Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool'

Out now is 'Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool', a 2 CD tribute to Bruce Springsteen on the Where It's At Is Where You Are label. Artists covering Bruce include Jeniferever, Help Stamp Out Loneliness, Gregory Webster, Doug Yule, Amelia Fletcher, Darren Hayman and The Wave Pictures. I came across the existence of this album via the Darren Hayman/Hefner website:

On the album Darren re-invents 'Rosilita (Come Out Tonight)' as pulsing, vocoded lullaby. He also plays bass and sings on 'Racing in the Streets' by the Wave Pictures even though the bastards didn't credit him. As well as this WIAWYA have released a split single by Darren and the Wave Pictures with two more Springsteen songs not on the album. Darren performs 'Girls in their Summer Clothes' and the Waves do 'If I Should Fall Behind'. If that wasn't enough copies of the seven inch come with a free album of the Wave Pictures doing a whole album of Bruce songs.

My copy of the vinyl single and the Wave Pictures covers CD arrived last week and ever since then I've been thinking about Bruce Springsteen. And the fact I can only claim to have heard about six of his songs. I've never listened to 'Nebraska' or to 'Born To Run', not heard a greatest hits compilation or the recent acclaimed Pete Seeger covers record or the many 'return-to-form' studio albums. I've never been to a gig, listened to a bootleg or watched a concert film.

I watched a couple of minutes of his 'triumphant' Glastonbury performance ("Bruce wins over another generation of fans..." etc etc) and thought it looked no different from any other snatches of footage from the last three decades. Despite the Glasto hoop-la, I still remain uninspired to listen to any of his music. But many, many bands I like not only cite him as a song-writer and musician they admire but also record his songs. And it is these covers, not Bruce's originals, that if anything would send me to listen to more of the Boss.

Listening to the five posted below the key to covering Bruce seems to be to slow-it-down and strip-it-back; the best example here being Ballboy's cover of "Born in the USA". I've struggled when people told me it was an anti-war song - given the clenched-fist-raised, stadium-rousing bombast the original is wrapped in. But get rid of the showmanship - and the chorus - and something else is revealed.

Bruce will be sixty later this year and no doubt he will keep churing out albums and tours. I may be missing out - but I think I'm going to keep listening to his music through other peoples' covers. And 'Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool' looks an excellent place to keep doing just that.

The Sash My Father Wore & Other Stories [BUY]

Cowboy Junkies
Whites Off Earth Now [BUY]

Camera Obscura
Live on MBR (via the Music Slut) [BUY Camera Obscura]

Jim Eldon
More Great Moments in Vinyl History [BUY]

The Wave Pictures
Play Some Pool [BUY]

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