Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey -
This album, though, is a little dull in places. The best tracks are the best simply because they're catchier than the others. These would be "Growin' Up," "The Angel," "For You," and "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?" The rest of 'em, no matter how good the lyrics might be at times (especially in the otherwise painful to listen to "Lost In The Flood") are a little lacking in the melody department. And, to be honest, it kinda doesn't feel like Bruuuuuuce has quite found his own voice yet; for example, the first lyrics on the album are "Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat/In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat," which, I don't think I have to tell you, are evidence of a young Zimmerman fan trying a LITTLE too hard to be as clever and abstruse as his idol. Personally, I don't listen to this album a whole lot, but that might just be because he has so many others that are better. It's a perfectly good debut. Not as good as D.R.I.'s first album, but I guess that goes without onions.
I love the little guitar bit at the start of "Blinded by the Light" as well. I'd give it a seven as well, but that's a good seven.
I think Bruce is at his best when he's doing the 'look-at-me now' schtick, with personal songs like 'Growin' Up' and 'It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City'. These ones do hit hard after a few listens. But I fully agree with Mark that on 'Blinded By The Light', as well as many others, he's just taking his Dylan legacy too seriously.
Furthermore, I can't see how anybody can praise the melodies on this album. Melodies? Ben says there are TIMELESS MELODIES on this album when he hates Bob Dylan for never having penned a good melody? This is just your average guitar/piano/occasional sax loungey stuff, rootsy jams that never go anywhere in particular. Even when Bruce is able to establish a strong groove, like at the beginning of 'Spirits In The Night', it falls apart in ten seconds. I mean, after having enough time to soak in this material and not really having anything in particular against the STYLE and ATMOSPHERE, I still shrug my shoulders when it comes to the individual songs. And specially for Ben: trying to dig this album while pouring shit on Dylan is ten times as ridiculous as praising wax fruit for looking way more attractive than real one. Man, tastes are sure a bizarre thing.
Dylan on the other hand...a poet. Pure and simple. His landscape was the soul (usually his own!). Bruce told stories of his youth in N.J. and the Big Apple.
Really, if you consider the paths these artists cut for themselves they are miles apart each expressing their unique genius in different manners, different formats. I'd really like to kick he ass of whatever marketing idiot placed such an unfair label on a budding artist!
Anywho, I have no idea why i put off getting into the 'Steen, but i did. And i have to admit i'm a bit sorry for it, cause he's really quite good, in my opinion. Here's a song-by-song commentary:
1) "Blinded By The Light"
The first time I heard this song was when I was working at a local movie theatre a few years ago. Unfortunetly, it was the Manfred Man version (all mid / late-70's synthi-fied --- and they cut out a few verses as well!). Anyway, i had to hear that at least 3 times every shift. (hmmm.... maybe that contributed to my latecoming to da Bruce-man). Well, Springsteen tries to be Dylan, as for most of this album. And while it's ambitious as hell, sometimes it falls short. So many rhymes in all the stanzas. One of them has to be a dud sometimes....
Anyway, I much prefer the 'Steen version.
What the hell is song about, anyway??
Note: Oh, and also, the up-beat songs with the drums all seem to be the same tempo and somewhat the same beat....hmmmm.....
2) "Growin' Up"
[no, not the recent Peter Gabriel song off of Up....hahaha]
This song seems to me to be somewhat the blueprint for future Bruce songs like "10th Avenue Freeze-out".
3) "Does this bus stop at 82nd Street?"
This is a short song, but it packs a catchy punch (if there is such a thing). I like the ending, with cutting the beat in half and the slow down.
4) "Lost in the Flood"
This is where Bruce gets all dramatic and such. Thus, some of his lyrics tend to be forced, and sometimes downright bizzare
Case in Point: "His countryside's burnin' with wolfman faries dressed in drag for homicide". WTF?! I'm not even going to try and decipher that lyric with a ten foot pole.
(ok that didn't make any sense, but lets just go on anyway)
What is the line ".... lost in the flood" a metaphor for anyway? It seems to me the song is about this US soldier that came back from Vietnam to his town.... but you never know with old Brucey-boy, could be about anything...
5) "The Angel"
This is one of my very favourite songs from the album. It's not really the lyrics, but it's the way Bruce sings them, and it fits so well with the slow piano and the melancholy/depressing minor-chord changes. Damn this is a good song.
6) "For You"
I'm not really a fan of this song, but maybe i haven't given it enough listens....
