John T. from LACONIA, NH Reviewed on 10/24/2010...
Very good album from Mr. Hornsby, who I'm not too familiar with. Some cool stuff in the jazzy/blues rock vein, some nice duets, good piano playing. The guy has good taste
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This is the one to get
Bob | Arco, Idaho United States | 10/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you don't own any Hornsby cd's, and you're reading the reviews to pick one, this is the one to get.
Here's the deal. I bought "The Way It Is" and "Scenes From The Southside" as soon as they came out and listened to them everyday until I knew them backwards! I was totally hooked. And I went and heard the band play live a bunch of times and totally freaked out. They are great albums for sure.
When "A Night on the Town" came out either I was going in a different way with my tastes, or it just wasn't as good. I listened to it a bit, but not nearly as intensely as the first two discs.
Then I lost track of Bruce.
A half a year or so ago I was on a gig with a bass player who said he keeps "Harbor Lights" in his car disc-changer at all times. So I thought it was time to give him another shot. I'm really glad I did.
While the previous albums were great, and had individual masterpieces on them, this cd is the complete package. It totally flows from track to track with NO WEAK TUNES. I think this really is the best thing he's done as far as having all the facets of a great album covered. The writing is great, the performances are great, the recording is great, the mood of the whole thing is perfect. THIS IS CLASSIC HORNSBY.
I think this is his highest achievement as a recording artist.
I've gotten a few of the more recent ones, and they have some nice stuff on them, but this one is THE Hornsby classic.
There are certain albums I can always count on. If I have a long trip in the car, I know I can totally groove (and be totally musically satisfied) with albums like Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly"; Joni Mitchell "Blue", Elton John's "Tumbleweed Connection", James Taylor's "Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon."
I'm proud to say that "Harbor Lights" makes it into my list of all-timers."
This is what music should be!
Andy Agree | Omaha, NE | 07/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All my life I've sought out music, across all genres, that I find exciting, moving, deep and compelling. I recently stumbled into this already aging album from an artist I had found only mildly interesting back in his late-80s heyday, and I knew I had found such music. "Harbor Lights", and its companion from two years later "Hot House" rank together as Bruce's masterworks, and establish him securely as both an artist and a pianist of significance. What kind of music is it? Well, I guess you'd have to call it rock 'n roll - but at its best, rock has always drawn from musical sources all over the map, be it jazz, gospel, country, or western swing, and it takes a musician as grounded and immensely talented as Bruce to pull it off with such seeming ease, so richly, and so satisfyingly. And his piano chops? Hands down, the best in rock history. Of special note: Pastures of Plenty is my favorite song ever by Bruce, because it includes all his best elements woven together, and is made even more memorable by Jerry Garcia's guitar solo."
Brilliant playing and inspired songwriting; among Hornsby's
ctrx | 'bout to show you how the EAST COAST rocks... | 01/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After three acclaimed albums with his band The Range, Bruce Hornsby went solo in 1993 with "Harbor Lights." Although "Harbor Lights" largely abandons the heartland rock that made him famous, it was perhaps his most impressive work to that point. While operating on a cool pop-oriented sound, Hornsby incorporates large degrees of jazz and surrounds himself with an incredible rotating roster of session musicians including such big names as Branford Marsalis, Jerry Garcia, Bonnie Raitt, Phil Collins, and Pat Matheny. The music is beautifully written and sounds clean and crisp. Even with his all-star cast, Hornsby sounds phenomenal, with impeccable piano playing. Most songs feature extensive soloing, which would become even more prevalent on subsequent albums, and lyrically it's classic Hornsby, with songs evoking his beloved Virginia and optimistic profiles of love, life, and hope.
One of the greatest strengths of "Harbor Lights" is that it can be appreciated on so many levels. It's technically complex enough that even the heaviest jazz purist would love the incredible playing, but more casual listeners will love the appealing, accessible tunes, catchy hooks, and whimsical lyrics. Both will adore the great sound, feel-good vibe, and positive spirit of the entire tracklist. "Harbor Lights" explores many sounds, ideas, and tempos yet is extremely consistent in quality, and many of these songs remain in Hornsby's concert repertoire after nearly two decades.
The title track is one of his most awe-inspiring tracks to date, a perfect opener, with a gorgeous piano intro giving way to a beautiful, energetic ballad. Hornsby uses vivid landscape imagery in his yearning for distant love, showcasing great vocals, a rich sound and majestic arrangement. Like the album itself, the song sounds mature yet flashes universal appeal. "Talk of the Town" features both clever metaphoric verses and wonderful solos from Hornsby, Marsalis, Matheny, and Collins. "Long Tall Cool One" is similarly jazzy and fun, a track seeping with style and attitude. The syncopated rhythms and smart hook of "China Doll" make for more great listening,
"Fields of Gray" is a standout, a heartfelt love song with wonderful arrangement. The lyrics pledge faithfulness even through troubles, somewhat reminiscent of his "The End of the Innocence," and a string arrangement is one of the album's many pleasant surprises. Organs and a tight horn section highlight the upbeat "Rainbow's Cadillac," and "Passing Through" is a funky, catchy winner. The three closers are excellent: the inspiring "The Tide Will Rise," the enlightened "What a Time," and the expansive "Pastures of Plenty."
"Harbor Lights" is a truly phenomenal LP, and timeless at that; beautifully written, impeccably played, and seamlessly executed. For its infectious sentiments and so much more, I recommend this to listeners of all types, ages, and distinctions."
PASTURES OF PLENTY
Nadia | 06/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is excellent. This is Bruce's first album after he dismissed his band, "The Range." Bruce increasingly takes charge of his own music from lyrics to finish. I would like to suggest reading the reviewer "L.A. Scene" for a detailed account. I would have little to add to this great review. I do want to highlight "What a Time" with very funny lyrics and my favorite "Pastures of Plenty" with very deep lyrics AND with an excellent instrumental sound and melody, which for me were both phenomenal Category F5 tornado peformances on the piano--to say the least. You have to listen to them all the way through--until the very end. As I was listening to them, I was saying, "Oh my God! These two are heart-stopping, jaw-dropping performances! They are masterpieces both in composition and execution. My only personal observation is that a slightly more sophisticated or muffled drums sound would have improved "Pastures of Plenty" since the slightly clangy sound infringes upon Bruce's piano playing, however this does not represent a recording observation in any way--I'm just a picky detail observer.
Listen to these songs on either excellent stereo equipment or on a good portable CD player (which is equal to excellent equipment) which will allow you to listen to all the original recording sounds--all the subtle sounds and delicate piano notes as they were recorded. Anything less than perfect equipment will give you less than perfect playback. The lesser the quality of stereo equipment, the more sounds get shuffled. The original recordings are always perfect. It's up to the stereo equipment to pick up all the sounds--with perfect balance and harmony. Bruce is a phenomenal musician, and the piano is the most noble of all instruments. All sounds need to be heard perfectly in order to receive maximum enjoyment from his music.
"Talk Of the Town" is really funny--Bruce likes to bring what's hidden to the light of day. "China Doll" is a delight, "Rainbow's Cadillac" is both beautiful and brilliant. "Fields of Gray" is a beautiful fan favorite, and "Long Tall Cool One" is another great listen.
In a VERY general way, I did like Hot House better as an album although both albums are superb.
This album is now available in a new 2008 edition. Check it out. "