Label: True North
Rel. Date: 12/03/2021
The consummate collection curated by Bruce Cockburn himself, presents 30 songs over a double album that defines the acclaimed singer-songwriters' 50 year career. These songs are both the ones that shot to the top of the charts when they were released, and also are the fan favourites most often requested at Bruce's concerts. With over 125 minutes of music, and notes on each song by the artist.
Compilation produced by: Bernie Finkelstein, Bruce Cockburn and Colin Linden
Song Notes by Bruce Cockburn
Mastered by Greg Calbi and Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound, New Jersey.
All songs written by Bruce Cockburn except "Stolen Land" which is written by Bruce Cockburn and Hugh Marsh.
All songs published by Rotten Kiddies Music LLC (BMI). All Rights Administered by Round Hill Carlin LLC.
Except "Stolen Land" which is published by Rotten Kiddies Music LLC (BMI) All Rights Administered by Round Hill Carlin LLC and Hugh William Marsh
And "Going To The Country", "Musical Friends" and "States I'm In" which are published by Holy Drone Corp. (SOCAN)
Art Direction, design and layout by A Man Called Wrycraft, Toronto
Cover Photograph by Resa Blobaum
Inner Sleeve Photograph by Graham Nash (shot at Mariposa Folk Festival 1970)
Inside Photography by Daniel Keebler, Kevin Kelly, Bart Schoales & George Pastic
Thanks go out to : Bernie Finkelstein, Geoff Kulawick, Eugene Martynec, Jonathan Goldsmith and Kerry Crawford, Colin Linden and all the humans whose presence fed these songs through inspiration, playing on the recordings and live, and just paying attention to them.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Dept of Candaian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters.
Direction: The Finkelstein Management Company Ltd.
Greatest Hits (1970-2020)
True North Records
Released December 3rd 2021
The Rocking Magpie:
A Mastercraftsman’s Work over 50 Marvellous and Interesting Years.
Living in the UK, as I do I wasn’t aware of Canadian Legend, Bruce Cockburn for 45 or more years of this magnificent retrospective; which is probably why I’ve become besotted with this album over the last week.
While Cockburn’s voice is instantly recognisable; each and every one of these tracks are inherently different and document how the singer and songwriter has not just evolved over that half century but experimented and seamlessly switched genres with ease as the years have gone by too. The package starts with Going to the Country from his 1970 debut album; and beautifully charts a trip from Ottawa to Montreal in a sparkling solo acoustic style; and is followed by Musical Friends where Cockburn takes on the role of a full on band on a song that sounds very ‘New York’ to me. Two very different songs from the same album set the scene for what is to follow, with Cockburn; unlike many of his contempories; resting on his laurels constantly repeating himself.
For me; and I suppose many who receive this Double Album as a Christmas present; there are surprises around every corner; not just with the songs but the accompanying photographs which seem to chart Bruce metamorphizing from his Elton John period via John Lennon until he becomes the handsome theologian we now know him as.
Obviously with thirty songs representing half a century of songwriting; everyone will like different periods; but quite a few songs have really caught my attention; especially the dark Bluesy duet with Kathryn Moses, Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long, the dreamy Wondering Where the Lions Are and the horribly imaginative If I Had a Rocket Launcher which should have been ‘of its time’; but is sadly still relevant about so many conflicts around the world in 2021!
As the first album unrolls and the second disc begins; we find Cockburn dabbling in 80’s and 90’s AOR but doing it in such a way People See Right Through You Waiting For a Miracle and, of course A Dream Like Mine, still sound fresh today.
Obviously not everyone Bruce Cockburn shared a stage or studio with 50 years ago are still on the scene never mind pertinent today, as he himself is …… but latter day songs like Listen For a Laugh, Open and the finale States I’m In could only have been written and performed by someone who has had a life well lived and is comfortable in his own skin.
With so many delights to choose from it’s not been easy selecting a single Favourite Song …… do I go for the prescient Coldest Night of the Year? Any of the wryly observed Political opus’s, Call It Democracy, Stolen Land or If a Tree Falls?
Cockburn can really dig deep to write a love song too; so the melancholic shuffle Anything, Anytime, Anywhere has to be in the running as does All The Diamonds in the World from way back when in 1973; but a song from Cockburn’s Electro-AOR period in 1981 has stood the test of time; and somehow sounds like a soundtrack to the 21st Century …… The Trouble With Normal when played very loud is far and away the biggest surprise here for me; and therefore my Favourite Song.
Even though I have Bruce Cockburn’s last three releases; this retrospective has been illuminating from start to finish and really and truly showcases a Mastercraftsman at work over 50 marvellous and interesting years.
