Jersey who has been with them in the blue-collar, bootcut jean trenches of everyday honest and humble work everyday despite the million album sales. They needed their true boss back and as Bruce Springsteen heard this mans cries from the sidewalk he decided to take action and do what he's best as...write songs for the people. It had been almost a decade since rock and rolls greatest hope and this generations American icon had released an album (1995's acoustic and atmospheric 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad') but with 'The Rising' he gave one of his classic catalogue career's best albums. With it's anthemic call to open arms title-track to his lament to the towers ('Empty Sky' and 'My City Of Ruins') and his writing from the perspective of both sides who had lost lives on this fateful day ('You're Missing' and 'Paradise') this album was really what the city of New York and the world watching and feeling an affinity to this place-even without ever visiting-needed. Once again Bruce put the heart of the people into the soul of his work and carried their hopes, fears, dreams and devotions on his broad, boss shoulders.

The soundtrack to the cities recovery may not have been as heroic as the efforts of the emergency services and families trying to restore freedom and a foundation but it certainly was as heartfelt and wasn't just another record. It set something off in the boss himself too as he then went on to release six albums (and counting) since in a decade or so after following his extended hiatus. A break which began in the late eighties when he fired his E Street Band before his solo outing through the 'Tunnel Of Love' following the very public divorce of his private life. Still showing he was 'Tougher Than The Rest' Bruce soldiered on and released two underrated and great albums in '92 ('Human Touch' and 'Lucky Town') before giving way to 'Greatest Hits' and compilation packages like the epic and fan-endearing vault of 'Tracks'. Still since 'The Rising' reunited him with the people and his own band off E Street, Springsteen has gone stellar with a songbook that even rivals the great Bob Dylan one as he puts himself next to the legendary likes of Neil Young, Johnny Cash and his inspirations Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Modern great singer/songwriters like Ben Harper, Norah Jones, Ryan Adams, Beck and more can only watch in inspired influence like The Killers and The Gaslight Anthem at the legacy this man is leaving with every album or three hour stunning concert set that proves all night that he's still got it...and more to boot. The only middle-age, out of this world time talent that could come as prolificlly close is the artist known as Prince, but even the reign of the purple one knows the boss is king. From the acoustic 'Devils & Dust' of political punching that may as well have been the second coming of Tom Joad's ghost to the old irish testament of 'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' in honour of the recentely dearly departed Pete Seeger, Sprinsgteen keeps going through love and loss. He even sadly lost his soul and saxaphone and his 'Born To Run' right hand man with the death of Clarence Cleamons in 2001 following the loss of another family member in the dynamic Danny Federici. Still through the turmoil and tragedy E Street's lights our kept on through the might of Max Weinberg and Soprano stars and many more family members who may not carry the name Springsteen but hold his heart and street address.

A Rage Against The Machine from the Nightwatchman has also seen Tom Morello join this band on tour following Steve Van Zandt's 'Lillyhamer' television sessions. Steve may be a long way from Miami but he's still part of Springsteen's concert communion. Still, Morello's mastering gives the second-wind and streak of Springsteen's 'second-career' more youthful revolt and epic exuberance than Bruce dancing at 60 like Muhammed Ali in the boxing ring himself. The greatest now has a raging sidekick and you can hear and feel just how good this sounds on Springsteen's latest 'High Hopes' that takes this title-tracks and other B-sides, leftover and concert takes (like 'American Skin (41 Shots)' a Diallo tribute rewoke in honour of Trayvon Martin who was killed by a nightwatchman last year) to a whole new album that is a fresh, new feel and more than just another catalogue compliation. So much magnificent material from 'The Risings' leftover 'Harrys Place' (it seems the album preferred visiting 'Mary's Place') to the alive cover of Suicide's 'Dream Baby Dream' that sounds as good as Cash covering Nine Inch Nails 'Hurt'. So much material in fact that the man is going to release his best extended play since his 'Blood Brothers' one (that featured the original inspiration of 'High Hopes'). Going all Spacey with 'American Beauty', that looks to be classic Sprinsgteen viynl from it's girl on the cover on the bonnet of a classic car to the 'High Hopes' leftover album leftovers themselves in 'Hey Blue Eyes' and 'Mary, Mary' that escape the cutting room floor shackles. These outstanding outtakes will find themselves next to 'Chimes Of Freedom' and 'Magic Tour Highlights' (which featured the first time Morello and Springsteen got together on the riff raging remake of 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad' that can also be found on new 'Hopes') among the best E.P.'s of a man that has a classic catalogue in itself when it comes to compliations, live albums, bold and beautiful bottlegs and even studio albums from sessions that are better than most artists albums. Just like the double 'Promise' that came from the 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town' (an album title thats inspired a script this writer is penning) and finally gave fans 'Because The Night' , a classic that birthed Patti Smith's career. Now don't get us started on the hits this guy writes for other like Prince, because nothing compares to him.

