Given his early-career ambivalence about stardom, Bruce Springsteen is fortunate this live recording of a historic mid-'70s London show is being released 30 years after it was made.
Springsteen was so wiggy about the hype associated with the release of "Born to Run" and appearing on Time and Newsweek's covers the same week that by the time he got to London he was scared to death of any more attention, even though he was relatively unknown across the Atlantic.
Turns out the show that makes up the "Hammersmith Odeon" release, and that also was filmed for a DVD that it is included in the reissue of "Born to Run," makes for a quintessential mid-'70s double live set. Had it been issued at the time, Springsteen would've likely joined Peter Frampton, KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and scores of other bands that used live albums to vault to superstardom.
This two-disc release, which is not included in the "Born to Run" reissue, features a dream set list ("Backstreets," "Jungleland," "Lost in the Flood," "She's The One" and 12 more songs), a band that was on fire, and a front man just realizing his power as a performer.
Highlights are scorching versions of "She's The One" and "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," a frighteningly intense "Backstreets," and reminders that the E Street Band was a great soul band on tracks like "The E Street Shuffle" and "Quarter to Three."
Released as a two-CD set, the package comes with enlightening liner notes written by Springsteen.
This is a must-own for diehard Springsteen fans, but the uninitiated may want to pick up a copy just to see what the fuss was all about.
- ROD LOCKWOOD
Chestnut, an incredibly gifted Baltimore-bred pianist, shows a warm and rich appreciation for the art of the jazz combo, joined by Michael Hawkins on bass, Neal Smith on drums, Russell Malone on guitar, and Steve Kroon on percussion. Eight of the 11 songs are Chestnut originals, including three gospel-infused treats and the hot licks of a fast-paced song, "Mason Dixon Line." There's lovely syncopation and chord progression at various junctures, as well as a confident sense of pace. The pleasure is in listening to a natural piano talent whose ear for music seems to be maturing along with his obvious keyboard skills.
- TOM HENRY
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, known in combination as Goldfrapp, reference sundry musical styles and influences: There's '80s-sounding electro; neo-psychedelia ("Koko"); a touch of rock ("Lovely 2 C U"), and more-mainstream pop ("Fly Me Away"). For all that, the duo sounds at its best when it ditches the electro ambience and slows down on the artfully produced, atmospheric, and melodic "Let It Take You." Lyrically the disc is fairly undistinguished, and while Goldfrapp's music is clever and enjoyable, it also comes across as smart exterior with little substance.
- RICHARD PATON
The creator and frontman of the popular Roomful of Blues gets back to basics with this 14-track collection of solid guitar grooves. Rather than a full-blown package complete with piano and horns, Robillard emphasizes his guitar in a stripped-down delivery with fewer backup musicians. The disc is a treat throughout. From hard-core roots blues to soulful and jump blues, Robillard shows that he can handle every format with a solid backbeat and sizzling guitar dexterity. A special treat is a blues version of the Irish folk classic, "Danny Boy." The album is due in stores this week.
- KEN ROSENBAUM