Picks and Pans Review: Springsteen
by Patrick Humphries and Chris Hunt
Here are a couple of outsized picture books with lots of color photographs and much in common. They are fan books—for people for whom recordings and occasional appearances in concert or on television by these two supercharismatic guys are not enough. And because singers often are photographed with their mouths open, there are enough glittering white teeth per book to outshine a whole year of toothpaste commercials. Operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti is shown to have been an extraordinarily handsome young man. He worked as a teacher, then an insurance salesman. In 1960 he decided to try to make it as a singer. Joan Sutherland is credited with giving him the exposure that made him a star by taking him on a tour with her. This book (Doubleday, $40), which marks the 25th anniversary of Pavarotti's debut at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia, Italy, shows him at home, in his many operatic roles and with other celebrities. Mayer, the author of 20 books (many about music), quotes an impresario: "A truly good tenor is the best box office." Pavarotti's vitality is evident even in still pictures. Bruce Springsteen, the scruffy-looking young man from New Jersey who has screamed himself hoarse, often seems self-conscious in photographs. The action shots on stage in Springsteen (Henry Holt, $12.95), however, convey the enormous energy of one who is possessed by music. He jumps, he writhes, sweat squirts off his body. Humphries, like his co-author a British rock journalist, makes the assessment: "Springsteen is a particularly American artist. In music his best work can be said to have the same qualities as Thomas Wolfe in writing, of John Ford and Martin Scorsese in the cinema, of Edward Hopper in painting and of Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson in folk music." Hunt adds an exhaustive appendix that lists in agonizing detail all the concerts Springsteen has given and the records he has done. These two books, with lots of pictures, fit their subjects just fine—but not a discouraging word is heard. They are for devout fans only.
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