Reviewed by Tony Cummings
IN THE MAINSTREAM
I have to confess to all you Bruce Cockburn connoisseurs out there that I wasn’t familiar with this 1978 album (it wasn’t released in the UK and though I once spent some serious wedge on expensive Cockburn Canadian imports - Maxine was out of the country at the time! – that was before the release of this gem). So it was with considerable relish and no little expectation that I slotted ‘Further Adventures Of’ into my stereo. In many ways the deft prototype of the classic ‘Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaws’, it has the same jazzy, acoustic roots vibe, the same international political awareness and most pleasing of all for Christian listeners, the same insightful spirituality that graced ‘Dragon’s Jaws’. A comment here. Bruce credits liberal theologian Harvey Cox in his back sleeve thankyous. But then, as this most intelligent of songwriters has gone on record to eulogise Christian fantasy novelist Charles Williams – my favourite Inkling above even CS Lewis – this reviewer is prepared to forgive Bruce's possible lapse from biblical orthodoxy. There are three songs here, the bi-lingual “Premons La Mer”, the folk air “Rainfall” and the shimmering “Bright Sky” which reflect Cockburn’s infectious joy with God’s creation – remember this album stems from the era when he was living with his wife Kitty in Burritts Rapids, a small community south of Ottawa. Possibly the most attention grabbing song on the set is the joyfully catchy “Laughter” complete with Bruce and his buddies ha-ha-ing their way through an infectious chorus. It’s an exemplary good vibe song. I love the lines “Let’s hear a laugh for the man of the world/Who thinks he can make things work/Tried to build the New Jerusalem/And ended up with New York.” But there’s much else to delight here. The elegiac “Can I Go With You” drifts along with a rich acoustic texture while the singer/songwriter tells us about seeking communion with the rider of the “shining sky”. It’s not all joy and light though. “A Montreal Song” has images of TV war news, themes he would return to in the years ahead while “Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand” has the muso switching to electric and observing, “In the dead of night the city seems to break down into tribes.” Throughout the album there’s plenty of stunning musicianship. My wife Maxine is already going ga-ga over the bonus track, the instrumental “Mountain Call”, as jaw-dropping an example of guitar mastery you’re likely to hear. As the sleevenote says, “(it) complements perfectly Cockburn’s hypnotic haiku-like poem of the previous track.” All in all, a deft and eclectic album which will no doubt be heard in the Cummings household in the years ahead. 1978 eh? I shouldn’t have left it that long to get acquainted.
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