I don’t know Aree Ogir’s journey to make the “Never Gonna Die” album, but I am willing to bet that he was sat in Atlanta, Georgia with his own rock n roll dreams that were not too dissimilar to these, thousands of miles away and decades before.
I’ve never kept a diary, I’ve never really needed to, I remember all the key events in my life in two ways. First, the football match that I saw that day, but also, the records I listened to at the time, or the gigs I went to.
So, there’s the trigger points. J Giels Band “Centerfold” – the first single I can remember properly buying – “Livin’ On A Prayer” as a nine year old, the second music became mine, “Appetite For Destruction” when it seemed exciting, dangerous even, and others since.
But right in between Jovi and GnR came the time when I heard “Dancing In The Dark”. I watched the video on Top Of The Pops and even if I never understood the significance, or the feeling of “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face” (I do now…..) I knew I loved Bruce Springsteen.
Occasionally, I need something to remind me how much. Late last year I was sat watching “Live On Broadway” thinking to myself, “how did you not go to this?” Long story short, I had the chance of a ticket and turned it down. I resolved never to miss out on anything again.
There’s a moment on “Fifty Dollar Bottle Of Wine” the opening track on “…Die” when he sings “and I’ll do it again, do it again, until I find what I am looking for” and the saxophone solo kicks in. And right there, he not only represents all the dreamers – and probably his own too – he finds a direct lineage between the Springsteen’s of this world – Ryan Adams’ “Gold” too, if we can still mention him? – and the punk spirit of Gaslight Anthem. And he’s never missing out again.
It is impossible, actually to not think of “59 Sound” when listening to Aree And The Pure Heart, it has the same wide-eyed wonder. “Crash Into The Sun” is for all those who don’t want to go to bed in case something fun happens while they are asleep. The slower building “Tiger Champagne” is an anthem. An anthem with a universal quality, for those who are “spinning like a 45,” but “louder than bombs” and “winning the war”.
“Under A Streetlight” cheerily makes good on the Against Me! Comparisons that come their way, while “Gasoline Heart” begins with a sax bit, and the big man is doubtless looking on with pride, somewhere.
“Black Cats” chugs and pulses – “I got the devil tattooed on the back of my eyelids so even when I am sleeping I know the moves that he makes” sings Aree here – and adds a bit of a soul flavour.
And its these nuances, mostly that convince of the talent here. “The Feeling I Get” is a beautiful piano-led ballad and one that’s designed to send you into a reverie. There won’t be a person listening to it who isn’t a) grateful or b) heartbroken by its lyrics. Which side you fall on is your personal business. “Work For Your Love” with its organ sound, frankly is straight of E-St and the line “I want a kiss, you want me to hang you the moon” is probably inextricably linked with whether you plumped for the first or second answer above.
It ends with the title track. Now, it belongs to a world where the highway is jammed with broken heroes, but there’s a real feeling of stoicism here too. The chanted chorus at the end, fists in the air no doubt, is the sound of a band that is both thrilled with what it has accomplished already, but also has so much more left.
Proof, if it were still needed, that rock n roll is a universal language, and the connection it can make is like no other.