7) "Spirit in the Night"
This is catchy and it has a good chorus. Just a pretty good song.
8) "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City"
This is my other favourite song on the album besides "The Angel". Great beat, good lyrics, good vocal delivery, etc. I especially like the transition into and including the part that starts "The sister fell back and said / 'Don't that man look pretty' " ... the transition from loud to soft. Good thing occurs more than once....And the song has a great ending as well, with the faster, almost double time drum beat and guitar strum.
Why this wasn't very (commercially) popular upon initial release is beyond me. (As far as i know it was recieved well critically with good reviews when it came out) It's a pretty good debut album, with some flaws (some overreaching lyrics, and Bruce's voice isn't up to the ragged greatness it would become in time for Born to Run).
I'm torn between giving this a 7 or an 8.
So i'll give it a 7.5
The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle - Columbia 1973.
Some dumbass professor at my old college once told his class that "Born To Run is the most complete musical statement ever made." Now, rather than naming about 50 albums that outdo that fine LP, I'm only going to point out that this Wild album manages to keep me in a fantasy world for a good 47 minutes straight every time I listen to it - something I don't even think Born To Run is even attempting to do. This is Bruce at his most epic and grandiose and, as such, either his most exciting or his most laughably bombastic, depending on whether you're willing to suspend your disbelief and buy into this romanticized vision of everyday life in early '70s New York Shitty. Me? I buy. And I don't even really like the title track! Did I mention how beautiful "Wild Billy's Circus Story" and "New York City Serenade" are? The fourth piano chord in the "Serenade" melody alone almost brings me to tears of joy every time I hear it. Maybe I'm just becoming "one of them"??????
"Rosalita" is the obvious highlight, but there are no slouchers on this album, easily a nine, and if he hadn't made Born to Run, this would get a ten, but alas, he did, and this doesn't.
Springsteen seems to come into his voice on this record with earnest emotion and commitment. This record, in my hunble opinion, is the true debut.
"Rosalita" is, in my opinion, the definitive Springsteen track. Right up there with "Thunder Road," and maybe "Jungleland," if you have an open mind. Every line is perfect, especially the climax, "THE RECORD COMPANY JUST GAVE ME A BIG ADVANCE!!!" Personal stuff, but it's fun, fun, fun! You really start to feel for the guy. And then that absolutely monumental piano introduction to "New York City Serenade." Where on Earth did that come from? I never would have expected something like that from Springsteen (sure, he's done plenty of piano balladry, but NOTHING compares to this!), and I could never hope for anything better. "New York City Serenade," the whole song, has got to be some sort of milestone or something. Why, whenever people make their lists of the "Greatest Songs of Rock and Roll" do they overlook these last two tracks? I mean, "Stairway to Heaven," "Satisfaction," "Light My Fire"...sure, they're all sacred in a way, and it would be a sin not to include them. But, in my own, humble opinion, MOST OF THE STUFF ON THIS RECORD BLOWS ANY OF THEM OUT OF THE WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's catchy, yet meditative. Most of all it's nostalgic, but it also has an understated beauty. It's hard to argue with an ensemble as great as the E Street Band, but I have to say that this is the best lineup the Boss ever had. Or ever will have, for that matter. The drummer here is so much more tasteful than Max (although the overpowering showmanship the latter expresses on Born to Run is, admittedly, just what Bruce was looking for)!
I love this album. It would be in my top ten ever, and it should be in everybody's! Right alongside Pet Sounds, Astral Weeks and London Calling! I can't believe it never received the critical acclaim of those three records...if any album deserves to be called perfect, it is this one. Well, that might be a bit of a stretch. There are some slow spots, some poor patchwork, but on the whole this 'ere is a gem!!! Bruce before he made it big. That guy over at AMG was right on when he said...well, I can't quite remember just what he said. Something about how Bruce made a bunch of different records, but none were better than this. Maybe. That's what he should have said, if he didn't. And if he did, then good for him! A classic, classic, classic, superspiffy record that has earned a place on everyone's shelves. Pick it up, along with Born to Run and Nebraska, and see why they call Springsteen "the Boss."
Prodigal Son - Bootleg 19??.
Again, the reason you've never heard these tracks is probably because an alarmingly high number of them sound like Bob Dylan rip-offs, both musically and lyrically. But they're darn GOOD Bob Dylan rip-offs! If you want to sit down and listen to this whole double-CD set, drink lots of cola first. These songs are slow, slow, slow.