You'd think that was enough but this is a man that has relased real 'Magic' since 2007 for what arguably may be the best time and tracks of his career. From the Obama rally calling change of 'Working On A Dream' to the 'Wrecking Ball' swing of 2012 this is the man who is the new Mr. January, relasing albums to start the slow-C.D. crawl of a year that generally likes to recover from its hetic Christmas/fall November release celebration before the Grammy party. Springsteen defines and dominates it all, changing the industry that needs his inspiration whilst refusing to change into something he's not in the process. Always expanding but keeping his core sound and moral belief integrity intact. In 40 years this guys has released almost 20 full albums and countless more compilations for the record. From his 'Touch'/'Town' like double start in 1973 with his 'Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.' and 'The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle' to the moment his career was 'Born To Run' with his biggest and most iconic album and single that was his legendary careers birthright. After the megastardom came 'Darkness' and his trip down to 'The River' twice, before things got real with his one man trip to 'Nebraska' accompanied by only his acoustic his heart and a lot of hurt. With four of his top albums in a row the man showed just how much range he had ripping through lifes raw realities and sparing a change in sound for the everyman despite earning the career that could have seen him alienated to the Hollywood hills or maddening mansions. The only 'Mansion On A Hill' worth its salt was one worth singing about for the man whose given us everything, even the right to bootleg. If only we could hear him go 'Electric Nebraska' like Dylan in the eighties...who knows, maybe one day. His top five before E Streets slide through the 'Tunnel of Love' was completed with his classic and most commerically successful release 'Born In The U.S.A.' with a classic look of a bandana wrapped around his head and at the peak of his powers and fame this man made new friends and even had time to pull Courtney Cox on stage for a dance in the dark. Even today from t-shirts in tribute to even some (I'm sorry) terrible but testament tattoo's you can see the blue jeans and red and white flag of this American classic, but when you really read between the lines of the title-track anthem you really begin to see who Springsteen is singing for.

The people, all over the world, regardless of race or creed. Everyone has their favourite Sprinsgteen song whether its a love ballad or a song that rocks a world of wrong to its conscious core. For example, this writer-who has even wrote songs dedicated to this man (the title of this article being one)-has the lyrics for 'Secret Garden' (you can imagine I loved him playing it live in the U.K recentely for the first time in years...and no it wasn't for me, but boy would I wish it was) on the wall of his bedroom (adorning his man cave with the decoration of many a classic Springsteen viynl kindly given to me by my gracious girlfriends generous pops). There for everyday reminding, get up and go inspiration next to Abraham Lincoln's "Whatever you are, be a good one" quote as he tries to turn his waiting on life into a writing one from the bored boardwalk walk of his own seaside town like Asbury Park, complete with the electric lights and broken down rides of its own amusement park. As great as this small town is the Springsteen dream of leaving town with the girl of your dreams in a classic car for real America is still one this man holds as dear as the love of his life he found, following a life searching for inspiration that guys like Springsteen influenced. The boss has been there for me on many a dark night, lonely graveyard shift walk home to the early night of an early start the next day. That's just me and it may be crazy to some that a song from Tom Cruise's 'Jerry Maguire' in all the wonderful work this man has done is the one that moves me (although the epic 'Devils Arcade' also moves me to tears of tribute) but that is just me and for you it could be anything. This is a guy that has done so much with his career from the big 'Hungry Heart' and 'Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)' fond hits to the soundtrack success of everthing from 'I Am Sam' to the credit of starting Jack Nicholson movies with the marvellous 'Missing'. This is a man who found an Oscar with his sublime 'Streets Of Philadelphia' classic and it's movie montage mixing video from a Tom Hanks (arguably the American actors equivalent of the boss) movie, and that song isn't even considered top-ten for some Springsteen die-hards or better than his wonderful woe 'Wrestler' devotion for a Mickey Rourke modern-day classic. This is a man who writes live records for the 'Wrecking Ball' tearing, take-down of sports stadiums and then completely reworks them for the acoustics of albums he names in that honour. As big businesses swing through peoples pride and glory, the man who brought 'Glory Days' to those same people on a stellar Superbowl Sunday is their for the people in the seats and not the zeroes on the cheque. Now that's a true hero.

