November music review – the Boss and preparing for ‘best of the year’

The Boss finds some stuff at the back of the wardrobe

November was a bit of a thin month, and I'm afraid I can't bring myself to review Take That, so the main feature is not exactly an exciting new artist or even new recordings; it is Bruce Springsteen with The Promise, tracks recorded in 1977 as part of the sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town.

It's a double album of 22 tracks  - a luxury package is also available with 694 tracks,  a hand written manuscript of the lyrics, 48 days of film and a life size hologram of the E Street Band (or something like that...).  Some songs are well known, such as the originals of Because the night (not a patch on the Patti Smith version actually) and Fire (different but the equal of the Pointer Sisters cover).  Others are less so; such as the beautiful rock ballad Breakaway, and the instantly classic life-affirming drive of Save my love; how could he just stick these songs in a cupbaord for 30 years?  It is astonishing.

Many tracks have a decidedly retro feel, back to 60s (Phil Spector influences) or even 50s rock and roll.  Springsteen wanted Darkness to have an edgier feel than his previous work, so you can see why some of the more upbeat tracks here didn't make the final cut.  But don't assume that these are lesser songs; there are at least a dozen beauties here.

I put Springsteen at joint third in my list of significant popular song writers (not performers) of the last 50 years - I'll leave you to guess one and two.  This collection cements that position; anyone who even considers themselves a moderate Springsteen fan should put this on their Christmas list.

Best of the year

And talking of Christmas; we're compiling our top 20 of 2010 as we speak.  (Bruce isn't eligible as I'm counting it as a 're-release'). The top 15 (unordered so far) have been chosen.

Now the last five places are up for grabs, with Lissie, the Mynabirds, Smoke Fairies, Phosphorescent, the Foals, Gaslight Anthem, Titus Andronicus, Chew Lips, Kissaway Trail, Los Campesinos, Lauren Pritchard and Midlake battling it out for the last few places.

Any albums I might have missed this year that should be making a late run for the top 20?  Ideas very welcome!

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