Bruce Springsteen – Chapter And Verse
The term “legend” is often bandied about when it comes to famous and successful musicians, but it’s a word that describes Bruce Springsteen to a tee. The Boss is universally recognised as one of the greatest artists of all time. He’s written dozens of hit songs, and his ability to write music you can relate to has been the key to his success. There’s also his live shows, that have to be seen to be believed. There’s no performer who puts as much energy into playing live as the Boss, and he remains the greatest artist I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing in the live arena.
Along with being a musician, Springsteen can now add accomplished author to his bio with the release of his memoir, Born To Run. The book traces Springsteen’s rise from a New Jersey punk to rock and roll stardom, and by all reports, is an engrossing and entertaining read that reveals more about the man behind the artist. Along with the book, Springsteen has released an accompanying album, Chapter And Verse. The album contains 18 tracks handpicked by Springsteen, including five unreleased track from his early days playing in a variety of different bands.
All the favourites are included, such as Badlands, The River, Born To Run, Born In The U.S.A., and The Ghost Of Tom Joad, although there’s no room for Dancing In The Dark. Album cuts like Nebraska’s My Father’s House, Lucky Town’s Living Proof and Long Time Coming off Devils & Dust give an insight into some of Springsteen’s lesser celebrated songs that obviously have a greater meaning for him.
Of course any Springsteen fan would already have the majority of these songs on record, with the real gems being the unreleased tracks that open the album. The first two, the 60s rockabilly of Baby I and You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover are from his time with, The Castiles, one of the first bands he played in. The quality isn’t very good and neither song hints at the talent he possessed, but both are an intriguing look into Springsteen’s early beginnings. Springsteen then went on to front Steel Mill, an outfit that also included future E-Street band alumni Steve Van Zandt, and offers up the Deep Purple-ish He’s Guilty (The Judge Song), with the Boss’ trademark vocal clearly audible on what’s a pretty decent tune. The final two unreleased tracks, Ballad Of Jesse James and Henry Boy, were both recored in 1972 and are clear indications Springsteen was a talent on the rise. The acoustic Henry Boy in particular, demonstrates Springsteen’s familiar rough and ready delivery and downtrodden lyrics.
For casual fans who most likely own a Springsteen great hits album, you can probably pass on this, but for die hard fans this is a must. Listening to a collection of songs handpicked by the Boss as his favourites, as well as a number of unreleased tunes is an absolute treat.
Verdict: For the die hards.
Lloyd Banks – All Or Nothing: Live It Up
Three years on since G-Unit member Lloyd Banks dropped his acclaimed mixtape, All Or Nothing: Failures Not An Option, the East Coast MC is back with the follow-up, All Or Nothing: Live It Up. Once again teaming with DJ Drama, this mixtape is another shout out to New York from Banks that once again highlights the Punchline King’s lyrical wordplay.
Banks enlists a number of producers across the 15 tracks, including the likes of Doe Pesci, Mr. Authentic, Tha Jerm, and Ty James. All provide gritty, street beats that are all part of the sound that make up a Banks release. Mr Authentic in particular contributes two top notch beats in the form of the soulful trap number Land Of Opportunity and street anthem Seniorities.
Reap What You Sow, the tape’s first official single, is also one of the best tracks, with Banks rapping about the price you pay for the things you do in life, while tracks like Insomniac, Blood, Sweat & Tears and final track Price Of Life all feature Banks quality lyricism.
There are also a handful of guest verses from some of New York’s finest, with Prodigy and Vado entertaining on Seniorities, fellow G-unit affiliate Tony Yayo mumbling his way through Work Hard, Styles P cementing his status as a New York great on Land Of Opportunity and Joe Budden sounding focused on Transitions.
Verdict: Another Banks beauty.
Juicy J – #MUSTBENICE
The latest mixtape from Juicy J finds the Southern rapper embracing the dark trap sound he’s made his own this year. With the majority of production handled by TM88, the man also responsible for Juicy and Wiz Khalifa’s collaborative project, TGOD Mafia: Rude Awakening, #MUSTBENICE is another 808s heavy mixtape about sex, drugs and living the high life.
#MUSTBENICE is the prelude to Juciy’s forthcoming release, Rubba Band Business: The Album, and if it’s anything like this tape, then Juicy is heading in the right direction. Kicking off with the Gucci Mane and PeeWee Long Way banger, Trap, #MUSTBENICE is 17 tracks of murky hip-hop sure to soundtrack many a seedy nightclub. Juicy raps about all the women he has on Plenty, fake bravado on Whatcha Gone Do, the haters trying to get him down on It’s Ok and his love of mixing syrup with high quality weed on the icy Super Fire.
Along with his solo tracks, the features are all top notch. Jeremih provides a silky hook on Panties, Khalifa and Project Pat weave their magic on Talk That Talk – also one of the tapes best tunes – and young guns Young Dolph and 21 Savage rep the new breed on bonus cut LIT.
Verdict: Trap goodness.