Bruce Springsteen he has always professed a devotion to rock and roll and soul.
Throughout his 5-decade musical career, the reinterpretation of songs by his favorite artists has been a fundamental part of his live repertoire, although it was an element that was absent for many years in his studio work.
On their twenty-first album Only The Strong Survive (Columbia CBS, 2022) Bruce Springsteen once again ventures into the cover album format to pay homage to soul. On this occasion, Springsteen is only the voice that reinterprets a selection of songs by artists such as Frank Wilson, Dobie Gray, William Bell, The Commodores, The Temptations, Jimmy RuffinJohnny & Jackie, The Four Tops, Frankie Valli, Ben E KingTyrone Davis y Jerry Butler.
In Only the Strong Survive Bruce Springsteen avoids commonplaces and repetition of the same songs that are always honored in the genre. This is not a CD Phil Collins o Rod Stewart reinterpreting Motown’s classic American songbook. There is a true devotion to the interpretation of the music in the Springsteen selection.
Here Bruce Springsteen becomes a crooner. He is the leader of a soul band without the support of his usual backing band, the E Street Bandthrough which he channels hidden jewels of Motown y Stax Records, two of the most important soul labels of the sixties. The album offers us a selection of less popular songs, but with a feeling of familiarity, as if they had always been there and just something was missing to rediscover these slightly melancholic melodies with a lot of soul.
One of the most outstanding moments of the album is the interpretation of “Nightshift”, a song by The Commodores written as a melancholic tribute to the music of marvin gaye y Jackie Wilson. “Nightshift” was the first hit he had The Commodores in 1985 after the departure of Lionel Richie.
The selection also contains an unexpected twist with a version of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”, a song originally recorded by Frankie Valli in 1965, but which was a success for The Walker Brothers with the unique baritone voice of Scott Walker. It is an album focused on the power of singing as an act of liberation and Springsteen’s voice is the protagonist.
It is also accompanied by the voice of Sam Mooreof Sam & Davein their versions of “Soul Days”, a song performed by Dobie Gray y “I Forgot to be your lover” de William Bellwhich many will know as “To Be A Lover” in its 1986 version made by Billy Idol.
In Springsteen’s studio work, his review of the work of other artists began to be noticed in 2006, when he edited We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessionsan album where he reinterpreted 13 traditional American songs made popular by the folk music archivist Pete Seeger. The 2014 album High Hopes also contained versions of songs by The Saints y Suicide.
Bruce Springsteen’s concerts have always given room for the reinterpretation of songs by other artists and something that can be found in his many live recordings. Although this is the first time that he dedicates all of his musical energies to soul.
This album allows Bruce Springsteen free yourself and not have to worry about arranging or composition, these versions are made very close to their original versions and do not need a lot of work to transform them into something new. Only The Strong Survive It is the extension of an artist who, at 73 years old, continues to search for new musical avenues with no intention of stopping soon.
Only The Strong Survive is a musical journey through the musical obsessions of Bruce Springsteen that invites us to explore and rediscover these soul songs that were lost in a jukebox in a dark bar in Asbury Park.
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