Born To Run - Columbia 1975.
But Bruce feels the pain, rage, and fear, and goddarnit, he's gonna break out!!! And optimistic upbeat saxophone-heavy rock and roll's gonna help him!!!! He and his gal are gonna live wild and free, and ain't nobody gonna stop him!!!! Oh happy day!!!!! This is life at its most exciting!!!!!
Clarence Clemons is probably the star of this album, his solos in the title track, and (especially) "Jungleland" send shivers down the spine and a smile to the face whenever I hear it. I admire Bruce for not hogging this album, the E Street band were an excellent backup on the first two albums, but here they reallly share the workload, Max Weinberg's drumming suits Bruce far more than Vini Lopez's would on this album, and Roy Bittan is a very welcome addition on the piano.
Anything less than 10/10 is a crime against humanity. Everyone should be made to listen to this album, and every song should be sung before school every morning.
Born to Run is to music what "Catcher in the Rye" is to literature. A timeless classic about the trials of youth.
(a few months later)
Yay! Born To Run! Hmm, why am I typing about Born To Run, again? Well, I'll tell ya why! Mr., I'm a teenager, and it's about 28 days 'till I graduate. Needless to say I've got a bunch of angst! I'm not really sure what angst means though. You, see, what I am trying to say is that I can relate to many of the sentiments brought about in Born To Run. But, you see, that's the thing, if you can't do that then the appeal of this album is sliced and diced. You might hear a 6th grader singing a catchy Beatles songs but you probably won't hear them sing Jungleland. If you can't relate to this stuff.... then, well, you probably won't really like it. Take, Backstreets for example. I must've heard that songs about 50 times before I even came close to liking it. I only started liking it because I actually paid attention to the lyrics. Backstreets is not like Born In The U.S.A. or Dancin' In The Dark. Backstreets does not have a really catchy chorus or guitar riff or what have you. The music, by itself is compelling.... but only if you listen to the details.... but it's never as compelling as it is when it is complementing the singing. You see, as disected parts no areas of Born To Run stand apart too well without the others. That is, except the lyrics. Bruce Springsteen is a fine lyricist. You don't have to listen to the music to know the lyrics are excellent. Bruce Springsteen is excellent at conveying emotions through lyrics without being hung up on pretentions. Bob Dylan is an excellent lyricist.... but he's more dazzaling.... he maybe can bend words and phrases better than anyone.... but does that matter? I don't remember who.... but a famous American poet once said something along the lines of: "don't use a million dollar word if a 10 cent one will do." That's not the exact quote, but I agree with the sentiment. That's what Springsteen does with his lyrics much of the time, he boils them down to the point. Isn't that why Downtown Train is Tom Waits' most beloved song? It's simple and to the point and it honsetly, without TOO much pretentions, conveys human emotions. Isn't that why punk was so respected when it first arrived? I don't think it's Bruce is belittiling the subjects he sings about either. I'm sure he, coming from the streets of New Jersey and being of the human race, has felt the feelings he sings about too..... just making up the settings for them. Isn't that what many great writers do and are praised for, taking natural human emotions and creating settings where these are acentuated? Isn't that what Springsteen is doing? I think so. Like Paul Simon once said: (once again, I don't have the exact quote) "I don't think he (the Bruce man!) actually goes out looking for girls on the Jersey turnpike, but I think a part of him does." That's exactly the point. That's what Springsteen conveys so well in this album. The intense drama of these situations are brought out so well through the music and the singing. It(the album) may not be immediate..... but that's because there's so much content that it may take your brain a bit to wrap itself around it. So is the thing bombast? I disagree GREATLY! I think everything on the album completemts each other well. The lyrics may seem bombastic, but they're not, they're the OPPOSITE! I'll tell ya what's bombastic, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, hell, Frank