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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.

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