You can find greatness anywhere you go with the tracks of Springsteen's career. From 'Atlantic City' to the fabolous falsetto and formidable range that the high-notes of 'The Complete' 'Lift Me Up' reach. From 'Happy' to 'Trouble In Paradise' or 'Jungeland' to 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out' ,there are songs you know and songs you're about to love. This guy even turned 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' into a new classic and continues to leave people something to start the deep and dark winter of a year that follows the taking down of the Christmas tree. Searching for just one Springsteen song is like vacuuming through pine-needles, but in this space of sound your playlist or old cars C.D. changer (can you believe we're saying that now in this day and age he still dominates) is full of fond memories from a man who has never given us reason to switch the dial since his songs where first turned and tuned into the radios airwaves for the record. This is a true American beauty and legend. We could list all his songs, live sets, or outtakes that haven't made their own compilation yet and we could write down article after article of the pages of long and lasting lyrics that make his songbook more of a story one, but you either know or are about to learn for yourself you how much this mans pen and paper has wrote for the heart and soul for not only every part of himself but every man and woman, boy and girl from Terry to Frankie and of course Wendy. It's his everlasting kiss of his underrated great guitar hero playing to the steam that rises of his iconic silhouette like smoke as he plays Harmonica down 'The River' through epic sets from Glastonbury to a local Jersey bar where we hear another story, hanging on to every word of his lyrics and epic introductions. We don't need an autobiography ( we stand on the shelf) as the amazing tributes from Clinton Heylin's quote and bootleg research to Robert J. Weiserman's mixtape of by-the-song inspired chapters of life tell us. Words just can't do justice to this man, not even the personal song lyrics of my own that I leave you with not as a trite plug but a pure tribute to what one man has not only done to one kid but everyone else in the world. Whether a Jersey boy or a girl young or old from all over the world, this is the inspired legacy that the legend of Springsteen continues to leave for the hard-working people as their ends meet. The working class hero with the heart and spirit of a God, Springsteen is there for us and all that we can overcome and become and that is what this great life of love is made of. That is the true American dream.

"We'll take a ride in a classic car & talk about girls we loved & lost/Through a tunnel of love until valentines day can't get enough/Or when we're tougher than the rest/A man who may not be my brother but sure is best/As we hear clearly through stereo/All the places on this you and me journey we can truly go."-New Jersey Soul.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014



Cash Rules Everything Around Me.

Hello! Is that Johnny Cash? The Man In Black is back! Posthumously releasing albums like Tupac and still ruling supreme like a reign of fire burning bright from Nashville, Tennessee's 'Music City' to the rest of the world. From San Quentin to Rick Rubin, the man has recorded hundreds of albums and thousands of songs, even some brand new ones in many different languages for audiences in places like Spain and Germany. This takes the late legend from the Country Music Hall of Fame company of everyone from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to Shania Twain and Taylor Swift to the Nat King Cole territory of legendary likes. If you thought all these hit records from 'Rings Of Fire' to 'Boys Named Sue' where more than enough than this is a man who recorded 6 'American Recordings' albums with legendary Beastie Boy and Red Hot Chilli Peppers producer Rick Rubin to close out his life and career for some of his deepest, darkest and most decadent songs recorded to viynl from his haunting 'Hurt' cover of Nine Inch Nails to 'Aint No Grave' , his last album released after his death a few years ago that even showed the wild west of 'Django Unchained' a real lone ranger. Now those going through dollars and crates trying to complete the catalagoue and their Cash collection are treated with another posthumous album for their recordings of this real American legend from Kingsland, Arkansas. From the heavens where his soul resides we are sent 'Out Among The Stars', a shining record of the legends 'Legacy Recordings' from lost sessions of the 1980's that are now fortunatly found like the strong but sweet mans gentle and giant spirit. No longer on the shelf, even after death the Man In Black gives one of the highly anticipated and best albums of a year thats already seen releases from young legend Beck and THE American icon Bruce Springsteen and in turn as this record spins he lives on.

Billy Sherrill's production legend backs an album that sounds like vintage Cash but with plenty of 'new' tricks up the mans black sleeves to roll with the new punches in musical puncuation. After all the 'American Recordings' gave this man a great, new, distinct and dynamic sound, some country music fans wanted John to carry on tradition and we aren't just talking about the people whose letters are marked with a Nashville or Tennessee zip code. In a return to sender reply, thankfully for them this is hallmark John. How a great album like this was lying on the cutting room floor, gathering dust and disregard is beyond musical appreciation or sense. From a man that's released so many albums and records-even for foreign markets-its crazy how this became lost in translation. It makes you think what other music from this man is lying in wait? Still, seeing the light of the day now for the record this helps his legend play on like his classics make him live in our hearts and headphones to this day. Also like 2Pac fans craving all the C.D's he recorded by the hundereds of tracks knowing death was coming round the corner, we can't wait to hear what this country star has next in his loot of buried treasures. Heeere's Johnny! From the sublime single 'She Used to Love Me a Lot' and it's brilliant B-side remix with British legend and Liverpool's finest-not called The Beatles-Elvis Costello we can see that this record is no Cash cow. With E.C. and J.C., as the Man In Black, gets down with the man in black specs and another kind of Elvis the rock and roll great shows he's still as fresh as the day he played in front of an ignited crowd of inmates and threw down the dirty glass of water they had to drink from daily, setting their spirits free by standing with them like a chain gang.

