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Classic Album Reviews: Bruce Cockburn | High Winds White Sky / Humans / Stealing Fire Deluxe Editions

The Canadian troubadour cherry-picks three more titles from his lengthy catalog.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


THE YEARS: 1971; 1980; 1984.

THE STORIES: Second only to Gordon Lightfoot in impact and import, Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn has an intimidatingly lengthy back catalogue — nearly two dozen albums in 30 years. To introduce newbies and reward the faithful, Cockburn and his longserving label True North have been cherry-picking some of his best titles and revamping them. The latest trio include his pretty, folk-flavoured 1971 sophomore album High Winds White Sky, his 1980 high-water mark Humans, and his strong 1984 offering Stealing Fire, all of which have been remastered and augmented with bonus cuts.

THE GOODIES: High Winds didn’t generate any hits, but more than gets by on the beauty of its fingerpicked guitars and poetic lyrics. Humans finds Cockburn incorporating reggae and jazz into his tunes, which include the classic Tokyo. If it’s hits you want, Stealing Fire fills the bill with Lovers In A Dangerous Time, Making Contact and the essential If I Had A Rocket Launcher, though its freeze-dried ’80s pop production dates these timeless cuts.

THE EXTRAS: Mostly the usual leftover studio tracks and live cuts — although High Winds does get historical bonus points for a pair of early coffeehouse recordings from 1970.