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March 2017

UNKLE unveil new album The Road Pt. 1

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Inspired by Meltdown Festival.

UNKLE have finally unveiled their new album The Road Pt. 1 will be released this June.

The band first revealed they were working on a new album last summer after sharing the single ‘Cowboys Or Indians’.

According to founder James Lavelle, Keep Reading

John Lydon calls Trump ‘magnificent’ and a ‘cat amongst pigeons’

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Sex Pistols frontman continues to praise US President

Sex Pistols‘ John Lydon has continued his recent praising of Donald Trump. Keep Reading

Chance The Rapper raises $2.2 million for Chicago Public Schools

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He still hasn’t spoken to the Illinois governor.

Chance The Rapper announced he’s raised $2.2 million for Chicago Public School at a press conference at the city’s Paul Robeson High School today, Pitchfork reports.

In a speech discussing his efforts to support CPS, Chance revealed that since he’d donated $1 million, additional donates more than doubled it. The Chicago Bulls matched his donation, while others included Scooter Braun, manager to Kanye West and Justin Bieber, and comedian Hannibal Buress

Making a Better Album Out of Bruce Springsteen’s Human Touch and Lucky Town

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When Bruce Springsteen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, he half-jokingly thanked his father for their complex and often contentious relationship over the years.

“What would I conceivably have written about without him?” he chuckled. “I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs—and I tried [that] in the early ’90s and it didn’t work.”

He’s of course referring to his 1992 duology of albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town. In a move that predated artists as diverse as Nelly to Bright Eyes, Springsteen released them both on the same day (March 31st), with recording sessions taking place sporadically between September 1989 and January 1992. And true to his assessment seven years later in 1999, they weren’t exactly grand slams.

Although both records were certified Platinum and did especially well overseas, reviews were lukewarm at best (a first for any full-length Springsteen album). More importantly, they aren’t regarded with the save reverence today as, well, pretty much everything else by The Boss. Even the unofficial Nebraska sequel, The Ghost of Tom Joad (the only other Springsteen studio album released in the ’90s), has achieved a latter-day, dark-horse kind of respect, thanks in no small part to Jason Isbell.

Even if he was correct in describing fan and critical reaction to Human Touch and Lucky Town, Springsteen may have been wrong about one thing in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech: the idea that people hated the albums because they were “happy.” Granted, the generally more content and optimistic tone was somewhat new to him at the time, as was his recent lifestyle change. Following a highly publicized divorce with actress Julianne Phillips — and Tunnel of Love, the classic companion album that predated their separation — he broke up The E Street Band, got married to backing singer Patti Scialfa, moved from his native New Jersey to Los Angeles, and became a father.

And good for him. I mean it! Call me a sap or an optimist, but I’ve never believed that an artist has to be miserable or even dealing with conflict to crank out good music. Sure, pain can and often does produce a masterpiece. But true love and happiness have plenty of complexities themselves, and the best artists know how to make those things interesting. On Human Touch and Lucky Town, Springsteen did in fact mine the joys of being a (relatively) newlywed for more complicated subject matter: the change in one’s sex life, the intimidating challenge of commitment, the fear that comes with being a parent.

The problem was that he was interested in plenty of other unrelated subject matter, too. “Big Muddy” is a twangy military yarn inspired by Pete Seeger, “Pony Boy” is a traditional lullaby tinged with Western imagery, and “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” immediately dates itself by critiquing the then-novel glut of viewing options offered by cable television. So the main problem with Human Touch and Lucky Town wasn’t that they were albums about marriage, fatherhood, and starting over — it’s that they weren’t consistently enough with those themes.

When Dean of American Rock Critics Robert Christgau reviewed both works with nothing more than a deadpan smiley face for Lucky Town and the phrase “Windbag in love” for Human Touch, it’s the first word that’s most important. With one interesting theme spread across two albums, then padded out with unrelated songs, Human Touch and Lucky Town are, indeed, long-winded. It would be a different story if the whole point of the albums was diversity, but this more like a good television show that keeps detouring into needless subplots, just barely hanging onto the central narrative. In other words, Human Touch/Lucky Town is the Springsteen equivalent to Season 2 of Friday Night Lights.

screen shot 2017 03 30 at 2 00 00 pm Making a Better Album Out of Bruce Springsteens Human Touch and Lucky Town

But to dismiss the albums entirely would be to miss out on a great lost Bruce Springsteen album. So on this, the 25th anniversary of both releases, we’re redeeming Human Touch and Lucky Town. There may not be enough good material for two classic albums, but there’s certainly enough for one and, as you’ll see, a bonus EP. Before we get into the track listing, though, a few things:

bruce springsteen 92 Making a Better Album Out of Bruce Springsteens Human Touch and Lucky Town— In keeping with rejiggered Springsteen projects such as The Promise: The Darkness On the Edge of Town Story and The Ties That Bind‘s single-disc version of The River, we thought it was fair to pull from all the songs recorded during the Human Touch/Lucky Town sessions, not just the ones that made the final cut. As such, you’ll see a handful of selections from the Tracks box set of outtakes.

— We treated this new album as a proper sequel to 1987’s Tunnel of Love. In our minds, this is a record that examines a successful marriage rather than a failing one, albeit with a whole new set of challenges. In keeping with the Tunnel of Love sonic palette, we tried to only pick songs that were unified in the moodiness of the guitar work and synth tones. Keyboards were a dangerous game in the ’80s and early ’90s, and we believe their use in all the songs here convey introspection rather than cheesiness. A good gut check for a synth line was to see if it would fit in on a recent Ryan Adams or War On Drugs song.

— On the same note, many songs were omitted not because of their lyrics, but their production. For instance, “Real Man” focuses on Keep Reading

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