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Bruce Cockburn


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Rock and folk/rock, often folk- and jazz-influenced

Status:

Most recent release, Bone On Bone (2017)

See also:

Bruce Cockburn's site

Wikipedia's entry on Bruce Cockburn

Comparisons:

Scott Merritt, Gordon Lightfoot, early albums somewhat like Nick Drake, Gabriel Yacoub's folkie side, occasionally compared to Bruce Springsteen

Covers/own material:

Own; very occasional covers

General comments:

Bruce Cockburn, a beautiful male voice, a brilliant lyricist and a pretty damn good guitarist as well! (colford@chlotrudis.org)

Comments about live performance:

I've seen him live several times over the years, and he's always energized and engaging. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Any of the compilations would be a great place to start, but Humans or Stealing Fire are considered classics.

Recordings:

  • Bruce Cockburn (1970)
  • High Winds, White Sky (1971)
  • Sunwheel Dance (1972)
  • Night Vision (1973)
  • Salt, Sun and Time (1974)
  • Joy Will Find a Way (1975)
  • In the Falling Dark (1976, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Circles in the Stream (live, 1977)
  • Further Adventures Of (1978, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws (1979, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Humans (1980, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Inner City Front (1981, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Resume (U.S. compilation, 1981)
  • Mummy Dust (Canadian compilation, 1981)
  • The Trouble with Normal (1983, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • Stealing Fire (1984, reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • World of Wonders (1985)
  • Rumours of Glory (German compilation, 1985)
  • Waiting for a Miracle: Singles 1970–1987 (compilation, 1987, U.S. is one disc, Canadian is two)
  • Big Circumstance (1988)
  • Bruce Cockburn Live (live, 1990; reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003)
  • If a Tree Falls (Australian compilation, 1990)
  • Nothing but a Burning Light (1991)
  • Christmas (seasonal, 1993)
  • Dart to the Heart (1994)
  • The Charity of Night (1996)
  • You Pay Your Money and You Take Your Chance (live, 1997)
  • Breakfast in New Orleans dinner in Timbuktu (1999)
  • Bruce Cockburn—Live on World Cafe (live, 2002)
  • Anything Anytime Anywhere: Singles 1979–2002 (compilation, 2002)
  • You've Never Seen Everything (2003)
  • Speechless (2005)
  • Speechless (compilation + new tracks, 2005)
  • Life Short Call Now (2006)
  • Slice O' Life—Solo Live (live, 2009)
  • Small Source Of Comfort (2011)
  • Rumours of Glory (box set, 2014)
  • Bone On Bone (2017)

Bruce Cockburn

Release info:

1970—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for folk fans

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, 12-string guitar, piano, drum

Guest artists:

Dennis Pendrith—bass

Produced by:

Eugene Martynec

Comments:

Very 1970s folkie—kind of innocent and playful at times, sometimes dreamy. A blend of Nick Drake, Gordon Lightfoot, and his later recordings. While I remember this one, I never felt compelled to re-purchase it on CD. (Neile)

High Winds, White Sky

Release info:

1971—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for folk fans, especially Nick Drake fans

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Eugene Cockburn—dulcimer, guitar
Michael Craydon—bells, boobams, logs, marimba, tabla
Gene Martynec—guitar
Eric Nagler—banjo, mandolin
John Wyre—bowls, cymbals, gong

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

A little more rootsy at times, though All Music describes it as fresh, which for most tracks is still true. The title track is glorious and heartbreaking, and a perfect example of the power of his early allusive lyrical songwriting, very Nick Drake, and highly recommended for his fans. Just thinking about this one makes me want to play it. (Neile)

Sunwheel Dance

Release info:

1972—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Cockburn fans

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, dulcimer, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, mandolin

Guest artists:

Michael Ferry—backing vocals
Ian Guenther—vioin
Carole Marshall—cello
Gene Martynec—electronic sounds, electric guitar, piano
Eric Nagler—jew's harp, backing vocals
John Savage—drums
Marty Nagler, Anne Scarlett, Mose Scarlett—backing vocals

Produced by:

Euguene Martynec

Comments:

A mix of styles, from traditional-sounding to bluegrassy, to jazzy instrumentals. Not as strong as High Winds, White Sky or Night Vision—perhaps a transitional album. (Neile)

Night Vision

Release info:

1973—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, banjo

Guest artists:

Patrick Godfrey—keyboards
Dennis Pendrith—bass
John Savage—percussion

Produced by:

Euguene Martynec, Bruce Cockburn

Comments:

A powerful album, a little darker than the previous, with two absolutely unforgettable songs, "The Blues Got The World..." and "Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long," and the rest of the album is strong, too, even the delicate "Déjà Vu." A classic. (Neile)

Salt, Sun and Time

Release info:

1974—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Cockburn fans

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Gene Martynec—guitar, synthesizer
Jack Zaza—clarinet

Produced by:

Gene Martyne, Bruce Anthony

Comments:

This album has an overall slightly more jazzy feel, but it's not an album that really stuck with me over time. (Neile)

Joy Will Find a Way

Release info:

1975—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Cockburn fans

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, dulcimer, acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Guest artists:

Terry Clarke—drums
Jeffrey Crelingston, Alexa de Wiel, Beverley Glenn-Copeland, Zezi Tado—backing vocals
Patrick Godfrey—keyboards
Gene Martynec—guitar
Dennis Pendrith—bass

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

His first overtly Christian album, but not his best. There are some fine moments, though, and it's well worth the listen. (Neile)

In the Falling Dark

Release info:

1976—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, dulcimer

Guest artists:

Tom Anderson—percussion
Bob Boucher—bass
Bob Disalle—drums
Michel Donato—bass
Luke Gibson—backing vocals
Kathryn Moses—flute, piccolo
Freddie Stewart—horn
Fred Stone—flugelhorn
Bill Usher—percussion, vocals

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

This was my first Cockburn album, and remains one of my favourites. It's an overtly Christian album, but not heavily didactic (like other Christian music—at the time I got it, this was a refuge for me because of that, and since then has meant that I still like listening to it). It's mostly a highly evocative and allusive album, with gorgeous moments and some powerful commentary (sometimes hit and miss with Cockburn). Overall, a sentimental favourite and highly recommended. Some powerful performances and songwriting here. (Neile)

Further Adventures Of

Release info:

1978—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Guest artists:

Bob Boucher—bass
Bob Disalle—drums, percussion
Gene Martynec—guitar, electric guitar
Kathryn Moses—flute, wind
Martha Nagler—bodhran
Ronney Abramson, Beverley Glenn-Copeland, Tommy Graham, Marty Nagler, Shingoose, Brently Titcomb—backing vocals

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

A good medium-level Cockburn album. Not a favourite, but has some strong work. (Neile)

Dancing the Dragon's Jaws

Release info:

1979—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—chimes, dulcimer, guitar, synthesizer

Guest artists:

Benbow—drums, backing vocals
Bob Boucher—bass
Bob Disalle—drums
Patrick Godfrey—marimba, piano, backing vocals
Larry Silvera—bass, backing vocals

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

Worth it for "Creation Dream" alone. I have so many great memories of him performing that song in so many different venues. A Desert Island Disc for me. (dlw@sympatico.ca)

I remember this disc as being uneven, but on repeat listening, it's not. While I was thrilled that Cockburn was finally getting some U.S. airplay, I was dismayed that it was the slight "Wondering Where the Lions Are" when he has so many songs of substance. And yes, a call-out for the gorgeous "Creation Dream" and "Badlands Flashback." I suppose that anyone who bought the album for "Wondering Where the Lions Are" got much more than they had bargained for—in an extremely good way. This is a much stronger album than I remembered. Wow. (Neile)


Humans

Release info:

1980—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Benbow—drums
Bruce Cockburn—dulcimer, guitar, vocals
Patricia Cullen—synthesizer
Bob Disalle—drums
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
Tony Hibbert—bass
Pat La Barbera—reeds
Brian Leonard—percussion
Hugh Marsh—vioin
Murray McLauchlan, Rachel Paiement, Leroy Sibbles—backing vocals
Dennis Pendrith—bass
Bernie Pitters—keyboards