Zappa! These guys let their pretentions get in the way. I'm sure Springsteen does... I mean, I'm not disagreeing that he does, I don't think the guy is a saint (ok, ok, I do!). But (yay! Another ill-cited quote!) he once said this (something like it)....... well, I won't even try to quote it, but he said something like.... well, rock 'n' roll is at its best when the people can look up at the performer and see themselves and the preformer can look down and see himself. Jeez, that's the point! Guys like Frank Zappa are talented as hell, but guys like Frank Zappa many times use the industry as a tool, a their own broadcasting system to get their ideas of how things are and how things should be. This, in and of itself is not wrong.... I mean, Frank Zappa's criticims are just. Springsteen, though, is doing something different. He does not force his ideas on you, he portrays them for us. The music then acts like the dancing in West Side Story, it is used to help magnify the basic ideas. Are the ideas naive? I don't know. I've heard that criticism.... which seems a bit contradictory........ I guess these people have all the answers. They don't. Neither does Bruce Springsteen. He's not trying to give out the secret to happiness or something. He's relating universal human emotions to people through music. Isn't that the nature of rock n' roll? Isn't that what the blues were for? I don't know, but that would be my guess. As long as you can listen to the album and see yourself, then you're listening to the work of an effective lyricist. That's what Bruce Springsteen is! Oh man.......... ok, well, I'm done! This review is from MatthewByrd@hotmail.com and not from Jcb2533@hotmail.comI don't think that matters though. Oh my goodness.... I've used the word emotion more times in this review than I have in my enire life.......... ok, I'm going to go take a shot of testosterone, feel more manly! Jeepers Creepers people, though, you wouldn't get these long, ill-conceived rants if you wouldn't say bad things about Born To Run (George "I kill babies" Starosin... or something). No, George is a fine reviewer. I could go longer..... but I'm not going to. I hope this review doesn't sound as idiotic as the last one. Oh well. I haven't checked the spelling of anything.... so, there's probably some problems. Good NIGHT in Jungleland, don't get run over by any cars when Meeting Across The River, and please, don't get caught attacking young boys on them Backstreets!
Bruce Springsteen - "People deserve. . . the truth. They deserve honesty. The best music, you can seek some shelter in it momentarily, but it's essentially there to provide you something to face the world with."
1.THUNDER ROAD: 1953 MOVIE. HARMONICA BLOWING. BRUCE AS ROY ORBISON TELLING HIS SWEET WOMAN TO GET OUT OF THE MUNDANE WORLD AND GET INTO BRUCE! THESE 2 LANES WILL TAKE YOU ANYWHERE! GHOST IN THE ALLEY WAY! SKELETON FRAMES AND BURNED OUT CHEVYS! YOUR GOWN FALLS ON YOUR FEET! I DARE YOU TO SING IT DRUNK!
2.10TH AVE. FREEZE OUT: JAZZ! BAD SCOOTER AND BIG WILLIE! A TRANSISTOR BLASTS! SOUNDS LIKE CHICAGO!
3.NIGHT: FAST SONG! JAMED CHROME INVADERS! SWEET LOVELY BRITTNY MURPHY SHE IS SO PRETTY THAT YER LOST IN THE STARS! CARS AND HIGHWAY SINGS!
4.BACKSTREETS: NOT THE BACKSHIT BOYS! THE STORY IS ABOUT THE DANGERS ON THE STREET AND THE LAST OF THE DUKE STREET KINGS! BRUCE SANG ABOUT THE HARD LIFE EVERYBODY WENT THROUGH! THEY WENT THROUGH HELL TO GET A JOB. DAMN! BRUCE YA' ROCK! FUCK GEORGE STROOSTAN UP HIS GAY FAGGOT ASS! DIE RUSSIAN FUCK! I BET HE SUCKED 50 AND THE GAME'S DICKS CAUSE HE LIKED RAP FAGGOTS! FUCK IT! THINGS WILL NEVER BE BETTER ANYWAY!
5.BORN TO RUN!: THE STREETS OF THE AMERICAN DREAM AND SUICIDE MACHINES! SPRUNG FROM CAGES ON HIGHWAY 9 CHROME WHEELED FUEL INJECTEDAND READY TO FIRE! I DARE YOU TO SING IT DRUNK! IN FRONT OF 90,000 DRUNK ROWDY FANS!
6.SHE'S THE ONE: COOL ORGAN INTRO SOUNDS LIKE A SYNTH. BRUCE AND HIS ORBISON OVERDUBBED VOCALS AND BAM! 50'S ROCK! AS A KID I GOT SO TIRED OF VIETNAM I HUNG TO THIS AND MY KISS AND RUSH RECORDS AND NEVER LET GO!
7.MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER: LONELY JAZZ PIANO AND JAZZY SAX IS LIKE A SMOKY CHICAGO VIBE! DON’T FEEL BLUE.
8.JUNGLELAND!: AHH! THE ADVENTURES OF THE RAT MAN AND SANDY! DOWN IN JUNGLELAND! WARS OF ROCK, PROG, PUNK, METAL BANDS, DISCO SUCKS COCK! THE JAZZY SAX SOLO BY CLERENCE CLEMONS! MAN I GO TO CHICAGO JUST TO PICTURE THE CITY! BUT THE RAT IS DEAD.
