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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 1/22/03

Bruce Cockburn: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere
Singles 1979-2002

2002 (2002) - Rounder Records

review by Matt Rowe of The Digital Bits

Super Audio CDStereoDirect Stream DigitalCompact Disc Audio compatible

Bruce Cockburn: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere (SACD) Album Rating: A-

Audio Ratings (SACD 2.0/CD 2.0): B/B*

Extras Rating: C (see details below)

Specs and Features

72 mins, single-sided, dual-layered (SACD/CD Hybrid Disc), jewel case packaging, bonus song not found on CD (Rumours of Glory), track access (17 tracks - see track listing below), audio formats: SACD DSD 2.0 & CD PCM 2.0

*SACD/CD comparative grading

Produced by Bruce Cockburn & Colin Linden
Mastering: Greg Calbi/Sterling Sound, NYC
DSD Engineer: Tracy Martinson

Bruce Cockburn (vocals/guitar) & various personnel

"One day you're waiting for the sky to fall...
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all..."

Bruce Cockburn has amassed quite a collection of released albums, having issued one almost every year since 1970. This singles collection starts with 1979 and ends in 2002. It includes two brand new songs, along with fifteen other diamonds of his catalog. And diamonds they are. If you know Bruce Cockburn, and have followed his massive body of work, then you're no stranger to the quality of his songs. Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian singer/songwriter well respected but under appreciated by the record buying public, has an extraordinary talent for melodically penning songs of political, philosophical and spiritual observation.

This collection doesn't provide the well rounded representation that a box set would, but it does a great job in trying. The songs here are selected from 9 of 25 albums in Bruce's body of work. As prolific as his output has been, Cockburn's never lost his stride. He zeroes in on things that capture his attention and then crafts a great song to recognize the issue. And lest his fans think that he might have relaxed those skills, he shows a surprising strength in the two new offerings that come on this special SACD disc.

The first of these is My Beat, in which an observant poet is looking at his new home and its undercurrent. The other is Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, a song that's actually ten years old - written for another time, but presenting a thought that's timeless. Sandwiched in between them is a smorgasbord of wonderful tunes that enlighten and soothe with smart examination and the signature folk/rock wrapper of Cockburn's musical style.

Highlights include Coldest Night of the Year, a folky-jazz concoction that talks of loneliness and incorporates soul-touching soprano saxophone and violin, as well as The Trouble with Normal, Lovers in a Dangerous Time, the politically charged If I Had a Rocket Launcher and the excellent If a Tree Falls, which explores the damage done to our environment. As a side note, I recommend that fans dig up the engaging cover of Lovers in a Dangerous Time by the Barenaked Ladies.

Suffice it to say, the song selection for this collection is top-notch. A better single-disc compilation could not be assembled spanning the time of the set. The songs are very representative of the single potential of Bruce Cockburn during the period indicated.

This disc is presented to you in SACD format, mastered with DSD. It also includes a hybrid CD layer, which is a 24 bit remaster. When comparing the two, the improved SACD quality is apparent from the very first song - so much so that I was floored. I have an analogy that's as close as I can get to explaining the absolute intrinsic beauty of an SACD disc in comparison to its standard CD counterpart. It's quite simply the difference between standing in a room of your house and being able to view the 3D depth of it, versus watching your room as recorded on flat and seemingly lifeless videotape. That is to say, it's the difference between physically being there and viewing a representation.

The SACD sound is softer and increasingly more personal. You hear the intimacy of the drums and the lesser toned instruments that complement the recordings. They take on individualized nuances. The accurate timbre of the notes doesn't jump out at you like they would on a compressed recording. Rather, they bathe your listening experience in heart-rending clarity. I can tell you without reservation, that the SACD version kicks tail impressively.

This disc comes in a jewel case, with a booklet that's nearly identical to the one found on the CD-only release. Note that the SACD version includes a bonus track, Rumours of Glory, that's only available on this disc. And, as I've mentioned, this disc is an SACD/CD hybrid, so it will play on all existing CD players in standard resolution. Just out of curiosity, I ran a comparison of the CD layer on this disc versus the separate, CD-only release. The sound quality match was exact.

If you're a Bruce Cockburn fan, this reasonably priced disc is a purchase well worth your money. Not only do you get a great collection of thought provoking and aurally pleasing songs, you get a great SACD DSD mix that immerses you in the music.

Matt Rowe
Visit Matt Rowe's MusicTAP ------ Music Flows There!

Track Listing:

My Beat
Wondering Where the Lions Are
Rumours of Glory
The Coldest Night of the Year
The Trouble with Normal
Lovers in a Dangerous Time
If I Had a Rocket Launcher
Call it Democracy
Waiting for a Miracle
If a Tree Falls
A Dream Like Mine
Listen for the Laugh
Night Train
Pacing the Cage
Last Night of the World
Anything, Anytime, Anywhere

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