Thursday, 8 December 2022

My Top 22 of 2022: Prelude

I’m in two minds…

About what?

This new Bruce Springsteen album. The Boss covering a bunch of old soul songs. It’s all a bit…

Rod Stewart?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, his voice sounds amazing. It’s some of the best singing he’s ever done. On 7 Rooms of Gloom, he even gives Levi Stubbs a run for his money…

Bruce Springsteen - Seven Rooms Of Gloom

The Four Tops - Seven Rooms Of Gloom


But it’s not Levi Stubbs, is it? Many of these songs… the originals are so strong, so well-entrenched in my mind, in my heart, no cover’s ever going to come close. Not even Bruce.

Is it just that… he’s getting on a bit now… he’s reached the karaoke stage of his career? Dylan’s done covers albums. Willie Nelson… ahem… Rod Stewart… don’t they deserve to sit back and put their feet up rather than still be re-inventing the wheel?

You might argue that… if Dylan hadn’t just produced one of his best albums in years off the back of his karaoke sets. Bruce too… Western Stars showed he can still cut it. It was his best album of the 21st Century, easily up there with his best, without trying to recapture old glories. (I enjoyed Letter To You a lot too, but much of that was a reworking of old E Street numbers from back in the day that never got recorded, so it didn’t really speak to where he is now, creatively.)

Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars

Your problem then is the songs he’d chosen to cover? They’re too iconic to mess with?

Well, to be fair, he’s not messing with them. The arrangements are very faithful to the originals (if a bit Saturday Night At The London Palladium in places)… but then you start to wonder why you’re not just listening to the originals. I mean, at least Billy Idol made William Bell’s I Forgot To Be Your Lover his own. 

William Bell - I Forgot To Be Your Lover

Billy Idol - To Be A Lover

Bruce Springsteen - I Forgot To Be Your Lover

What about the less well-known tracks?

They work better. The two Jerry Butler songs, the title track and Hey, Western Union Man, are definite highlights. But then I went straight out and added The Very Best of Jerry Butler to my wishlist. 

Bruce Springsteen - Only The Strong Survive

Jerry Butler - Hey, Western Union Man

Bruce Springsteen - Hey, Western Union Man

Who’s this record for then?

Good question. I can tell you who it’s not for: Soul music fans. Even if you love Bruce as much as you love Motown, Atlantic et al. Maybe this is a record for Bruce fans who don’t know a lot about soul music. If it turns them onto that genre, I’m sure they’ll be eternally grateful… and this might well be Bruce's aim. His love for these old records is infectious, his voice sounds great, and he’s clearly having a great time. Despite the preponderance of lost love songs (What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, When She Was My Girl), the performances are almost jubilant. But they’re not Jimmy Ruffin, The Walker Brothers or The Four Tops. And Someday We’ll Be Together as a closer? Ouch. Diana Ross is untouchable on that.

So I'm guessing this won't quite make your Top 22 Albums of 2022 then?

Sadly, no. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I don't think I'll still be listening to it in the new year...


  1. Agree with all that
    I've only listened to it once so far.
    Hey, Western Union Man was the standout track for me.

  2. Do I Love You (Yes I Do) has been played on the radio a lot and I've quite enjoyed Bruce's take on it. He's got to the age he can have a little fun with whatever genre he pleases I suppose, but maybe not for the diehard fans.

  3. Concur - I was quite looking forward to this cos I was interested to see what his take was on the songs, but the one I was most looking forward to was the Walker Brothers, and I think its so difficult to hear a cover of that without hearing Scott ?

    It's karaoke, which somehow, the Seeger Sessions LP avoided for me.


  4. I'm with you on this - I've heard it, it's nice enough, but not actively seeking it out again.
    I might buy it for a quid so there's no gap in the Springsteen section.


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