Breakfast in New Orleans ... Dinner in Timbuctu Bruce Cockburn

Article excerpt

Bruce Cockburn

Breakfast In New Orleans ... Dinner In Timbuctu

True North / Universal

IN BASEBALL, they talk about five-tool players -- players who can run with speed, field their position flawlessly, throw the ball with strength and accuracy, hit for a high batting average and hit with power. They are rare.

Within music, one could coin the term four-tool player. Such a person would be as rare as their baseball counterpart. They would play a lead instrument with uncommon skill and virtuosity, write engaging and musically involved melodies, pen lyrics with a poet's grace, and sing those lyrics with distinctive charm.

Such a person is Bruce Cockburn. The Canadian legend's achievements have been chronicled for years, and much ink has been spilled on his behalf in this very column through the years.

However, Cockburn's 30-year career has yielded much less commercial success than has been his due. Indeed, he has often called hits "occasional accidents." He has had only one bona- fide hit in the United States -- Wondering Where The Lions Are, nearly 20 years ago -- and as much as one hates to admit it, the U.S. market drives the rock music industry.

Cockburn's time, however, may be coming at age 54. His 25th album, Breakfast In New Orleans ... Dinner In Timbuctu, is selling well, buoyed by the quick rise up the charts of the first single, Last Night Of The World. It achieved No. 1 most added status stateside in the adult album alternative category. That is industry parlance for a major hit. Canadian success is occurring in all formats.

Again co-produced by Canada's Colin Linden, Cockburn's latest is a less sombre work than some of his discography, and the feel is sometimes languid rather than intense.

That can be a good thing, as the casual listener may find this a less exhausting and demanding listen than is the case with some of his past work. …