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Stealing Fire

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Street Date: January 15, 2002

"The whole point of writing songs is to share experiences with people," says Bruce Cockburn, looking back on a career that includes 26 albums, numerous international awards, including the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Tenco Award for Lifetime Achievement in Italy, 20 gold and platinum records in Canada, and countless concert performances ... Read more in Amazon's Bruce Cockburn Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Aug. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: True North Records
  • ASIN: B0000VEK9Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,496 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

True North is proud to announce the continuation of the Bruce Cockburn Deluxe Edition Reissue Campaign. Rare & previously unreleased bonus tracks - original vinyl album artwork - 24 bit/96 khz digital remastering - new liner notes written by respected Canadian journalist and author of "Before The Goldrush" Nick Jennings - additional bonus photos - Special O Card sleeve packaging. With this release in 1984, Bruce Cockburn's words and music took a greater urgency than ever before. The previous year he made his first trip to Central America on behalf of the international development group OXFAM. While in southern Mexico he visited a refugee camp that had recently been attacked by the helicopters of the U.S.-backed Guatemalan army. The horrific experience sparked the anger- filled "If I Had A Rocket Launcher", a song which brought him unprecedented attention - garnering heavy radio airplay and regular video rotation on MTV. The album is full of many of Cockburn's most powerful political songs, yet it boasts some of his most romantic numbers as well. From "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" to "Making Contact", whether issuing calls to action or cries for help. Bruce Cockburn's poetry demands affection. Upon its release the album immediatly staked a claim as one of the most compelling releases by a singer-songwriter in the 1980s. Nearly 20 years later, its impact is undiminished.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Oscillator on 2 Mar. 2004
Format: Audio CD
Informed and inspired by a journey to Central America, with particular reference to events in Nicaragua and Guatemala, this is an illuminating and entertaining album. Writing songs that have political elements in them can be a fraught exercise but by focusing on the human aspects Cockburn has created a document that doesn't get bogged down by political detail and rises above being a mere travelogue. The best-known songs are probably 'If I Had A Rocket Launcher', which perfectly illustrates how even pacifist principles can buckle under injustice and oppression, and 'Lovers In a Dangerous Time', but the rest of the album is up to a good standard. With just the faintest tinges of reggae and world music (for want of a better term) underpinning some of the songs, Cockburn's poeticism and strong resonant singing voice manage to convey the grace under pressure of those he writes about. 'Nicaragua' manages to be a love letter to a country whilst 'Dust and Diesel' is filmic in its lyrical detail. It's not all heavy issues though, 'Sahara Gold' is a moving love song and 'Making Contact' is quite joyous. This is a nicely packaged reissue and the extra tracks are both quite strong. Although there is the odd over reverberated drum sound to remind you of it's eighties provenance this hasn't dated much and the hint of non-western flavouring doesn't sound contrived. This guy really should be better known.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One of my most favourite albums ever!!!
Thank You Bruce.. I think you need more recognition for your work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 42 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Kick at the Darkness Till It Bleeds Daylight 28 Sept. 2004
By Tim Brough - Published on
Format: Audio CD
How many artists do you know that U2 quotes in their songs? That line, from Cockburn's "Lovers In A Dangerous Time," eventually made its way into the U2 canon ("God Pt 2"). But it belongs to Cockburn, and is on this, his most perfectly politically charged album. The song "Nicaragua" sounded close enough to sympathizing with the rebels that it even found Cockburn under fire from the Reagan Administration. But it was the naked fury of "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" that drives the point home. The frustration and helplessness fueling the rage that would make a person declare "if I had a rocket launcher, some sonofab*#ch would die" is universal, and it gave Cockburn one of his best known songs.

The compositions on "Stealing Fire" were inspired by Cockburn's fact finding trek with OXFAM through Mexico and Latin America, and they put the face on the political turmoil of the region at that time. "Peggy's Kitchen Wall" nakedly shows the true scope of what warring governments would rather have you not see, and "Sahara Gold" paints a shimmering portrait of the region. Cockburn's always had a fine eye for detail, and that shows in both "Gold" and in "Dust and Diesel" (the original album closer).

In 1984, only Peter Gabriel and U2 were making statements as grand as Cockburn's "Stealing Fire," and outside of The Clash, there has never been an anti-war statement as anger-filled as "Rocket Launcher." Twenty years later, "Stealing Fire" still burns with the sound of the truth.

