What would it be like if we were able to get new music from bands like The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones or any number of classic rock artists from early in their careers. Not outtakes. Not studio demos. Whole songs or whole albums of new, never before heard material. Sounds impossible. But with THE PROMISE, Bruce Springsteen gives us just that. These 21 songs were recorded in preparation for his follow up to Born to Run. Because of legal battles over ownership of his own music with his manager, Mike Appel, Springsteen couldn't record that new album. That didn't stop him from writing and recording songs in a New Jersey farmhouse. These 21 songs, plus 10 more, were culled into the epic Darkness on the Edge of Town album. So, Springsteen had 31 (probably more) songs to pick from. The discarded songs (or as Steve Van Zant has called them “lost arguments”) make up THE PROMISE. Many are '60's Motown or Mitch Ryder in feel. Count “Someday (We'll Be Together)”, “The Brokenhearted”, “Ain't Good Enough For You”, “It's A Shame” and “Talk to Me” among those. There are songs with melodies or lyrics you'll recognize that were obviously jumping off points for those that appeared on Darkness. Count “Come On (Let's Go Tonight)”, “Racing In The Streets” and “Candy's Boy” in that category. Then there are the songs you've heard a million times in concert, but never in the studio. That list includes “Fire”, “Because the Night” and “Rendezvous”(but that falls somewhere in between this category and the “early versions” one). Then there is the category of new and instantly classic. “Save My Love” is an unbelievable melody with lyrics about love and distance. It could have easily been on Born To Run. “The Way” is a haunting song about obsessive love (Bruce says it belongs in a David Lynch movie. No debating that). You won't see it in the track list, but trust me, it's there. Then there is the title track. “The Promise” could very well have been included on Darkness, with it's theme of lost and wasted dreams. It is among Springsteen's best. Not just of recent years, it's among his best EVER! I could go on and on about this 2 disc collection, I haven't even mentioned seven songs that are simply awesome. Finding a weak sister in among these songs is impossible. For me, this bridges the gap from Born to Run to Darkness. It just fills me with joy to hear these songs. It takes me back to New Jersey in the '70's, when I was first discovering Bruce. I've been transported back in time and what a wonderful trip it is. — Alan Yudman
There is a tendency for music critics to categorize. This one swaggers and prances like Jagger. That one is outrageous like Madonna. If a songwriter tells stories about young people trying to escape their working class lives, taking to the road in search of a better existence, they are immediately compared to a young Springsteen. Such is the case with Brandon Flowers, lead singer/songwriter of The Killers. On his first solo outing, Flowers talks about his hometown Las Vegas in a way that Bruce talked about New Jersey. There is something to the comparison, but it's the kind of weight Flowers can't carry and shouldn't have to. FLAMINGO is a good CD. Flowers is a talented songwriter who knows how to draw images about escape and the desert like only a Vegas native could. But he sometimes gets bogged down in what seems to be an effort to be the modern day-West Coast Boss. So, in the end that's where the Springsteen comparisons fall short. There is a lot to like about this CD. “Only the Young”, “Jilted Lover & Broken Hearts” and the fantastic “Crossfire” are fantastic stories about being young, embracing it, but knowing that it won't last. Much like love. Flowers is very talented and deserves to be judged on his own merits, so buy the CD and enjoy it for what it is. Because it is worth owning. — Alan Yudman
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People have criticized Rivers Cuomo for writing hook-filled pop songs. The question is “what's wrong with that?”. The answer is NOTHING!! Weezer's latest, “Hurley” is pop art. Every song has an infectious hook and the clever lyrics that Cuomo is famous for. Take “Ruling Me” for example. The second verse begins “We first met in the lunchroom, My ocular nerve went pop zoom.” Who else uses “ocular nerve” in a pop song? The song is an ode to obsession and fantasy. And frankly, I can't get it out of my head. Obsessed with a song about obsession. My therapist will have a field day with that one. Obsession seems to be the theme of many of the songs. “Memories” pines for what used to be, “Trainwrecks” asks what's wrong with being a slacker. There is art and heart here. And if it makes you tap your foot, or burrows into your consciousness, what's wrong without that? Keep going Weezer, we need you!
— Alan Yudman
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