MANY BRUCE ADVENTURES ARE ON THE WAY SO STAY TUNED FOR THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD. AND GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK NY! 10!10!10!10!10!10!
Fact: this invariably show up on of everyone's "Top 20 Albums of All Time Forever Which I Will Take With Me on a Desert Island" list. I question myself. "Am I missing something? Why does this sucker just not do it for me, big time?" Let's look at it song by song. Bear with me; think of it as therapy, plus I'm way less obnoxious than some who post here.
Thunder Road: Starts out with some guy practicing his piano arpeggios, so he'll be ready to play on a Dire Straits album a year or two down the road. The Boss is playing harmonica and singing, jamming with the arpeggiating dude. When the guitar finally kicks in, it almost makes up for the spaghetti-western-harmonica start, almost lifts the song to takeoff. But then the chorus comes along and I hear what I swear is a glockenspiel. Damn PBR! Wait, it says right on the album cover that it's glockenspiel. Mister, I ain't drunk after all. What the fuck is a glockenspiel doing on a rock record? Eh? You want me to shove that glockenspiel up your ass? Eh? The sad fact is even the Moody Blues never tried that unless they were misguidedly playing with the London Symphony Orchestra! I realize this is an affront to some and sacrilege to many, but this is a only an above-average song to lead off the album. I give +1 point for the lyrics. 8/10.
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out: Like someone else said, sounds like Chicago wrote the horn charts. In my case, this is not meant as a compliment. 5/10.
Night: Pretty good generic rock, has some nice chord changes moving into the chorus, which gets it +1. 6/10.
Backstreets: We've only been waiting nearly the whole side for this, but finally we get a classic song. This thing rocks and rolls and kicks my sorry little ass all the way from here to Tupelo, honey. 10/10.
Born To Run: Wow, things are really picking up. One of the greatest riffs ever written. Use of glockenspiel forgiven on this song due to said riff. The song gets bogged down eventually in the Spector-esque production. Fuck the wall of sound. That may have sounded good with a bunch of girl groups in the early 60's, but just ask Sir Paul McCartney what the "Phil sound" does to a post-1964 rock record. Jeez, you have to re-release it Naked. So okay, Born To Run is one of the finest songs ever written. 11/10.
She's the One: Another generic rocker. 5/10.
Meeting Across the River: Yep, bring out the jazzy trumpet and make things sound real 2:00 AM and moody. 3/10.
Jungleland: That dude from track one's practicing his arpeggios again and the Boss is singing the usual great lyrics. Then you get some majestic organ, and this sucker turns fantastic until, Uh Oh, here comes a big Clarence Clemons solo.
Real quick let's go ahead and quote no less a well-known saxophone authority than Mr. Robert Zimmerman, who had some words to say regarding HIS sax player (who was compared with Clarence during this era): "...the saxophone thing was almost slanderous...I wasn't that familiar with Bruce's work, his saxophone player couldn't be spoken of in the same breath as Steve Douglas...I mean no offence to Clarence or anything but he's not in the same category." Check it out, you can read it in the book that comes with Biograph.
So back to Jungleland. I say 9/10.
Well you add up those numbers and I don't see a masterpiece. I see a couple of great songs, a couple of near greats, and some good stuff which would be called filler if it were not Springsteen. Not exactly desert island stuff. Fortunately, the Boss did have a couple masterpieces in him, the first of which showed up a couple of years down the road...
Hammersmith Odeon London '75 - Columbia 2006
Robin Williams: "I was struck by the strong influence of '60s r'n'b, merged as it was with a sort of Van Morrison/Tom Waits singer-songwriter WHOA LOOK AT THE TINY MAN RUN UNDER THE TABLE NEEEEEEOOOOO!"
George Carlin: "11 of the 16 songs were over six minutes long. But look at that word - 'long.' Why is it so short? Shouldn't it be a LOOOOOOOOONG word? Also, fart."
Cheech: "The songs were exhausting, man! They dragged on and on and on,
with blustery saxophone and pianos, hoarse vocals and way too many slow
parts. The tight urban atmosphere of the studio recordings was expanded
into a sprawling, endless snore."
Chong: "It sure wasn't marijuan-derful!"
Cheech: "But hopefully some day he'll write a song called 'Born in the USA,' because I have a great idea for a parody like Weird Al."