(PS - the bonus tracks, after the graceful mix of the original album, sound forced and didactic. Once again, proof that some unreleased songs should stay that way.)
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Even more to the point, 20 years later! 21 Oct. 2003
By o dubhthaigh - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the CD that got Bruce's VISA lifted by the Reagan Administration. His endorsement of Nicaragua's Sandanista Movement of itself is one of the most impassioned calls to arms in all of music. Pity Ortega couldn't deliver on the promise. That failure does not invalidate the premises put forth here. And the premises are ever more to the point of the deadly morass perpetrated by the thrust and parry of Islamic terrorism and the last Imperial power (assuming the People's Repression in China never gets its rice together). Remove the seductive Latin underpinings to the songs here, and the struggle of the third world confronting the champion of the WTO remains the central dialectic of this part of the Twenty-First Century. Bruce diseects that dialectic, puts a human face on what the politics of avarice mean.
The music, though, is extraordinary: those Latin underpinings give this disc a samba and a sway that are truly intoxicating. The people he writes about seem to look up at you in your imagination's eye. His anger at the murderous helicopter gunships boils in your blood. You can, after all this time, taste the hatred for Reagan-Thatcher in your mouth, you'll find yourself wishing the IRA had been just a wee bit luckier in Birmingham, this is engaged Christianity on the verge of losing its compassion. To Cockburn's credit, he pulls back from this ledge.
This CD and DANCING are his two best, by virtue of the power of the music and the messages. The remastering job is absolutely STERLING! The additional tracks are as strong as everything else on this remarkable disc. They really add to the power of the CD. No wonder he is Canada's greatest living songwriter.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Cockburn's Masterpiece 6 Jan. 2000
By Steve Vrana - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Like fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "coe-burn") began his career in a folky vein. However, while Lightfoot has never strayed far from that path, Cockburn had turned to a more rock oriented sound by 1978's Further Adventures Of. And by the release of Stealing Fire in 1984, his lyrics had become much more political.
Perhaps his strongest political statement is made in the angry lyrics of "If I Had a Rocket Launcher": "Here comes the helicopter--second time today/Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away/How many kids they've murdered only God can say/If I had a rocket launcher, I'd make somebody pay."
And his anger was fuelled by his travels to see first-hand the suffering inflicted by the action (or inaction) of the United States in the countries of Central America. Like a rock 'n' roll Martin Luther, Cockburn stands for those who cannot stand for themselves and provides a voice for the injustices he sees. Some critics may see his posturing as nothing more than opportunistic, left-wing political ravings, but it's difficult not to see Cockburn's sincerity. And if fifteen years earlier the Beatles announced to the world that "all you need is love," maybe Cockburn is only being realistic in that all you really need is a rocket launcher.
In "Nicaragua" Cockburn laments the sorrow caused by the civil war that tore apart a country: "For every scar on a wall/There's a hole in someone's heart/Where a loved one's memory lives."
Cockburn's travels also exposed him to a broader range of musical styles, and Latin elements are sprinkled throughout the tracks on this CD, including Dust and Diesel where Cockburn uses imagery like ".45 strapped over cotton print dress" and "guitars and rifles in blue moonlight" to remind us of how war has become a constant in the every-day life of the peasants of third world countries.
Perhaps my favorite line comes from "Lovers in a Dangerous Time,": "But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/Got to kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight"--a lyric U2 borrowed (and credited to Cockburn) for "God Part II" (dedicated to John Lennon) on Rattle and Hum.
In addition to being a gifted songwriter, Cockburn is an excellent guitarist as well. Spanning a 30-year career and still going strong, Cockburn has released many excellent albums. This is one of his best. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
buy this!!!!! 3 July 2004
By slook - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is probably Bruce's best cd. Beautifuly written and not one bad song. Some latin influenced songs such as Nicaragua, Making Contact(makes you feel like doing the Samba Dance)and Dust and Diesel. Great lyrics on this album which also has Bruce's great sense of humour(smiling girl directing traffic
45 strapped over cotton print dress,
marimba brown and graceful limbs,
give me a moment of loneliness.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Compassion, Insightful Poetry and Eclectic Music 21 Aug. 2000
By dev1 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Reagan administration supported rebels in Central America fighting against brutal dictatorships. Bruce Cockburn visited Nicaragua and Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico in 1983 to observe social injustice first-hand. He discovered that the rebels, now armed by the likes of Oliver North, were just as inhumane as the dictators who they were fighting. The Southern hemisphere doesn't take kindly to gringos snooping around in their business, but Cockburn returned safely to Toronto and recorded the mature and provocative Stealing Fire: the compositions are tinged with suffering, but also a positive mysticism.
Cockburn continues his stylistic transformation from a folkie to a full-blown rocker. The band is hot. `Rocket Launcher' is angry and brutal, but most important, it is a reminder that violence often breeds violence. This is the most stark composition of Stealing Fire, and misleading. The emphasis of the album is the interior workings of injustice and the effect on the person. His exploration of the human condition is intensely moving. The sensual `Lovers In A Dangerous Time' includes the line "sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime - but nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight." Cockburn expresses his passion to "tell his tales" in `Maybe The Poet.' `Sahara Gold,' `Making Contact' and `Nicaragua' feature Cockburn's dazzling Spanish guitar work. I've always noticed a slight jazz feel to his songs. I believe this quality is the result of his choice of bass players: Ferus Marsh's playing is stylish and improvisational. The instant grabber here is `If I Had A Rocker Launcher,' but I believe that `Peggy's Kitchen Wall' is Cockburn's most immediate and expressive composition. The line "So who put that bullet hole in Peggy's kitchen wall'' is riveting. Stealing Fire is a laudable combination of compassion, insightful poetry and eclectic music.
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