Hot Ticket! Magazine - Vital Vinyl Briefs

Bruce Cockburn (Gold Castle Records) - Big Circumstance

Canadian social activist and songwriter Bruce Cockburn, has churned out an unusually long, thought-provoking album that is more of a political statement than a musical achievement. This record does not reflect any dedication to music as an art form but instead, demonstrates Cockburn's grasp of the medium of music as a tool for communicating personal feelings about political and social issues. I suppose that his prodigious recording career thus far, with eighteen albums in the can (ten of which have won him Juno awards--the Canadian equivalent of grammys), entitles him to take such liberties with his listeners.

Over an hour in length, Big Circumstance takes the listener on a riveting exploration through worlds both personal and political. The songs on this album reflect on the gamut of issues that plague us in these modern times from destruction of the rain forests in "If a Tree Falls" to the upheaval in Central America on "Down Where the Death Squad Lives." A bluesy nine minute anthem entitled "Radium Rain" was inspired by the incident at Chernobyl and "Tibetan Side of Town" draws on Cockburn's travels in Nepal.

While each of the selections on this album are prosaic works in their own right, few of them offer anything interesting from a musical standpoint. Being somewhat of a musical purist myself, I found his stuff rather flat and hard to digest.

Copyright 1988 Hot Ticket! Magazine