Thank God, or more appropiatly his son John Carter that we have some new Cash like a Friday night payday heading for the stretch of road in downtown Nashville that's home to many bars and bands that will soon be covering this record too. Those who have been walking the line between watching Joaquin Phoenix's beautiful biopic to reading Johnny's amazing autobiogrpahy finally have something more to the meaning of this man. As John croons "I saw her through the window today/She was sittin' in the Silver Spoon cafe/I started to keep going/But something made me stop/She used to love me a lot", we see the lyrical testament and sacred songwriting craft that was the rhyme behind the reason of him being the best dead or alive. His muse may have loved him more in the past, but even in this present day his legion of fans will only see a future of nostalgia in his name. It's crazy to think that record execs almost dumped him after this shelved album and the low-seeling 'Baron' follow-up. Still you only have to read another country singer's autobiography in Shania Twain to see how the pop 'Man I Feel Like A Woman' and traditional country 'Whose Bed have Your Boots Been Under' boundary breaking star had barriers to boldly breathe through herself before becoming the biggest selling female artist and country star to the tune of 75 million that should impress them much. Besides when those same executives look for new work, Johnny will still be making cash for companies based on something more than the insensitivity of the dollar but the heartfelt comfort of peoples favourite records and all that means. From the albums beautiful opening album-title track to the sun coming out of a Springs day that this record will accompany this morning, there is so much more meaning to the former Sun Record stars music than just the mainstream majority. From classic covers (from Ed Bruce's 'After All' to Hank Snow's 'I'm Movin On') to duets with his beloved wife June ('Baby Ride Easy' and 'Don't You Think It's Come Our Time') this is musical matrimony. The best country album since Norah Jones and Green Day's Billie Joe-Armstrong collaborated and covered 'Foreverly' to close last years fall. A perfect marriage.

Fellow Highwayman Waylon Jennings broad backing gives 'I'm Movin On' and the first half of this signature set that much more strength in sound from an album that gets as playful as it does powerful. Take the fun 'If I Told You Who It Was' for example where our man convinces us of a liason with a country star for the perfect storytelling song of this genres terrific tradition and some gorgeous gossip for the rags of the followers of the riches. Who could he possibly be talking about? Lorretta? Dolly? By the time you've made up your mind it's already time to 'Call Your Mother' as Cash captures us with each tracks own tale and tug. From behind the wheel of a classic Cadillac as Cash sings more than he can afford, "She gave me my walking papers/and ran off with someone new/Cuz he bought her things/my wages couldn't buy", 'I Drove Her Out of My Mind' pays off as one of this songwriters greatest love lost laments in a country catalogue and genre that is full to the boots of them. Still Nashville's adopted own truly takes his spurs through the walk of country fame with his new hallmark, heart filled classic 'Tennessee'. A true tribute and new fond favourite, from the child choir backing him to the forefront of his loving lyrical testament to the State of the U.S.A's most traditional and historic music. The 'Rock and Roll Shoes' of the former rockabilly star keep clicking all the way down to the final draw of this album, from his singature timbre deep drawl. Ont the closing touch of 'I Came To Believe' you can hear and feel the hand of God that touched the Man in Black and the God of country music to the spiritual and meaningful end of his life. From humbly and honestly admitting "Nothing worked out when I handled it all on my own/And each time I failed it made me feel twice as alone" to devoting himself deeply with lines like "I came to believe that I needed help to get by/In childlike faith I gave in and gave him a try" the man that used to sing about "killing a man in Reno, just to watch him die" makes peace with the Lord as he tells us "Yes, I came to believe in a power much higher than I". A power that gave this man new life in his final days and now with this heaven sent collection from 'Out Among The Stars' we see, hear and feel the higher power that is this late legends legacy. One that will keep turning and turning every time this or a new collection of unreleased gems is spun again. The spirit of this mans soul will never fade to black. Quite simply, he really is still the man. TIM DAVID HARVEY.