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New Springsteen album reviewed by a Springsteen superfan

High Hopes40 years into his career, it’s unlikely that there are a whole lot of rock fans out there who don’t have an opinion on Bruce Springsteen. So rather than pretending his new album will be judged as a stand alone piece of work, we decided to come at it from a different angle; what does a new Springsteen album sound like to a Springsteen nut? Resident office Boss boffin Tom Joad stepped up.

High Hopes is unexpected, with The Boss spending the last 18 months on the road touring the Wrecking Ball record and few hints of recording studio time accrued.

But the internet is a wondrously widespread beast and not only allows Backstreets, Greasy Lake and other Springsteen websites to obsessively follow developments, but allows Mr Springsteen to exchange ideas with his producers (Brendan O’Brien and Ron Aniello) and send ideas, bridges and mixes back and forth electronically.

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Glasgow Hampden

BrooooceSome things defy critical convention. They don’t make much sense if you filter them through the normal processes used for everyone else. Bruce Springsteen shows, for example, certainly require to be looked at in an entirely different context.

Attending one of his concerts means entering a different world, one he’s created himself and which has its own rules and conventions. These principles are followed with almost disciple-like fervour by those who understand them. Springsteen is a bit like the Queen; contained in a hermetically-sealed bubble of surreality. As Her Maj imagines the world smells of fresh paint, Bruce has so long existed in a world of adoring audiences who know the unwritten laws of the Jungle(land) and subscribe to them that it must be impossible to imagine what it was like before. It would be easy to go on stage every night, phone it in and bask in the adulation. But despite his exalted status, he simply doesn’t. At every show, Springsteen conveys the impression that he’s never done anything more important than what he is doing right now.

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REM Week – From the Vault

hindulovegodsThe latest in our series of unbelievably wonderful live events takes place Saturday 20th April at the 13th Note in Glasgow. The event is headlined by It Crawled From The South, a celebration of IRS-years era REM. We’re marking the occasion with a special REM week here on Extreme Listening Mode. Today, we look at a productive  partnership from back in that period.

For a band with such a delicious sense of mystery about them, REM weren’t slow to help out their fellow musos during the 80s. For a while, it seemed it was compulsory for at least one record in the Melody Maker to have featured a member of the band. By the decades close, their quality control was being called into question, with NME nailing it brilliantly by describing the raggle-taggle of acts they guested with as ‘the sad friends of REM.’

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Whippet Out – Alejandro Escovedo

21st Century Jesus Howlin’ Whippet sets out in store of redemption – and finds it in the form of a genuine cult hero.

Alejandro Escovedo should be hugely famous, simple as that.

As a member of The Nuns, he opened for the Sex Pistols at their last ever show at The Winterland in San Francisco. He lived in The Chelsea Hotel with Sid and Nancy and witnessed their demise. He’s toured with Springsteen who, along with long-time friend, Joe Strummer, counts himself as a huge fan.

Tonight’s show, with full band, is a departure from Escovedo’s more recent solo acoustic endeavours.

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Thunder Roads – Springsteen in the UK 2012

Stephen Smith is a writer and blogger from that there England. Here he shares his impressions of the latest visit of Jesus of New Jersey.

After the premature death of original E Street keyboard player Danny Federici, Bruce Springsteen stated his intention of touring the world, playing live as often as possible and has been as good as his word. Since then the UK has witnessed the ‘Magic’ tour, ‘Working on a Dream’ tour, and here in June 2012 we’re slap bang in the middle of ‘Wrecking Ball’.

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Genuine Alternative – Franz Nicolay returns with new album and tour

Franz Nicolay is, according to his publicity blurb, “that multi-instrumentalist and man-about-town peddling a modern vaudeville with full-throated songs and stories shamelessly strident, stentorian and more than a little sentimental.” Normally my bullshit antenna would be twitching furiously after that, but if you know anything about Franz Nicolay, then you realise it’s probably true.

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Fan’s eye view – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Wrecking Ball’

Reviews are great if you don’t know the artist, but what if you already do – and, indeed, think of him as one of the family? E-streeter takes a look at the new release from the Boss.

Despite being graced with one of the worst covers I’ve seen – a photograph of The Boss with white paint written over as if by a 10 year old graffiti artist – Wrecking Ball is a record full of spirit, barely contained fury and, as always, hope. Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio outing – 17th! – sees him assemble an eclectic supporting cast of musicians, including the New York Chamber Consort, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and the Victorious Gospel Choir, in a record which leaves the anodyne Working on a Dream material far behind.

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