Cheech: "Weird Al."
Chong: "Oh! Weird Al's not home!"
Steve Martin: "He performed two covers, as well as four songs from each of his first two albums and six songs from his most recent release, Born to Run. But honestly, I'd rather talk about art."
Gallagher: "This performance was actually where I got the idea to sledge hammer a watermelon onstage. Watching Springsteen splatter his audience in shit for two hours was a real inspiration."
Carrot Top: "I'll never forget that horrible night. It was November 18th, 1975, and I'd just finished designing a car with a ping-pong ball attached to it, for people who like to play ping-pong while driving a car."
Alan Thicke: "What was with that corny Detroit medley? This guy thinks he's qualified to sing Mitch Ryder? Come on. And the cover of Gary Bonds' "Quarter To Three" sounded about as soulful as a Bruce Willis/Jim Belushi duet. But let me ask you this -- would you be interested in trying our classic McRib, back for a limited time?"
Andrew Dice Clay: "Hickory dickory dock/These guys played lousy bar rock/They did "Thunder Road"/I jerked out a load/Wait, these aren't the correct words to 'Hickory Dickory Dock'."
Jimmy "J.J." Walker: "His stage patter was DYN-O-Moronic."
Dane Cook: "Did you see that guy? What was up with that? I mean, seriously! What was up with that? His stage patter was dyno-moronic!"
Yakov Smirnoff: "In the Soviet Union, shitty 13-minute version of 'The E Street Shuffle' plays YOU!"
Margaret Cho: "What the show really needed were some DYKES! Licking each others' CUNTS! Come on, those were great jokes."
Jackie Mason: "Oy vey! I hate to kvetch, but that goy schlemiel and his gang of schmucks just schlepped onstage and played a bunch of schmaltzy schlock! And the shmendrik shiksas in the crowd noshed on that bupkes as if it were their bubbe's kosher knishes! Mishegas! Feh!"
Jimmy Fallon: "If he's the 'Boss,' then I'm 'going on va-ha ha! Ha ha! I'm going on v-ha hahah! HA HAH HAHAHAH! HAHAHHAAAHAHAA! Oh look, I've been given a late night television show."
Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Columbia
First, there's "Badlands": "You wake up in the night with a fear so real/Spend your life waiting for a moment that just won't come." Next is "Adam Raised A Cain": "Daddy worked his whole life for nothing but the pain/Now he walks these empty rooms, looking for something to blame." Then, "Something In The Night": "When we found the things we loved, they were crushed and dying in the dirt." Next, "Candy's Room": "There's a sadness hidden in that pretty face, a sadness all her own, from which no man can keep Candy safe." Fifth, "Racing In The Street": "She sits on the porch of her Daddy's house, but all her pretty dreams are torn/She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born."
Yes sir! Then side two offers you the joy of "The Promised Land": "But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold/Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode." Next is "Factory": "Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes and you just better believe, boy, somebody's gonna get hurt tonight." Eighth is "Streets Of Fire": "In the darkness I hear somebody call my name/and when you realize how they tricked you this time/And it's all lies but I'm strung out on the wire." Ninth is the hit single "Prove It All Night": "There's so much that you want, you deserve much more than this/But if dreams came true, oh, wouldn't that be nice." And finally, the suicide note ends with the stirring title track: "Some folks are born into a good life/Other folks get it anyway, anyhow/I lost my money and I lost my wife/Them things don't seem to matter much to me now."
Sorry I made you sit through that, but these lyrics blow me away, and I wanted to see if I could make them blow you away, too. Sadly, aside from the supercool constructions of "Candy's Room," the title track, and a couple others, most of the melodies are interchangeable. Same ol' sort of blues-based two or three-chord constructions you heard on the last album, but played a little slower for sorrowful effect. Maybe he did it on purpose? Tales of life's stagnation set to a backdrop of (somewhat) musical stagnation? Who knows? Good stuff, though. Little Brucie is growing up!
Although there are tons of references to being beaten by life, there are also indications of redemption through perseverance... of "Spitting in the face of these Badlands". The Springsteen blue collar heroism is at its most adamant on this record because it is fighting against so much blackness. Sad, but at the same time strangely uplifting, too. An odd but rewarding listening experience.
A transitional LP, and a good one. I listened to it a lot.
I give it a 7.5.
The River - Columbia 1980.
