COCKBURN BRUCE - HUMANS
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This 1980 set by Bruce Cockburn, one of Canada's pre-eminent singer-songwriters, marks a turning point, both lyrically and musically. His songs take on more textures, moving beyond folk into rock with "Tokyo," while embracing reggae on "Rumors of Glory." His political engagement really kicks into high gear, too, with fables like "More Not More" and "How I Spent My Vacation." Not unlike Bob Dylan, Cockburn can be a trenchant social commentator, one who isn't afraid of the acid attack, while maintaining a very positive, frequently spiritual outlook on life. While there's a touch of the personal in "What About the Bond," dealing obliquely with the breakup of his marriage, he looks outside himself on Humans, unafraid to criticize the world and hoping to make it a better place. --Chris Nickson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It still blows me away some 27 years later.
Motown south (Windsor)
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Musically, Bruce continues on the trajectory of incorporating more world influences beyond European, Celtic, that was certainly present on DANCING. While this is not quite as strong as DANCING, it is nonetheless full of terrific songs: the aforementioned "How...", "Tokyo", "Fascist Architecture." Bruce had also by this time assembled a crack band: Hugh Marsh on violin, Dennis Pendrith on bass, Bob Di Salle (who, with Pendrith, came from Murray McLaughlin's remarkable Golden Tractors band)on drums, Kathryn Moses on vocals and reeds, Jon Goldsmith on keyboards. Live, they were formidable! They gave Bruce that push to examine new textures and to take more chances with his own guitarcraft. There is a lot of greta and subtle displays on this disc. The bonus track is a great out-take from the trio tour with Ferguson Jemeson Marsh on Chapman Stick, and Michael Sloski from the Ontario Place concert that was the source material for his live CD of 1989. Perhaps, Rounder will convince True North, Bernie Finkelstein and Cockburn to release a DVD of that show. It was incredible - perhaps the best show I've ever seen in Toronto. In any case, another triumph for the remastering team!
But here, in Humans, you have the insufficient hope of reconcilliation in marriage "Gonna tell my old lady gonna tell my little girl there isn't anything in the world that can lock up my love again." It fell apart anyway, even though it was "sealed in the presence of the father". Here he has to take his estrangement along with his faith and struggle, much as Amy Grant, another Christian songwriter did later in Behind the Eyes. There are the great challenges to faith expressed in Festival of Friends earlier confronting murder, suicide, the guerillas, pulling cars out of rivers, despair..."at at certain point, you can only die." If art is born of agony, here it is. A quarter century later, I can still count on one hand the songwriters who have risen to his equal in moral vision, in insight and in skill. "I wonder if I'll end up like Bernie in his dream
A displaced person in some foreign border town Waiting for a train part hope part myth While the station changes hands
Or just sitting at home growing tenser with the times Or like that guy in "The Seventh Seal" Watching the newly dead dance across the hills Or wearing this leather jacket shivering with a friend While the eye of God blazes at us like the sun
Musically, he's growing with an ensemble here, further experimentations with Reggae, "something shining like gold, but better." The music is ecelectic, world music before there was a name for it. There's intensity even in the ballads, or should they be called slow laments. I could go on, but you can't learn more about this CD without listening.
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