~ from The Rocking Magpie
Rambles.net by Jerome Clark
November 30, 2021
Bruce Cockburn Greatest Hits (1970 – 2020)
by Jim Hynes - www.makingascene.org
This may be the first time this writer (Jim Hynes) has ever given ink to a greatest hits album, but my guess is that there are not many of us thinking of Bruce Cockburn, one of the most indelible voices of early non-commercial FM radio in the ‘80s, these days. This career-spanning collection serves to remind us of what an amazing songwriter Cockburn was and still is. What’s more is that the 30 songs in this double disc set are curated by Cockburn chronologically (when he wrote them, not when they appeared on record), revealing the evolution of his style. He also provides some quick hitting anecdotes in the liners.
This is not to infer that Cockburn has been underrecognized. Quite the contrary – he has amassed 13 JUNO wins, two Hall of Fame Inductions, countless honorary Doctorates, Officer of The Order of Canada, and a new inductee into Canada’s Walk of Fame this year. Instead, this to jog memories or perhaps bring some new listeners who weren’t around during Cockburn’s peak so that both can appreciate the directness, the poetic cadences, and both the beauty and fearlessness of his writing. The first to catch my attention was “Wondering Where The Lions Are” from his 1979 album Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, about which he says, “The sun was bright. The sky was blue. Russia and China were not having a nuclear war. The lions in the dream were safely distant and regally beautiful, but they were out there…”
The straight-ahead tale, “The Coldest Night of the Year” along with “Waiting for a Miracle” are arguably his two best songs, gems in every possible way. Toward the end of Disc One we get a series of his scathing political songs, the artist from The North pointing the way for the screwed-up U.S. politics and foreign policies he was witnessing from Toronto. About “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” he says, “Environmental degradation, economic and political instability, the AIDS epidemic—what kind of world were the kids growing up into? And now?” He likens the caustic “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” to the game maker RPG, chronicling two jungle camps on the Guatemalan border. These are followed by two more acidic commentaries: “Call It Democracy” and “People See Through You,” with this essaying the latter, “Reagan’s America, CIA church break-ins, a magazine ad for a t-shirt with a graphic of a US Marine towering over tiny, kneeling peasant figures and the caption: “USMC -stabilizing the third world through conquest.”
If the political fare is not appealing to you, you can still appreciate the beauty of songs such as “Waiting for a Miracle,” “Stolen Land,” or “If a Tree Falls.” Ah, there are plenty of political overtones in those too. So, maybe for you it’s the ‘90s during the T-Bone Burnett producer period, resulting in such nuggets as “A Dream Like Mine” and “Listen for the Laugh.”
Colin Linden, who along with Cockburn Bernie Finkelstein produced the set, took the producer helm in mid-‘90s and collaborated with Cockburn on such songs as “Pacing the Cage,” “Last Night of the World” and has his hand in the last two songs – “Call Me Rose” (2005) and “States I’m In” (2016), markedly different from Cockburn’s ‘80s output but terrific songs nonetheless, proving that the bard from The North hasn’t lost his knack. If for nostalgic reasons or better yet, to appreciate masterful songwriting, this one is well worth your while.
~from www.makingascene.org - Jim Hynes
November 26, 2021
Bruce Cockburn Greatest Hits (1970 – 2020)
An excellent primer to the wonderful world of Cockburn – an essential release.
When a “career spanning retrospective” is announced closer inspection often finds it to be that artist’s time with a particular record company so experiencing the true evolution of their work over the decades is hard. With Bruce Cockburn’s new best-of set it truly spans his work from 1970 right up to ‘Bone On Bone’ in 2017.
Picking thirty songs from 34 studio albums must have been a task, and with the breadth of styles and the speed with which his writing and performing matured in the first half of the 70s there must have been many lists and a lot of crossing out. Mostly chronological, the one misstep in programming was putting the 1987 live version of ‘Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long’ in place of the 1970s studio track. While it’s a great version the more recent production jars against the material actually recorded in 1974. It would have been better placed in with its 80’s peers.
By 1976 and ‘Silver Wheels’ a Flugelhorn part influenced by Hugh Masekela or Fredie Hubbard signals the onset of bigger arrangements, but no change in the quality of the material. Selecting individual songs to highlight is difficult as favourites shift with every listen. ‘Going To The Country,’ ‘Wondering Where The Lions Are’ and ‘Last Night of the World’ are good places to start though. The booklet gives a run down of the performers on each song, and a brief sentence from Cockburn to illuminate the title and subject. The slightly unfortunate cover makes him look for all the world like Victor Meldrew though, and surely there was a better title to be found?
AUK reviewed a set of reissues by Reg Meuross back the beginning of the year and in many ways he and Cockburn are similar in following social and political commentary, and in Cockburn’s case a Christian conviction, through the shifts in musical styles. They are also well known and respected in their own parts of the jungle but have been less recognised than they should have been by the wider musical world. At least the Canadian artist wins JUNO awards, has Hall of Fame inductions, honorary Doctorates, and the recognition of being an Officer of The Order of Canada. Perhaps Britain could learn a thing or two there.