And why? Mainly because all the rockers sound exactly the same! Musically speaking, this is essentially a cross between the last two records that offers nothing new to excite the listener. It definitely has its share of phenomenal tracks (the title track, "Independence Day," "The Ties That Bind," "Wreck On The Highway") but, like my goddamn down-to-my-ass hippy hair, it could also use a nice bit of trimming. In fact, it woulda made a darn fine single-album without generic (though exuberant) rockers like "Crush On You," "You Can Look," "Two Hearts," and all them other tonic-subdominant classics cloggin' up the musical artery. Don't call me on that, by the way, as I honestly have no clue whether the songs are actually tonic-subdominant. They sure seem like it anyway!!!! If you see it cheap, pick it up, but I don't think it's worth the cost of your normal average everyday double-CD.
The second cd is different to the first and is harder for me to like than the first, but I do.
I give this a high 8, I take off points for some songs which sorta don't get me going as much as other songs do. Great album nonetheless. Oh yeah, I bought it really cheap as well, the price of a cheap single cd, so bonus!
The first track, "The Ties That Bind," is the only boring song on the disc. From there it picks up immediately and dramatically. "Jackson Cage," the song about the girl who finds herself becoming a small-town cliche, "Hungry Heart," the guy who leaves his family to "find" himself, only to wind up back home eating humble pie, and," "Independence Day," the kid confronting the inevitable heartbreak leaving home causes his dad are all great songs and tell great stories. The best track is "The Price You Pay," a guy's hard work and gut-wrenching disappointment met time and time again with failure. Is hard work and determination really enough to make it in this world? Springsteen certainly doesn't seem to think so, but his character is gonna kill himself trying. A phenomenal song as all of these are.
In between it's "serious" statements, Springsteen works the rock and roll spectrum with enormous agility and inspiration. "You Can Look" totally knocks off the Stones' "Happy," "I Wanna Marry You" sounds like it was found abandoned in one of the old rooms of the Brill Building, and in "I'm a Rocker," (he certainly is) Springsteen simply asserts his rightful place in the patheon of rock and roll musicians.
An EASY 10, except for Born to Run, this is Springsteen's best record. A phenomenal, stunning record.
Oh and the comment above about the River being better than Exile, that's just an insult to rock music, absolutely scandalous.
Nebraska - Columbia 1982.
I was blown away. Yeah, it's depressing (I can't think of another record that tops it), but the songwriting is so good and true to heart. It's made me want to look more into Bruce, who I had previously cast off as being too boisterous.
You see, I enjoy Bruce for his melodies and his sheer energy - both of which are really toned down for this album in order to make way for repetetive Dylan-isms. I don't get how people can say that he "hasn't found his own voice" on the debut, but praise this album, despite the fact that it's twice as shameless a ripoff of Bob than that swell first album was. All of the numbers have very intriguing lyrics, but the songs are just mood music, and not very good mood music at that. The only ones that I can stand are "Atlantic City" and "Highway Patrolman," and only the first of those is really good. The rest of these are just a drag to sit through. And I like stripped down, depressing music, but these songs just don't seem to have any heart in them. That's my view of it, at least - keep in mind I don't like Dylan, and can't stand it when people imitate him. Unless the songs are really good, of course.
And let's be honest - although the imagery on this is certainly first-rate, I can think of dozens of albums that put me in a much nicer bleak mood. It's not exactly the "harrowing experience" that most claim it is. Of course, that's just personal opinion.
Haunting and beautiful in its uncompromising bleakness, this is one Springsteen album I do not hesitate to recommend. It is a wonder.
I love the sound of it too..."Open All Night" sounds like Bruce is just rehearsing for himself on an empty stage, hours before a big show or something - it's not polished at all, it's not some stupid let's-slow-things-down-and-light-some-candles thing, it's pure.
And I don't find it overdramatic at all, even if my eyes have gone teary occasionally, on "Highway Patrolman" and "Reason to Believe", but it was for the opposite reason - that it's so simple and without any pretentions - it's just great melodies, beautiful melodies - and I feel like that's the last thing I'd want to hear, that they'd be the perfect songs for a funeral...And not to literally have it played on a funeral... But, it's hard to explain, but when the harmonica goes on during the end of "Reason to Believe", it's as if "that's it"... Like it doesn't get any better than that, but still it's not supposed to be better than anything - there's this purity about it, and if I could describe it better, I would - I'm seriously trying to avoid making things complicated here. If that - overdramatic - goes for the lyrics, then I can say that I rarely pay attention to them...I just hear a few interesting lines here and there, otherwise I'll only listen or look in the booklet when I want to learn the words because I want to sing the tunes.
