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CD Review: Bruce Springsteen, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions – Poguetry in Motion

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Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen’s new disc, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, is the best Pogues record I’ve ever heard. I mean that as a compliment, too — I play If I Should Fall From Grace With God a lot more than I play Born to Run, and We Shall Overcome has that same perfect mix of folk directness and rock and roll energy — all it needs is a few pennywhistles and you’d swear you were listening to “Fairytale of New York.” On a couple of tunes, Springsteen even tries out a growly Irish accent that makes him sound like Shane MacGowan, only a Shane MacGowan who isn’t about to puke into the bass drum and pass out dangling by his shirt collar from the mike stand.

If you thought Springsteen doing an album of folk standards was going to sound like compulsory chapel and a side order of wheat germ with broccoli, then disabuse yourself of that notion immediately. This is a fun record. I bought it in Hoboken, put it in the Alpine on Observer Highway and was singing along full blast by the time I got to the Pulaski Skyway. The mix of accordion, banjo and fiddle is too infectious to believe, and everybody on the record clearly had a whale of a time – a joy they put across most effectively.

This is the New Year’s Eve celebration you always wanted to be invited to, the bar where juke box has nothing but great songs and everybody sings along, and the house party that gets rolling early and doesn’t let up until the morning paper hits the front door. If a record can get me to sit still for “John Henry” again, you know it’s got to be good.

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About Steven Hart

  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    Wow, great review. I want to go out and buy this right bloody now.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    you know, that whole “everybody playin’ in one room” sound kept giving me the tip of the tongue (or ear) experience. The Pogues, that’s it!

  • http://hbbeverly.com HB Beverly

    I agree whole-heartedly. This could be a HUGE seller when the word gets out that this isn’t the same old hit-you-over-the-head type of message driven serious poetry that his last two decades worth of releases have been about, and that it can actually make you feel like dancing, clapping, and singing along.

    It’s better late than never, but I wonder what took him so long to get the feel-good stuff back out there on the market? It’s almost like there was a concious desire to keep the public at large away over the years, while he sang to the deepest core of his fan base in smaller and more controllable numbers,(only a few million, as opposed to 15-20 million, like in ’84-85.

    Whatever the case, welcome back Bruce to the land of the living – it’s good to see you like this again!

  • Jrbq

    This may be a good CD (I imagine it is– I bought it without hearing it), but it does not play on a Mac iBook. this is the first time a CD or DVD would not play on my computer. I don’t think this is a good thing.

  • http://www.theopinionmill.com Steven Hart

    Is it that security crap they slapped on it? I don’t play CDs on anything but my CD player, so I’m not harmed by this programming, but I hear it plays hell with computers.

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