One of the purposes of a set like this is to tease the listener with the riches to be found elsewhere in an artist’s back catalogue. For Cockburn this has worked extremely well as wanting to hear how ‘Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long’ was interpreted in 1974 and what was on the albums passed over for inclusion has sent me off for several purchases. His memoir ‘Rumours of Glory’ is also well worth a read to understand the source of his lyrics. 2021 has been a great year for new music but also for the quality of thought that has gone into compiling retrospectives, and this is one of the best.
~from americana-uk.com - Tim Martin
December 4, 2021
Bruce Cockburn Greatest Hits (1970 – 2020)
by Christine Steele
Out Dec. 3 on True North Records, legendary Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s Greatest Hits is a masterpiece 2-CD collection of 30 songs spanning his 50-year career. The release coincides with the singer’s induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame on December 4, and his “2nd Attempt” North American tour for his 50th anniversary, which was postponed in 2020 due to Covid.
Cockburn selected the songs himself from over his 50 years of record releases. The songs are arranged in chronological order, and the result is a double length album of shimmering talent. The songs in this collection take listeners on a chronological tour of Cockburn’s long and diverse musical career and showcase his range of musical styles—from folk to blues, gospel, jazz and funk, to reggae, pop, and rock.
The collection kicks off with the lovely iconic folk song “Going to the Country,” one of the singer songwriter’s first, and his first hit, off his debut album in 1970. The next song, “One Day I Walk,” has undertones of gospel. Then, he slides into the bluesy “Mama Just Wants to BarrelHouse All Night Long,” followed by reggae-tinged, “Rumors of Glory,” and the moody jazz number “Silver Wheels.” Included are several of Cockburn’s biggest hits, “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” named the 29th greatest Canadian song of all time, and the pop hit, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” written about his reaction to a Guatemalan refugee camp he visited that was shelled by government helicopters. You can’t talk about Cockburn’s songs without mentioning his activism as they are often one and the same.
He is well known for his outspoken commitment to the environment and human rights, illustrated by his songs “They Call it Democracy,” “If a Tree Falls,” and “Stolen Land.” Whether you have been listening to Cockburn for years, or you are a newer listener, you’ll love this collection with its diverse songs spanning the first half century of this legendary musician’s career.
20 January 2022
by Jim Clark
The best of Bruce Cockburn a must pick
It was the late 1970s when I picked up my first Bruce Cockburn album. I’m sure it was at Album Alley and Stanley Young, as he often did, recommended it to me. He knew my taste, intricate music and intelligent lyrics, on the edge not something you’d hear on many radio stations.
There was a single on the album “Wondering Where The Lions Are,” but Bruce was Canadian so airplay was light, at the time, in the states. He’d written it in Ottawa. The album was Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws. In remembering, Bruce said this about the song, “The sun was bright. The sky was blue. Russia and China were not having a nuclear war. The lions in the dream were safely distant and regally beautiful, but they were out there ...”
That taste for the intricate and intelligent has stayed with Bruce, so his albums and songs have stayed with me throughout the years.
And now, a good friend of mine, Mark Pucci, of Mark Pucci Media is handling the public relations for the latest Bruce Cockburn Greatest Hits (1970 - 2020) and sent me a copy.
During those years, Bruce has produced over 30 albums, many I’ve owned on album, cassette or CD. He is a very gifted songwriter and guitar player. His song styles range from folk to jazz-influenced rock and his lyrics cover a broad range of topics including human rights, environmental issues, politics, and Christianity.
A few of my favorites are: “The Trouble With Normal” — Bruce said, “Each time we allow ourselves to get used to some new ugliness, we set the stage for something worse. It wasn’t hard, even back then, to see what was coming.”
“If I Had a Rocket Launcher” — Bruce said, “Think RPG. Two jungle camps by the Guatemalan border, eight thousand frightened, starving Mayans, terrible accounts of massacre and atrocity told against the coming and going of throbbing, predatory helicopter engines ...”
“If a Tree Falls” — Bruce said, “A radio documentary on some college station about the destruction of Borneo rainforest — a resonance with the temperate rainforests of BC — the Amazon in flames ....”
“Pacing the Cage” — Bruce said, “Triggered by a dramatic sunset, a lament at the sense of being stuck ... Not, as one fan suggested a suicide note.” Parrotheads may recognize it. Jimmy Buffett did a cover of it. And finally,
“Last Night of the World.” — Bruce said, “Linda Manzer’s house. Y2K approaching. Sam Phillips’question in response to my wisecrack that my shoulder bag contained “everything I need for the apocalypse.” She said, “What do you need for the apocalypse except champagne and a couple of glasses.”
There are 30 songs in all and by now, you should know if you’re going to become a fan of Bruce Cockburn or not.
Do not miss this one. Seek it out. You’ll be glad you did.
~from Lee County Courier by Jim Clark