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April 2002 Pick of the Month

Anything Anytime Anywhere
Artist: Bruce Cockburn
Label: Rounder Records
Tracks: 16
Total playing time: 71:40

The Canadian born and raised Bruce Cockburn has been making extraordinary music since 1970 as a solo artist. Now, 32 years after his self-titled debut, Cockburn releases a retrospective of singles. His catalogue consists of twenty-one full length studio albums, three live albums, and one Christmas album from which to draw upon.

Anything Anytime Anywhere focuses on the latter two-thirds of his career beginning with the album Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws from which his first large success came from "Wondering Where the Lions Are," a song he was able to perform on Saturday Night Live. For anyone who is already familiar with Cockburn, his standards of the 80s and 90s are all here, covering issues that range from political corruption ("If I Had a Rocket Launcher," "Call it Democracy") to love songs ("Lovers in a Dangerous Time," "Last Night of the World") to songs of hope ("Wondering Where the Lions Are", "Waiting for a Miracle").

Cockburn, a professing Christian who has been the source of a good deal of controversy dealing with some of his political leanings and support of legalized abortion, has never fully been in the national or international spotlight. Yet, his songs have left a definite impact on the world of music. His songs have been covered by U2, the Barenaked Ladies and the Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with super-producer T-Bone Burnett; singer/songwriters Sam Phillips, Ani DiFranco and Patty Griffin; and groups such as The Call, just to name a few names.

Although his opinions might cause ruffles, his well-crafted music and thoughtful, if sometimes preachy, lyrics have often enough been the source of inspiration and insight for listeners everywhere from his homeland of Canada to Europe to Africa and Central America. He was awarded an honorary degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1997 and in 2001 was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by Gordon Lightfoot and David Suzuki (founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, an organization which focuses on the conservation and protection of the environment).

Sporting a full beard and leather jacket on the album cover, Cockburn has never looked so rugged. The 57 year old musical veteran has had his share of hits and misses. This compilation, which includes two new previously unreleased tracks which bookend the album, is a fine introduction to the music of a great songwriter and performer who has inspired and encouraged listeners for over three decades. And for those already familiar with Bruce Cockburn, the two new songs will have to serve until new material is released and will, no doubt, be a welcome addition to any Cockburn collection.

Darryl A. Armstrong 3/24/2002



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