Ladies Sing The Boss.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

On the ‘5th’ January 1973, Bruce Springsteen released his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Forty years later the album was ranked at No. 379 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. By then, the man known simply as The Boss was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest selling artists in the history of music.

Fast forward to 2022, and it’s estimated that The Boss has sold over 150 million records worldwide. There’s also a small matter of twenty Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes an Academy Award and a Special Tony Award    for the soundtrack album for Springsteen On Broadway. This is testimony to an artist who forty-nine years after releasing his debut album still remains relevant.

Bruce Springsteen was one of the pioneers of heartland rock genre of music which combines mainstream rock with cinematic songs about working class American life. Many of the songs feature socially conscious lyrics which music lovers all over the world can relate to and have embraced. 

So have the many singers and bands who have covered Bruce Springsteen’s songs. This includes the nineteen who feature on Ladies Sing The Boss which will be released by Ace Records. Among the artists and bands to feature are Patti Smith Group, Lucy Dacus, Darlene Love, Cowboy Junkies, Bettye LaVette, Lucinda Williams, Thea Gilmore, Anna Calvi and Emmylou Harris. They play their part in eclectic and lovingly curated compilation.

Opening Ladies Sing The Boss is Because The Night which Bruce Springsteen cowrote with Patti Smith. This anthemic song was released by The Patti Smith Group as a single in 1978 on Arista, and reached thirteen on the US Billboard 100 and five in the UK. This was the track that launched the singer’s career and forty-four years later is regarded as a classic.

Dancing In The Dark was the biggest selling single on The Boss’ classic album Born In The USA. Ironically, the song was only written when Bruce Springsteen’s manager and co-producer Jon Landau suggested the album needed a hit single. When the single was released in 1984 it was certified platinum in Britain and the UK. This comes as no surprise as this cinematic and introspective song paints pictures. That’s the case in the original and Lucy Dacus’ cover from her 2019 EP.  She reinvents the song replacing the synths in the original with blistering guitar licks which prove effective.

In the sixties, Darlene Love worked with producer Phil Spector, and was the voice of The Crystals and Bob B Soxx and The Blue Jeans. The Boss was a fan of the singer and was introduced to her by Lou Adler in the eighties. He wanted to record an album with her. While this never materialised he contributed two tracks to her 2015 album Introducing Darlene Love. One of the tracks is Night Closing In which features an impassioned and emotive vocal from a truly great vocalist. 

As a new millennia dawned, Sub Pop released Badlands: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. One of the artists who was asked to contribute a track was Nashville-born country singer Deana Carter whose captivating cover of State Trooper is akin to a confessional.

Kansas-born Piney Gir contributed a cover of Waiting On A Sunny Day to the 2009 compilation Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool: A Global Pop Tribute To Bruce Springsteen. There’s a wistfulness to the track that features lyrics that are best described as bittersweet. They’re brought to life on this beautiful cover which is an oft-overlooked hidden gem. 

Bettye LaVette delivered  a soul-baring cover of Streets Of Philadelphia on the 2007 compilation Song of America. The cover benefits from a spartan arrangement that allows the vocal to take centerstage. It’s best described as an outpouring of emotion on what’s a hugely moving rendition of this track.

Factory featured on his 1978 album Darkness On The Edge Of Town, and was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s father toiling on the assembly line.  The Boss seeing how the drudgery of the 9 to 5 life took its toll on him vowed that this life wasn’t for him, and that instead, he was destined for greatness. By 2016, when Lucinda Williams covered the song on her album The Ghosts Of Highway, he had achieved greatness and was a musical icon. However,  this powerful cover brings to life the poignant imagery the song conjures up and the back-breaking work on the assembly line.

Cover Me was a rousing anthem that featured on The Boss’ classic album Born In The USA. It was reinvented by Thea Gilmore on her for fourth album Songs From The Gutter wing was released in 2002. With a pared back arrangement and a haunting vocal it’s very different to the original, and a welcome addition to the compilation.

Kerry Hart recorded a heartachingly beautiful cover of Secret Garden on her debut album I Know A Gun. She transforms the song, but is almost scared to betray any hint of vulnerability as she sings of about a man loving a woman. However, she’s out of reach as if scared to be hurt again.

Closing Ladies Sing The Boss is Emmylou Harris’ cover of My Father’s House. It’s another track from Nebraska that featured on her 1986 album Thirteen. The song was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s dysfunctional relationship with his father which he often thought about in later life. This reading of the song song is emotionally charged and brings to life a relationship which sadly had gone wrong and haunted its writer as an adult. 

Choosing just ten tracks from Ladies Sing The Boss wasn’t easy, as this lovingly compiled oozes quality. This latest instalment in Ace Records’ long-running and successful Songwriter Series finds famous faces rubing shoulders with what will be new names to some music fans. However, for fans of Bruce Springsteen they’ll know and love each and every one of the nineteen tracks, and will enjoy and embrace these cover versions. They’re part of what’s bound to be a must-have and eclectic compilation for fans of The Boss when it’s released on May ‘27th’ 2022.

Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen has just announced that next year, aged seventy-three, he will embark upon a tour of the US and Europe. This marks the return to the stage of a musical icon fifty years after he released his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Until then, Ladies Sing The Boss is a tantalising taste and reminder of what’s in store for Bruce Springsteen’s legion of loyal fans next year.

Ladies Sing The Boss.


1 Comment

  1. Seosaph O Dalaigh

    Great album . Love Devils and Dust .

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