Here Come the Noisemakers
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2000, Volume 7, #12
Written by John Metzger
Over the course of his career, Bruce Hornsby has dabbled in a variety of styles — sprinkling elements of jazz, blues, pop, folk, classical, hip-hop, and bluegrass throughout his six studio discs and his numerous contributions to tribute albums and movie soundtracks. It's true that everything that Hornsby has done amounts to a solid body of work that showcases his knack for merging indelible melodies with poetic lyrics. Yet, none of his albums has ever really captured the total essence of who Bruce Hornsby is, though admittedly Spirit Trail came close.
To really understand Bruce Hornsby, one must catch him in concert. Here is where he really shines, and his multi-faceted stylistic approach bubbles to the surface. Therefore, it's no surprise that his recent live disc Here Come the Noisemakers may be the truest reflection of Hornsby's musical vision. Freed from the trappings of a studio recording, he and his band are able to explore his songs in a completely spontaneous fashion. For example, George Gershwin's I Loves You Porgy is used as an effectively grand and beautiful introduction to The Way It Is (which in turn is given a jazzier interpretation than fans might be accustomed to hearing), Bud Powell's Tempus Fugit erupts out of Spider Fingers with startling ferocity, and Jacob's Ladder is turned into a whirling bluegrass frenzy before it seamlessly veers off into the traditional folk song Blackberry Blossom.
All of the material on Here Come the Noisemakers is culled from a handful of concerts that took place over the past two years, and each track is a true gem. The only complaint is a pair of edited songs — Lady with a Fan and The Valley Road — which break the flow and continuity of each of the discs. Ironically, the former fades just as it's about to head into what sounds an awful lot like The Valley Road, while the latter appears to emerge from the Grateful Dead's Wharf Rat before it too tapers off prior to reaching its final destination. However, these are minor grievances that are easy to forgive as each time, the song cycle quickly rebuilds the momentum.
In a sense, Here Come the Noisemakers is a greatest hits collection, but rather than reflect on the past, it recasts each of Hornsby's songs in a new light. As such, it stands as his most vibrant album to date — one that simply must be heard by anyone who has ever enjoyed his music.
Here Come the Noisemakers is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box