Give US Your Poor a meaningful release
Give US Your Poor, Appleseed RecordingsGive US Your Poor opens with snipets from recorded conversations with actual homeless people. In their own words we hear what life on the streets with little hope and few resources is really like. And then then the music begins, a kind of testament that its power can transcend the worst of tragedies.What started as a soundtrack to a documentary about Americas homeless and poverty epidemic is now a tool to raise money for those causes. Released by Appleseed Recordings, this collection of 15 songs and four spoken-word recitations in not just another empty gesture from the recording industry to fulfill a goodwill quota. Instead, it takes the issue of homelessness seriously and as something that must be dealt with immediately. Most of the songs were either written or performed by artists who are homeless now or were in the past.Bon Jovi lends his voice to the gospel tune Show Me the Way, which was written by Mighty Sam McClain while homeless. In Baby Dont Let Me Go Homeless, a song penned by Eagle Park Slim with haunting slide guitar by Keb Mo is depressing, yet humorous. Its about Slims adventures trying to find a woman to go home with at night so he wouldnt have to sleep on the streets.Other famous voices on the album belong to Natalie Merchant, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt and Jewel.Each song is performed in a different style ranging from blues to jazz to folk, and each tells a story of the despair and triumph that comes from being homeless in America while having the courage to overcome through music. It never gets preachy, only opimistic in its approach at tackling such a huge social issue.For more information, check out http://www.giveusyourpoor.org. Charlie Owen, Arts & Entertainment Writer
Magic, ColumbiaThe Springsteen of the 70s was the near-perfect representative of youthful, working-class American pangs, looking for the right woman, buddies or cars to pull him out of the pits of crummy jobs and suffocating parents. The Springsteen of Magic cant be so easily labeled; the moods here are many. The crackling Radio Nowhere has echoes of that early Bruce, looking into a dark night for hope and connection. The song even takes place in a car. Ill Work For Your Love is a statement of fidelity that is taken to a biblical level. Livin in the Future details the crapstorm that is 21st century America; Springsteen likens the U.S.A. to an old lover he doesnt know anymore. But the twist of the song, another upbeat work driven by the pounding E Street Band rhythm section, is its sense of reassurance: Dont worry Darlin, comforts the Boss, none of this has happened yet.Springsteen is at his best here, however, when hes not so sanguine. The real keeper here is Girls in Their Summer Clothes. Like many of the tunes, the sound seems like an update of the more rocking side of 1980s The River: direct and structurally simple. The singer walks into a town kissed by fortune: kids playing, familiar places and faces, pretty girls. The only thing wrong here is the singer himself; the girls just pass him by.The title song is spare and desperate, reminiscent of Im on Fire, from 1984s Born in the U.S.A. Instead of burning with lust, though, Magic torches the sleight-of-hand practiced by the Bush administration. Where Magic speaks metaphorically, the next track, Last to Die, is literal: We dont measure the blood weve drawn anymore / We just stack the bodies outside the door.Magic takes one more worthy turn with the unlisted track Terrys Song, a gentle, worshipful memorial for an old friend.Springsteen probably never will reach the epic scale of songs like Thunder Road and Jungleland again. But on Magic, he hits all the bases; it just takes him a dozen songs to do it now. Stewart Oksenhorn, Aspen Times Staff Writer
Revival, FantasyAfter spending the last few decades duking it out with his old band and old record label and making the occasional, occasionally great record John Fogerty is back to his old self. On Revival, hes battling the enemies he did on the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival albums: warring politicians, a divided America. Fogerty doesnt really pull out any new weapons, but he would argue that the familiar ones a chugging, swampy beat, and his stinging, country-touched guitar work as well now as they did 40 years ago. Creedence Song makes just that case, a blast of romantic nostalgia that concludes, You cant go wrong if you play a little bit of that Creedence song.Of the bands that came out of 60s San Francisco, Fogerty, from the working-class East Bay, was the least likely to wear a smiley-face button. But the 62-year-old Fogerty seems to have an enlightened take on that scene from which he came. Summer of Love celebrates hippie values Reach out your arm / Touch the moon, touch the star and even features Fogerty mimicking the licks of Hendrix and Cream-era Clapton. And Fogerty outdoes the most-blissed-out 60s survivor in Revivals infectious opening track, Dont You Wish It Was True, a case study in overcoming reality with positive vibes. Stewart Oksenhorn, Aspen Times Staff Writer
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