About this time of year we've checked off our list of Christmas presents...a pair of heated hand-grips, new gloves, a case of our favorite 10W-40, and of course anything made of chrome or black leather. In many parts of the country bikes sit idle, snugly hooked up to their battery tenders while others stand ready for winter battle, elements be damned. In either case, the holidays usually bring something new under the tree for us bikers, despite the inevitable fruitcake from Aunt Edna. Some of us lucky enough to still be employed may decide to set aside a little cash and buy ourselves a toy, because lets face it, we know what we want. Besides, it's good for the economy. Both the motorcycle and music industries are struggling, albeit for different reasons. There's certainly no lack of good bikes or parts, but buying a new bike is obviously a huge step up from buying something new to load into the iPod or put into the CD player. And although it may not be immediately evident from listening to most radio stations these days, there's still plenty of good musical treats we heartily recommend...
Wheels represent ratings from 1 to 5 (best).
Darkness on the Edge of Town, Deluxe Edition
Fact: Darkness on the Edge of Town is the ultimate road companion for all bikers-it represents "us" at our best. In these challenging times, the dreams, determination, struggles, and vision laid bare in its songs sound even more relevant today than they did when the album was originally released in 1978, after Bruce had undergone a protracted legal battle. Its songs draw inspiration from the road and the struggle to just work a little harder to get ahead. Some lyrics from "Badlands":
I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
The title track, a nod to working-class heroes who find redemption on the road, sums up the hopes and fears in all of us:
Some folks are born into a good life,
Other folks get it anyway, anyhow,
I lost my money and I lost my wife,
Them things don't seem to matter much to me now.
Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop,
I'll be on that hill with everything I got,
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost,
I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost,
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town.
It's an album that easily eclipses any road soundtrack, even Bruce's own Born to Run.
This new massive box-set includes six discs (three CDs and three Blu-Ray discs) celebrating the Darkness album and era. There's a fully remastered version of Darkness, two discs containing 21 previously unreleased tracks from the Darkness sessions-songs that, as Springsteen writes, "Perhaps could have/should have been released after Born to Run and before the collection of songs that Darkness on the Edge of Town became." Springsteen's long-time collaborator Bob Clearmountain remixed all 21 songs. Plus, there are the Blu-Ray discs, a documentary on the making of the album and Bruce and the E Street Band's intimate and complete live performances of Darkness. Plus lots of unseen footage and an 80-page spiral-bound reproduction of Bruce's original notebooks documenting the recording sessions for the album, containing alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details, and personal notes. The only thing missing is a fireplace and a bottle of your favorite libation. In fact, space doesn't permit all the gushing we could do over this set. Suffice to say, it's a great way to spend the holidays.