Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn

Stealing Fire [Reissue]

Rounder/True North

1984’S Stealing Fire is perhaps best known for the much covered, Bono-quoted “Lovers In A Dangerous Time.” Marred only slightly by the dated ’80s production, it’s one of Cockburn’s best and most urgent tunes, and helped to make Stealing Fire his best selling record.

It’s a great way to kick off this record (here reissued), which also includes a sobering trio of songs inspired by Cockburn’s tour of Latin America. “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” received a lot of attention at the time for its tough talk. But “Nicaragua” and “Dust and Diesel,” with their panorama of everyday Nicaraguans going about life under the threat of impending war, are particularly noteworthy.

Cockburn takes time out from the heavy themes for romantic visions like “Sahara Gold” and a jaunty reggae number about love on the beach called “Making Contact.” He sings about the heights that humans aspire to on the gospel chorus-backed “To Raise the Morning Star.” And on “Maybe the Poet,” he reminds us that “you need him to show you new ways to see.” While this keyboard-laden tune would have fit perfectly on a Fixx album from the era, the inherently timeless themes are compromised in today’s context.

The bonus tracks on this reissue include the remarkably timely “Yanqui Go Home.” “Yanqui wake up / Don’t you see what you’re doing / Trying to be the pharaoh of the west / Bringing nothing but ruin… All those petty tyrants in your pocket gonna weigh you down,” Cockburn sings. “Call It the Sundance” features a showy guitar solo, but is a virtually tuneless groove.

Bruce Cockburn: • True North Records:

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