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

From start to finish, this is a powerful album, and a great collection of some of Bruce Cockburn's best songwriting. Political without being didactic, painfully human. It also seems one of his most personal albums, written during a complicated time in his life and that shows. "Tokyo" is one of Cockburn's most brilliant songs. Impressive. (Neile)

Inner City Front

Release info:

1981—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, dulcimer

Guest artists:

Memo Acevedo—percussion
Bob Disalle—drums
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
M. Kaddafi—vocals, backing vocals
Ruholla Khomeini—percussion
Hugh Marsh—mandolin, vioin
Murray McLauchlan—vocals, backing vocals
Kathryn Moses—reeds, backing vocals, wind
Dennis Pendrith—bass

Produced by:

Bruce Cockburn, Bernie Finkelstein (Associate Producer)

Comments:

Cockburn's city album, and strong one. His documentary lyric style works particularly well here. (Neile)

The Trouble with Normal

Release info:

1983—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, dulcimer, guitar

Guest artists:

Bob Disalle—drums
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
Shaun Jackson, Colina Phillips, Sharon Williams—backing vocals
Hugh Marsh—mandolin, vioin
Dennis Pendrith—bass, stick
Dick Smith—percussion

Produced by:

Gene Martynec

Comments:

Not an album that aged that well for me, though it's not that different from other Cockburn albums, so I'm not sure why. Songwriting? Sound? All I can say, is I don't have this one anymore and don't particularly miss it. I'm sure others would have a different reaction. (Neile)

Stealing Fire

Release info:

1984—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, dulcimer, guitar

Guest artists:

Judy Cade, Kerry Crawford, Joel Feeney, Paul Henderson, Shawne Jackson, Carole Pope (Rough Trade), Tim Ryan, Leroy Sibbles, Sharon Williams—backing vocals
Vern Dorge—horn
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards, backing vocals
Jerry Johnson, Mike Malone—horn
Fergus Marsh—bass, stick
Michel Pouliot—drums
Chi Sharp—percussion
Rick Tait—horn

Produced by:

Jon Goldsmith, Kerry Crawford

Comments:

The classic album of Cockburn's most political period, with the songs everyone remembers (after "wondering Where The Lions Are"), "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and "If I Had A Rocket Launcher." An example of political songwriting done well—it manages to get its point across without being annoying didactic. Truly impressive. (Neile)

World of Wonders

Release info:

1985—True North Records

Availability:

Canada and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, guitar, charango, dulcimer

Guest artists:

Judy Cade, Kerry Crawford, Shaun Jackson, Colina Phillips, Sharon Williams—backing vocals
Jon Goldsmith—keyboards
Fergus Marsh—bass, stick
Hugh Marsh—vioin
Chi Sharp—percussion
Michael Sloski—drums
Michael White—conch, flugelhorn, trumpet

Produced by:

Kerry Crawford, Jon Goldsmith

Comments:

Somehow, to me, not as consistently great as Stealing Fire or Humans, though I know other people disagree. This is where I stopped listening to Bruce Cockburn's new work to concentrate on his earlier releases. I've never lost interest in those. (Neile)

Dart To The Heart

Release info:

1994—Columbia/True North

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, charango

Guest artists:

Richard Bell—accordion, organ, piano, vocals, Wurlitzer
Stephen Bruton—vocals
T-Bone Burnett—drums, organ, vocals
Mickey Curry—drums, vocals
Denny Fongheiser—drums
Chris Laidlaw—vocals
Greg Leisz—pedal steel
Darrell Leonard—horn arrangements, trumpet
Colin Linden—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, slide guitar, vocals
Christiaan Mostert—tenor sax
Chris Parker—drums, percussion
Sam Phillips—vocals
Jerry Scheff—bass, vocals
Greg "Frosty" Smith—baritone sax
Benmont Tench—organ

Produced by:

T-Bone Burnett

Comments:

Not all that impressive on first listen and I don't have time to listen twice :-) (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

The Charity of Night

Release info:

1996—Rounder Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, dobro, resonator guitar, resophonic banjo

Guest artists:

