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Speechless

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 27, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

So pronounced is Bruce Cockburn's reputation as a celebrated singer-songwriter that it's easy to overlook the fact that Cockburn is also an exceptional guitarist. Speechless should change all that. A collection of previously recorded and brand new instrumental tracks, the album puts the spotlight squarely on Cockburn's brilliant acoustic guitar playing. Despite its absence of words, Speechless is highly expressive. Ranging from some of his earliest numbers to three recent compositions, the album showcases the breadth of Cockburn's eclectic guitar style. There's a strong cinematic quality to much of the album, whether it's in pieces from the 1970s like the haunting "Islands in a Black Sky" and the cascading "Water into Wine," or else in 1990s instrumentals such as the emotional "When It's Gone It's Gone" and the ambient "Mistress of Storms."

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Foxglove
  2. Train In The Rain
  3. Water Into Wine
  4. Elegy
  5. Mistress Of Storms
  6. Rouler Sa Bosse
  7. Salt Sun And Time
  8. Islands In A Black Sky
  9. Rise And Fall
  10. Sunrise On The Mississippi
  11. King Kong Goes To Tallahassee
  12. When It's Gone, It's Gone
  13. Deep Lake
  14. The End Of All Rivers
  15. Sunwheel Dance


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • ASIN: B000ASDG80
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,809 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Well into his fourth decade of recording (his self-titled debut was released in 1970), Bruce Cockburn has not been able to break out of his cult status in the United States despite his enormous popularity in his native Canada (where he has earned numerous Juno Awards). In fact, most Americans--if they have heard of him at all--only know Cockburn (pronounced "co-burn") from his lone 1980 minor hit "Wondering Where the Lions Are" or perhaps from the heavy rotation on MTV of "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" from 1984's STEALING FIRE. And that's a damn shame. Not only is Cockburn a distinguished singer-songwriter, he is an accomplished guitarist as this collection attests to.

There are only three new recordings, in addition to "Rise and Fall" from 1999 and previously only available in Japan. The remaining eleven tracks are taken from earlier albums. The oldest track is "Sunwheel Dance" (from the album of the same name) and like much of his early Seventies work has a very folky feel to it.

Some of the tracks mine a definite jazz groove like "Rouler Sa Bosse" from 1974's SALT SUN AND TIME and "Mistress of Storms" from 1996's THE CHARITY OF NIGHT. [The former includes Jack Zaza on clarinet and the latter features Gary Burton on vibes.]

Of the three new tunes, Cockburn performs solo guitar on the atmospheric "Elegy" with hints of Spanish influences, and "King Kong Goes to Tallahasse" is a lazy blues number that invokes John Fahey at his most melodic. On the final new recording, "The End of All Rivers," Cockburn incorporates world music elements by also playing Tibetan bowl and Navajo flute.

If you're looking for a solid introduction to the guitar prowess of this amazing musician, this collection does a thorough job of sampling Cockburn's entire career. SPEECHLESS may not have lyrics, but it speaks volumes. [Running Time - 68:50] VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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Format: Audio CD
Not many singer-songwriters can present something new with a compilation CD spanning 35 years of their artistic career. It has worked brilliantly for critically acclaimed Canadian icon, Bruce Cockburn. In particular, the collection features compositions from the early seventies that may no longer be familiar. Others are taken from various recordings made in the nineties. Three pieces are new creations recorded especially for this CD. Expertly produced by Bruce and long term friend and collaborator Colin Linden, they all sound new and fresh. Bruce is a acoustic guitar virtuoso as well as a composer expressing himself in many styles and rhythms: from blues to jazz to country and folk. The result is one hour and eight minutes of total listening pleasure.

Taking instrumental pieces from different recordings into a special collection gives them more prominence than when presented in between his usually powerful songs with lyrics. Combined together they underscore Cockburn's creative strength. They succeed in drawing the listener into a rich, diverse, melodious and expressive world where words are not needed and the mind can wander. The slow and haunting "Deep Lake" from the CD "Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu" or the new recording "The End of All Rivers" come to mind. Beautiful! Personally, I am not able to specify any favourites among the pieces. While some Cockburn fans might miss the lyrics and Bruce's distinctive voice, I am certain this CD will open his music to a wider general audience. [Friederike Knabe]
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Format: Audio CD
With all due respect to Eric Clapton, I believe that Bruce Cockburn is the guitar virtuoso of the age. Anyone that's attended one of BC's concerts comes away amazed at how he reinterprets studio album cuts so that they sound fresh and new. And that's why I, a dyed in the wool BC fan, am somewhat disappointed in SPEECHLESS.

Of the 15 tracks on this instrumental album, 11 are the original album performances; 3 are new, and 1 was only available previously in Japan. How I wish Bruce could have given us new renderings of the "classics" featured on SPPECHLESS. I'm not about to cast my copy of the album out the window, but think it could have been even better. Just the same, SPEECHLESS is worthy of a place on the BC fan's shelf.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Anyone who has paid the least bit of attention to Cockburn knows that he is a formidable guitarist. A graduate of Berklee along with Pat Metheny, and clearly influenced by the immortal Mississippi John Hurt, Cockburn has sprinkled his CDs with instrumental tracks of wonder through out his career. Some of the very best of those are collected here along with three newer efforts that will leave you stunned and smiling. You'd handily sell your soul to any divination to play half this well.

There really is no other message to this. This is just fantatstic guiatr playing, soulful, joyful, intricate, simple. Like Teilhard de Chardin, Cockburn seeks to hold both ends of the string. He does so with a sense of wonder. Prepare your sensibilities to become spellbound!
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Format: Audio CD
Well, it's about time, Bruce.

When I was first turned onto The Other Boss's music back in 1978, what I noticed behind the cool singing voice and the spectacular, highly-evolved lyrics was a virtuoso plucking and strumming away with wild abandon. No doubt Bruce will always be revered and remembered as a tour-de-force singer/songwriter, but God willing--with the aid of the release of this long-overdue collection of shimmering instrumentals--he will also be remembered as one of the finest guitarists of all time, bar none. Bruce is one of the main reasons I picked up an acoustic and began playing again in the 70's, after having abandoned my guitar lessons when I was an irresponsible kid. He is at the top of a list of guitar illuminaries who have held me....well, speechless, ever since the late 60's: Greg Lake, Stephen Stills, James Taylor, Steve Howe, all 3 members of America, the early Eagles, Furay-Cotton-Young of Poco, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Steve Hackett, Eric Clapton, and the triumvirate of Leo Kottke, Peter Lang & John Fahey. Bruce's music is a universe unto itself, but as other reviewers have already stated, you can hear influences of all genres of guitar music in his playing. And 36 years of being in the recording business hasn't snuffed out his fire yet, either--the 3 new songs included on here are astounding. When I saw Bruce perform almost 2 years ago in Lawrence, KS at Liberty Hall, a lot of us walked out of the auditorium after the concert wondering what that cool instrumental piece was that had the echo-plexed guitar solos in it...and how great it is now to know that "The End of All Rivers" is included in this magnificent collection. I can't relate to the whinings in here about there being "not enough new stuff." Please...let the guy do what he wants.
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