Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Chris S., Aug 24, 2015.
Bleh...I was flac-ing, ripping and torrenting when you were in shorts and suspenders
I think you have me mixed up with Spanky.
I find that the whole "Bruce should have listened to Steve" perspective is generally another way of saying that Bruce should have stayed in New Jersey, never should have worked without the E Street Band, never should have become well-read, never should have tried to rise above his rather meagre childhood intellectual environment and become a more sophisticated person...
I like Steve a lot and appreciate what he brought to Bruce's music, but I'm not a fan of the sort of musical conservatism that Steve seems to advocate. A Springsteen who never produced a Ghost of Tom Joad or a Nebraska or a Seeger Sessions would be a far lesser and less interesting Springsteen to me. There seems to be a sort of anti-intellectualism prevalent in a segment of Springsteen fans, and if there's one thing in the world I stand firm against, it's anti-intellectualism.
This is not unique to Springsteen either -- I see it also in the frequent barbs cast toward people like Sting and Robbie Robertson in other threads here and elsewhere. It's as if when you aspire to (and actually DO) produce work of lasting and literary quality, you are somehow "putting on airs" and being "pretentious", particularly when compared (usually unfavorably) to more "regular guy" cohorts like Stewart Copeland and Levon Helm. To me, Copeland mostly seems like a jealous idiot next to Sting, and Levon, while surely a brilliant singer and musician, possessed neither the artistic vision or raw intellect to ever be considered on an artistic par with Robertson.
Oddly enough, Dylan seems to get a pass on this, perhaps because he has always been a solo artist (the Traveling Wilburys excepted, but they weren't really a true band). Joni Mitchell sure didn't, but that's probably mostly due to sexism.
All that said, I am probably reading WAY too much into this.
Fans think all kinds of silly things, but I don't think steve would have objected to most of the things in your first paragraph. In fact, I believe steve was a prime advocate of releasing Nebraska as-is.
I think maybe what people are saying is that once upon a time, steve Van Zandt represented a valuable viewpoint that was a key ingredient in some of Bruce's best work. That viewpoint may have helped head off some of Bruce's more unfortunate choices later on.
I'm not trying to make Steve Van Zandt into some kind of oracle or anything like that. And yes, he tends to be pretty Orthodox about things. But I don't think it's a coincidence that Bruce released some of his most middling work during the period he was estranged from steve. It's not the reason. But it's a reason.
( I'm probably reading too much into this too)
PS. I agree on your point about anti intellectualism. Both Bruce and Steve are highly intellectual. Hell, steve took a decade off to educate himself on everything from apartheid to Buckley vs Valeo (look it up).
Many people have the unfortunate opinion that if you're a rock and roller, you should be drinking jack Daniels and smashing up cars.
Voice of America is terrific, imo. One of my favorite albums of the 80's! He had his finger on the pulse of a few social and personal issues for a few years therein that helped inform his material and he had the tunes and arrangements on that particular album to make it work. Fwiw I don't really care for Men Without Women though I know LS fans swear by it so I 'raise' one 'profanity' to those 'swearers' to get an idea about my own feelings for Voice Of America as I am 'all in' on that album. In general, I think both Steven's influence and his own talent doesn't get enough mention but it is what it is. FWIW I had been meaning to start a thread about his own work, collaborations, contributions, but haven't gotten around to it and don't plan to. Re: Bruce, other than a few really key songs I find Ghost of Tom Joad pretty much a bore for me and while Nebraska is terrific, I so seldom listen to it. I think not being part of the band and Bruce's music eventually negatively impacted Steven and his own work and life too, maybe not immediately but eventually.
To me, there are two sides to SVZ: the classicist who channels the Drifters, The Temptations and The Rascals. The other side writes overtly political, synth-drenched songs delivered with the subtlety of an anvil on the head.
I am one of those Springsteen fans who LOVE his "diversions" from E Street Route. Tom Joad is one of my favourite albums and I really enjoyed We shall Overcome. I think I understand what you mean and although I quite agree with you re: anti-intellectualism, it's also true that Bruce has been issuing stuff lately which tried to sounded "modern" but it did not feel like he was trying to sound good. That search for a modern sound (see Morello's uneven contributions to High Hopes) would not have happened if Steve had a say and I think in THOSE cases the final product might have been better.
Pretty much my sentiments exactly!
The Rising was a big dissapointment to me. Half of the songs are pretty good but it doesn't sound like an E street band record. I really dislike how it was produced and arrranged.
