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September 6, 2016

Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Way It Is (1986)

by Record Facts

Bruce Randall Hornsby (born November 23, 1954) is an American singer and keyboardist. In 1984 he formed Bruce Hornsby and the Range, who were signed to RCA Records in 1985.

bruce hornsby & the range - the way it is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist:  Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Title:  The Way It Is
Year:  1986
Format:  LP
Label:  RCA Records
Catalog#  PL 89901

The Way It Is is Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s debut album, released in 1986. Led by its hit title track, the album went on to achieve multi-platinum status and helped the group to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Other hits from the album include “Mandolin Rain” and “Every Little Kiss“. Huey Lewis features on harmonica and vocals on “Down the Road Tonight” . Lewis also co-produced the song, along with the tracks “The Long Race” and “The River Runs Low”.

The group has a distinct sound of its own, often led by Hornsby‘s bright piano chords and elastic tenor, with cohesive and evocative arrangements; there is new age music here, as well as jazz and country, and the mixture is presented naturally by musicians who seem to have been playing with each other for some time. Similarly, the songwriting has its own flavor. Hornsby wrote seven of the nine songs with his brother John Hornsby, and they create their own world, a working-class environment of longing and loneliness set against the background of the Virginia Tidewater area. (The album cover displays a sepia-toned photograph of the band set over another photograph of the long Chesapeake Bay Bridge.) The lyrics are lightly poetic and restrained, for the most part. The exception is the title song (written by Bruce Hornsby alone), a brave if somewhat clumsily written attack on the heartless right-wing politics of the mid-’80s, as the U.S. suffered through a second Reagan administration determined to roll back civil rights gains. The boldness of the statement and the lovely piano theme more than compensate for the awkward writing, however, making the song one of the album’s most memorable. And that’s saying a lot when the competition includes the engaging “Mandolin Rain” and the appealingly romantic “Every Little Kiss” (Hornsby‘s other sole writing credit). Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the music is so accomplished. Hornsby was no teenage neophyte when he made it, having kicked around the music business and gotten into his thirties, and the band includes such veterans as David Mansfield, who may be remembered as a member of Bob Dylan‘s Rolling Thunder troupe and the Alpha Band, as well as being a film composer. Sometimes a debut album just happens to be the first music most people get to hear by a mature talent, and that’s the case here on the debut album of the year.

 

Side one
1.  On the Western Skyline  (4:42)
2.  Every Little Kiss  (5:48)
3.  Mandolin Rain  (5:19)
4.  The Long Race  (4:25)

Side two
1.  The Way It Is  (4:58)
2.  Down the Road Tonight  (4:26)
3.  The Wild Frontier  (4:04)
4.  The River Runs Low  (4:27)
5.  The Red Plains  (5:03)

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