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Night On the Town

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Album Review

Bruce Hornsby's hardest-rocking album, A Night on the Town announces that he is heading into a different direction in its first few notes. John Mellencamp's producer Don Gehman gives the sound, especially John Molo's drums, a feel reminiscent of Mellencamp's best work. The material here is among Hornsby's best, and guest players include Jerry Garcia, tenor saxman Wayne Shorter, banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, vocalist Shawn Colvin (before she was known), and jazz bass legend Charlie Haden. The arrangements still include the mix of synthesized and real percussion, and the trademark piano licks are sprinkled abundantly throughout, but the overall feel is much more rock & roll than anything before or since. The songs are great, with a political edge to "Fire on the Cross" and "Barren Ground." The latter features Garcia's lead guitar, the former a fine Shorter sax solo. "Stander on the Mountain" is a perceptive reflection on a former BMOC, straight out of Hornsby's own attendance at a high school reunion, and "Lost Soul" is one of the most profound ballads he has composed, sung as a duet with Colvin. The single, "Across the River," is a powerful look at the pursuit of one's dreams in the face of local naysayers, and the subsequent return to one's hometown with the resultant "I-told-you-so's." With A Night on the Town, Bruce Hornsby achieves a mix of mostly up-tempo rock music, adult lyrical themes, and crisp production values that has seldom been matched by other popular musicians of his generation. Though it only peaked at number 20 (his first two albums had reached the Top Five), it is an artistic high point.

Customer Reviews

My Favourite By Far

I came to this album pretty late on having grown up on Scenes From the Southside and The Way It Is but in my opinion this tops them both. The feel of the album is slightlier edgier, perhaps not quite so whimsical and definitely leaning towards the Jazz influence that clearly underpins so much of Bruce Hornsby's elegant piano. The addition of Shawn Colvin to the ensemble is a master stroke, her voice fits the mood and feel of the lyrics perfectly. It is difficult to choose highlights because the tracks are all so different. The opener's a belter and the Album is very strong up to and including Barren Ground which is definitely 5 Star materiel; it resonates with earlier works. Lost Soul is reflective but powerful and their isn't a dud track on the album. I have really enjoyed getting to know this piece of music, it has also encouraged me to look at Bruce Hornsby's later work. Buy it, get to know it and you'll love it!


Genre: Rock

Possessed of a breezy, nonchalant style that belies his technical gifts, pianist Bruce Hornsby writes powerful songs from the heart that touch on several distinctly American traditions: pop, jazz, bluegrass, and '60s soul. He worked for a while as a studio player and songwriter, and had his first hit in 1986 with the stirring and philosophical "The Way It Is." Since then he has continued to release albums that honor his own muse rather than the marketplace, and has put together various backing bands...
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Night On the Town, Bruce Hornsby & The Range
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