So maybe keeping Steve in charge of the band isn't a bad idea. I'm sure it would have sounded way better than Brendan O'brians crappy production
Oddly enough, the albums that were originally lambasted for poor production (WIESS for example) have really stood the test of time, whereas others that got 'the pro treatment' (BITUSA, TOL & HT) have not aged well and sound dated.
I haven't listened to the Rising in years.
There were 16 source concerts for Live 75-85:
* 7/7/78 Roxy
* 11/5/80 Tempe AZ
12/28/80 Nassau Coliseum
7/6/81 Meadowlands Arena
8/6/84 Meadowlands Arena
8/19/85 Giants Stadium
9/30/85 LA Coliseum
The 4 concerts marked with the * have been released through the Archive series so far.
And of those not yet released, I would guess we'll get Winterland for December (or as the Christmas bonus show).
Plus, it surprises me we still haven't got an '85 show. I could foresee that as another possible release before year end.
From 1982 to 1999, Steve went from being the Soprascals to A Flock Of Stevegulls to waiting around for ten years.
A friend of mine lived in the same neighborhood (Middletown NJ) as Steve in the 90's. Apparently, Steve spent a good part of that decade walking his 5 lb Shi-Tzu around the neighborhood. In full Little Steven gypsy/punk regalia.
I satill wonder if I'm the only person in the world who loves Outlaw Pete!!!
......which rips off The Icicle Works Birds Fly!!!
To hear the difference between Steve and Nils just listen to Trapped from the River tour and then from the BITUSA tour. Steve's backing vocals far outstrip Nils more precise singing.
I think it's safe to stop wondering.
If someone tried to bottle the water I get at my apartment, they wouldn't get a penny for it!
What's funny is that Steve himself released some pretty middling sounding stuff after he left Bruce in the mid '80s. Or at least what Steve was writing and releasing certainly wasn't garage style rock ala "The River".
He was completely into, what I would probably label, as a mix of dance, soul, and world music (and it wasn't necessarily very good dance, soul, and world music). 1987 brought us the Freedom - No Compromise album. 1989 gave us Revolution -- which didn't even warrant a release in the US. So I don't buy that Steven would have righted the ship when it came to some of Bruce's poorer musical choices in the late '80s and into the '90s -- Steven himself wasn't making the best of musical decisions during the same period that saw Bruce do the same.
Case in point being the remix of '57 Channels'. All Steven and pretty horrible. He missed the mark completely on this one and he went too far with it. A simple 'rock' remix of the song, without all of the newsclips and the chants, could have saved the song somewhat -- at least on rock radio perhaps. The remix ended up being bloated and missing the mark. If the goal was to make Bruce relevant in the changing musical environment of 1992, and I do that that that was partly the goal of the remix, Steve failed miserably.
In truth, I don't think that Bruce was writing the songs between 1987 and 1992 that would have benefited from 'rock and roll' Steve -- but even if he was writing those types of songs, 'rock and roll' Steve had left the building during that time anyway and he probably would have added elements that wouldn't have brought out the best in those type of songs.
His comment to Bruce aside about "should have had the E Street Band record the Human Touch material" (any fool could have told Bruce that after hearing the album), I have to disagree with you that Steven's presence would have helped Bruce in any sense during that time period.
I believe Steve was right about wanting The River to be all rockers. I wish that had been - that songs like Roulette, Where The Bands Are, Loose Ends, Take 'em As They Come, Restless Nights etc,
had all been released then, and thus performed on the very high-energy (esp. compared to later tours) River tour.
As much as I like all those songs, I have to disagree. To me, the ballads are the soul of The River, and give the album needed balance. It could have easily been a triple album.
Not a rabid fan of either but that seems like a cheap shot.
What you have to remember is that Bruce, circa 2001, had finished the reunion tour and the world was waiting for the next big E Street album.
They had tried to cut some tracks in 2001, American Skin for example, that came out sounding pretty lifeless. No buzz and didn't sound 'new' -- and I think Bruce wanted the sound of the band to be updated and new. An E Street Band for the 21st Century if you will.
So the old crew of Bruce, Landau, and Plotkin were shown the door and they went searching for someone that could offer some insight into giving his music a current feel.
And like it or not, I think BO'B accomplished that in spades.
The album is bloated and they threw too many tracks on it for its own good (it should have been a nine or ten track album -- cut out the flab in the middle and it's better imo), but I think they accomplished what Bruce wanted by making it an E Street Band album, but different.
Now...BO'B's contributions to Devils & Dust wrecked those songs.
Just the opposite for me. The Rising sounds lifeless and I rate D&D highly.
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