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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Dead Man's Town - A Tribute to Born In The USA

Homage albums where artists cover a whole release can be a bit hit and miss.
In fact to be blunt about it there are more misses than hits, but every once in a while one is released that doesn't just hit the barn door, but takes it clean of its hinges.

Dead Man’s Town is one of those.

Similar to the limited release from Clubhouse Records that covered Nebraska this is an exercise in simply ‘getting it’.
In understanding that what is really required to pull it off well is that the artists performing the material have to know how to deconstruct the songs, break them down to subatomic level, and then build them back up until they can be worn like a well tailored suit.

The best example from recent years is the much lauded take on Hurt that Johnny Cash released, and each and every song on this album is quality wise up there standing shoulder to shoulder with it.
Everyone involved appears to fundamentally understand that the essence of the material has to be maintained, but the delivery can be their own.
And when that is taken into consideration, and accepted, then the listener can appreciate that at no point at all is there a weak spot on this compilation.
All we have are examples of greatness, and then some tracks that are taken further down the road to reside in magnificence.

It is on this release that the much misconstrued album opener that is Born in the USA is finally wrestled from the hands of the Reaganites and put in the proper context of it not being a tub thumping anthem, but rather a condemnation of how those who lead can so readily abandon those they are supposed to look after.
There is no room for it to be misconstrued as anything other than what it is.
And then, seemingly effortlessly, each and every song that follows it is valiantly rescued from the eighties production that the original had and delivered stripped bare in a style that would sit comfortably as a companion release to Nebraska. 
This is an album that can make you swoon with appreciation.

Right now it’s dark outside. 
As I am writing this the rain is hammering against the windows hard, and to accompany the sound of it is Nicole Atkins singing Dancing in the Dark.
The emotional delivery of the song feels like a punch to the heart.
With the vinyl spinning and the rain assaulting the windows there is a perfect symbiotic balance to the moment. 
Again it is the ability to look deeper into the song and embrace its essence that is the appeal.
And therein probably lies the magic
From start to finish it has to be said that no one involved in this release has misappropriated the source material in any way at all.
Instead they have enhanced it.
Everyone has managed to portray a true reflection, albeit from a different angle.

In addition one listen to this in its entirety also highlights that the listener isn't required to be a fan of the original album, or even Springsteen, to engage with it.
All they need is an open mind and a pair of ears. 
The latter is common, the former maybe not so much, but there are treasures here.
Very rich treasures and it would be a great shame if they were overlooked due to a misconceived idea of what is on offer. 

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