Friday, August 16, 2019

Out now: 'Blinded By The Light' film and soundtrack

Blinded By The Light was released in theaters today and the soundtrack is available now via Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings on digital and CD formats. There's also a double LP version coming Aug. 30 and an exclusive orange vinyl edition out that day from Barnes & Noble.

As a major Bruce Springsteen fan, I've been looking forward to this film since I first heard about it months ago. The Boss seldom grants permission for his work to be used elsewhere, so the fact that a dozen classic tracks are included in the soundtrack is a rare treat.

Inspired by Sarfraz Manzoor's book Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N' Roll and Springsteen's tunes and directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), the movie plot revolves around Pakistani teen Javed (Viveik Kalra) growing up in England circa 1987. His turbulent life amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times is transformed when introduced to the music of Springsteen by a friend who hands him some cassettes by The Boss.

The track listing encompasses well-known hits and favorites like "Born To Run," "Dancing In The Dark," "Hungry Heart," "Because The Night" (famously covered by Patti Smith), "Badlands," "Cover Me," "Thunder Road" (recorded at The Roxy Theater, West Hollywood, Calif., October 18, 1975 - from "Live 1975-85"), "Prove It All Night" and "Blinded By The Light."

For diehard Springsteen fans, there's also a few previously unreleased songs worth noting: a live performance of "The River" (from No Nukes '79 - Madison Square Garden, NYC - September 21, 1979) and an acoustic solo performance of "The Promised Land" (Concert for Valor - The National Mall, Washington DC, November 11, 2014). The latter has a slower arrangement than the recorded version from "Darkness on the Edge of Town," but is still powerful, while utilizing only acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Still, the one selection many people will probably want to hear first is the official studio recording of "I'll Stand By You." It leaked online in 2017 and was originally written for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but never used. "Blinded by the Light" features the song over the closing credits.

A stately piano-led ballad with subtle orchestration, "I'll Stand By You" was created by much of the same team behind Springsteen's latest studio album "Western Stars." Patti Scialfa sings alongside her husband and another E Street Band mate, Soozie Tyrell. Mrs. Springsteen also handled the heavenly vocal harmony arrangement. With lyrics like "We'll fight together until victory is won" and "together we'll find courage/we'll find faith," the song serves as a pledge of solidarity.

Elsewhere, the soundtrack has two memorable pop hits from the era: "It's a Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys and "The Sun Always Shines On T.V." by A-ha, film dialogue snippets and some Middle Eastern music.

All told, the soundtrack is a fine Springsteen primer for the uninitiated and younger listeners to serve as a gateway for further exploration.

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