Tagged Allmusic

Friday 6pm: Feature LP: Springsteen on Broadway (2018)

AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Never in rock & roll history has there been a production like Springsteen on Broadway. Following a busy 2016 which opened with him touring a revival of The River with the E-Street Band and concluded with the publication of his autobiography Born to Run, Springsteen decided to stay in one place for 2017 — New York City, to be specific, where he began a residency at the Walter Kerr Theatre in October 2017, performing a show based on his memoir. Springsteen on Broadway turned out to be a runaway success, staying on Broadway through December 15, 2018 and commemorated with a Netflix special supported by this double-disc document of the show.

All of the strengths of the production are apparent on the album: the clever construction of the show, where his story is closely tied to his songs, the good humor and earned sentimentality, the illusion of intimacy. What’s striking about Springsteen on Broadway as an album, as compared to either its stage or screen version, is that it’s possible to hear the pure theatricality of Springsteen’s performance, both in his oversized spoken introductions and singing. It becomes very clear that Springsteen is playing the part of Springsteen, exaggerating certain aspects of his life and persona for dramatic effect. This has a ripple effect through the songs — many of which are quite familiar, with a couple of latter-day numbers thrown in for good measure — which, in this context, feel written instead of live. Perhaps that punctures the Boss’ myth of authenticity for some listeners, but the net effect is a revelation of just how thoroughly and carefully Springsteen turns his life into art: first into song, then into verse, then finally onto stage.

Tuesday 9pm: Feature LP: Elvis Costello and The Imposters – Look Now (2018)

Elvis Costello had already taken a few steps from the “angry young man” persona that dominated his first two albums by the time he began work on 1982’s Imperial Bedroom, but that was the disc where his evolution from brash upsetter to gifted pop craftsman began in earnest.

In 2017, Costello staged a concert tour in which he re-imagined the songs from that LP, and while that may or may not have put those tunes and their style back into his mind, 2018’s Look Now certainly is an extension of the mature and literate pop songwriting that he first fully embraced in that material. Look Now often feels like a cross between Imperial Bedroom and Painted from Memory, Costello’s 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, and not just because Bacharach co-wrote three tracks with Costello. (Another pop tunesmith in the classic tradition, Carole King, also helped compose one of the tunes, “Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter.”)

Look Now isn’t rock & roll so much as it’s pop that blends the craft of classic Brill Building tunes of the ’60s with the narrative maturity of classic Broadway musicals and the sort of ballads that were once the purview of classic jazz vocalists. If you’re the sort of Costello fan who lives in hope that he’s going to make another This Year’s Model or Blood & Chocolate someday, Look Now will not be your cup of tea. But if you’re in the mood for a set of world-class songs dealing with grown-up themes and performed with nuance and a master’s touch, you could hardly do better.

As a vocalist, Costello’s phrasing and ability to inhabit a character has rarely been more assured, so much so that he sings a few songs from the point of view of a female protagonist and makes them work (including “He’s Given Me Things” and “Unwanted Number,” the latter written for the film Grace of My Heart).

The arrangements are artful and evocative, with subtle applications of strings and backing vocalists and pianist Steve Nieve once again reminding us why he’s been one of Costello’s most valued musical partners since the late ’70s. And while there are just enough sharp angles in “Under Lime” and “Mr. & Mrs. Hush” to remind us this is indeed Elvis Costello, Look Now is the work of a man with enough talent to take his muse in any direction he pleases and give us something memorable.

In 1978, the Arrogant Young Mr. Costello famously said, “I’m not going to be around to witness my artistic decline,” and 40 years on, Look Now proves he’s still living up to that claim. Ctsy Allmusic.com AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

1 Under Lime 5:35
2 Don’t Look Now 2:28
3 Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter 4:16
4 Stripping Paper 3:52
5 Unwanted Number 3:33
6 I Let the Sun Go Down 4:26
7 Mr. and Mrs. Hush 3:46
8 Photographs Can Lie 3:38
9 Dishonor the Stars 3:18
10 Suspect My Tears 4:49
11 Why Won’t Heaven Help Me? 3:22
12 He’s Given Me Things 4:11

Artist Countdown: Mick Jagger Top 20 Hits 9pm ET

 

Sir Michael Philip “Mick” Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor, best known as the lead vocalist and a founder member of The Rolling Stones.

Jagger’s career has spanned over fifty years. His performance style has been said to have “opened up definitions of gendered masculinity and so laid the foundations for self-invention and sexual plasticity which are now an integral part of contemporary youth culture”. Allmusic has described Jagger as “one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll”. His distinctive voice and performance, along with Keith Richards‘ guitar style, have been the trademark of The Rolling Stones throughout the career of the band. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Rolling Stones.

Mick Jagger Top 20 Hits

1 Dancing in the Street (with David Bowie)
2 Just Another Night
3 Let’s Work
4 Lucky in Love
5 Sweet Thing
6 State of Shock (with The Jacksons)
7 Ruthless People
8 T.H.E (The Hardest Ever) (with will.i.am & Jennifer Lopez)
9 Throwaway
10 Don’t Tear Me Up
11 Visions of Paradise
12 Don’t Look Back (with Peter Tosh)
13 Wired All Night
14 Lonely at the Top
15 Charmed Life
16 God Gave Me Everything
17 Memo from Turner
18 Say You Will
19 Old Habits Die Hard (with Dave Stewart)
20 Miracle Worker (with SuperHeavy)