Jonatha Brooke—harmony vocals, backing vocals
Gary Burton—vibraphone
Gary Craig—drums, percussion, tambourine
Ani DiFranco—backing vocals
Patty Larkin—harmony vocals, backing vocals
Colin Linden—mandolin
Joe Macerollo—accordion
Maria Muldaur—harmony vocals
Janice Powers—keyboards
Bonnie Raitt—slide guitar
Rob Wasserman—bass
Bob Weir—harmony vocals

Produced by:

Bruce Cockburn, Colin Linden

Comments:

What a well-crafted album. (JavaHo@aol.com)

Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu

Release info:

1989—True North

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, resonator guitar, handclapping

Guest artists:

Richard Bellarr—organ
Gary Craig—drums
Carlos del Junco Band—harmonica
Stephen Donald—trombone
John Dymond—bass, guitar
Daniel Janke—kora
George Koller—bass, dilruba
Rick Lazar—percussion
Colin Linden—acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Steve Lucas—bass
Jonell Mosser—harmony vocals
Janice Powers—keyboards
Ben Riley—cymbals, drums
Sally Sweetland—handclapping
Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies)—harmony vocals
Lucinda Williams—harmony vocals

Produced by:

Bruce Cockburn and Colin Linden

Comments:

It's one of his best works in years - wonderful backing vocals and duets with Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) and Lucinda Williams. Also a notable acknowledgement to Ani DiFranco for inspiration in song creation. The new album certainly continues the Colin Linden partnership period. But there is something new and fresh on Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu. Maybe it's the backing vocals, or the mesh of Lucinda Williams's voice with Bruce's. (dlw@sympatico.ca)

I've heard this album and I think it's great! Of course, I have to confess to being somewhat of a Cockburn fanatic. I've got all his albums with the exception of a compilation or two. Dave says this is Cockburn's best album in years; however, I feel that Cockburn's been doing some darn good work lately. I felt such albums as Charity of Night and Nothing But A Burning Light, both fairly recent in the Cockburn catalog, are truly excellent albums. In fact, I haven't decided yet how I like Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu when compared to Nothing But a Burning Light (one of my favs). I guess I'll just have to listen to it more to figure it out ;-) (artshop@artist-shop.com)

I was just looking at it last night as I moved my 'to be listened to again' stack(s) off of the computer, thinking I need to put it back into listening cycling. Great guest artists on harmony & a duet: Lucinda Williams, Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Jonell Mosser. (candre@enteract.com)


Christmas

Release info:

1993—Columbia—CK 53026

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Bruce Cockburn—vocal, guitars, acoustic guitar, dulcimer, percussion, harmonica, wind chimes

Guest artists:

Colin Linden—guitar (2, 9); background vocals (2); slide guitar (5, 8, 10); electric guitar (11)
Richard Bell—piano (2); organ (5, 6, 8-11, 13); accordion (7, 14)
Dick Smith—percussion (2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14)
Gary Craig—drums (2, 5, 8-11); percussion (14)
Sharon Lee Williams, Colina Phillips, Vivienne Williams—background vocals (2, 8, 10)
Hugh Marsh—violin (4, 5, 10, 11, 13); violectra (6)
Eliseo Borrero, Alberto Mirabal, Candi Sosa—background vocals (4, 7)
John Dymond—bass (5, 8-11, 14)
T-Bone Burnett—humming (5)
Jenny Cockburn—background vocals (7)
Sam Phillips—background vocals (9, 13)
Everyone involved—background vocals (14)

Produced by:

Bruce Cockburn

Comments:

Good music from a dedicated humanist who makes any music he does his own. "Iesus Ahatonnia" is a wonderful Huron (American Indian for those who only know the Plains Indians) carol. (lyle_howard@hotmail.com)

I also love Bruce Cockburn's Christmas! (beyondbd@earthnet.net)

I love CockburnŐs folksy yet energetic take on Christmas carols. Highlights are "Riu Riu Chiu," "Les anges dans nos campagnes" (Angels We Have Heard on High in the original French), "Jesus Ahatonnia (The Huron Carol)" and "Mary Had a Baby." I also appreciate his thoughtful liner notes on why he chose to record these particular songs. (JoAnn Whetsell)


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