The only other Springsteen record that I've heard is The Ghost of Tom Joad, and I see they both got the same rating, but I think this one is superior. There are some really good songs on that one too, but that one lacks the purity, it's polished - it even has keyboards...And Bruce sounds like a dead guy. He had this long, long, rock 'n' roll career behind him, and then he puts out an acoustic one...It's just so typical. With this one, it's more like he just steps out of it for a second. That's probably why I get the image about Bruce sitting on the side of a stage rehearsing by himself... And it's like this record captured that moment. And then things went back to normal.
This is one of my favourite albums, and being demanding as I am, I'd still give it a full 10/10.
So basically, Nebraska is an album that provides the listener with a great atmosphere, with the ability to envelope the listener with thoughts and pictures, like any good Tom Waits album, with creepy harmonicas and acoustic guitars and crackling ever so once in a while. Many of the songs are pretty catchy too....... so......... an 8 1/2 from me......... even though an 8 is probably closer. I should proofread my reviews or something. They're always half-baked and about albums that I haven't listened to in years. Really, though, there is a lot of potential in many of the half-baked songs too. DANG, Beggar's Banquet is great! Truly the Stones' best!
Going song-by-song on this album would be moronic - it's not the kind of album you can really do that with. So, a little background. Bruce was supposedly living through a pretty bad period of depression when he wrote and recorded these songs in his specially designed recording room in New Jersey. All of these songs were originally recorded on a Tascam Portastudio 4-track - granted, a professional engineer was operating it, but you know...it sounds amazing for a fucking 4-track.
Trivia about this album:
1 - Mastering apparently involved an echo unit, which accounts for at least some of the ambience.
2 - Apparently, if you listen hard enough, you can hear cars going by outside Bruce's house.
3 - "Born In The USA" was originally recorded as an acoustic-only demo around this time too, supposedly.
Basically, all of these songs were demos, and he meant to turn them into your general E Street Band rouse-a-ramas. But, he just couldn't get them to work with the band - the arrangements cluttered up the songs and screwed them up. Bruce had been carrying these songs around on a cassette for a while, I think for almost a year, when he finally got the idea to release them as is - just acoustic guitar, harmonica and lead vocals, with a little mandolin, backing vocal and synthesizer added when he saw fit after the fact.
Highlights on this album include "Nebraska" and "Johnny 99," about as cold and chilling as folk songs get about killing, with fascinating differences in narrative tone, "Atlantic City," one of Springsteen's finest songs, the harrowingly sympathetic "Highway Patrolman," and the incredibly tense "State Trooper" (which Bruce appparently ripped off of Suicide, though I've heard Suicide and it doesn't sound like one of their songs melodically...) It does trail off a little after that, although "Used Cars" and "Reason To Believe" are nearly as good as the songs I've mentioned. For the most part, the melodies can be pretty sketchy - what's the difference between "Mansion On The Hill" and "Used Cars" musically? I really, really don't hear much of one, except that the lyrics and the vocals are better on "Used Cars" - but on an album this atmospheric and depressed, it often doesn't matter.
I don't mean to rag on the E Street Band, or Bruce, but it's taken me years not to retch whenever I hear him bellowing with the band behind him, and I still can't deal with it enough to like most of his stuff. I'm sure I'll like more of his output over time - he can be a great lyricist, an accomplished guitarist, and a very moving performer, as this album certainly shows - but Christ, Clarence Clemons is a lucky motherfucker, isn't he? That guy has two saxophone solos at most.
Overall, this probably gets an 8, rationally. The sound, the lyrics and the atmosphere get a 10 - one of my favorite albums from a production standpoint, without question - but the melodies don't.
* Born In The U.S.A. - Columbia 1984.
Classics include the title track (which is awfully depressing considering how anthemic the music is), "Cover Me," "Dancing In The Dark," "Glory Days," the countrified "I'm On Fire," and the slow ballad "My Hometown." Should-be classics include the phenomenal kickstartin' boogaloo of "Working On The Highway," the dramatic urgency of "Downbound Train," and the toe-tapping poppiness of "I'm Goin' Down," "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean." That leaves "Darlington County," a rednecky tune that I would hate if it were surrounded by like material, but since it's on its own in this sea of slick rock and roll bliss, it too sounds like a winner. And there's a butt on the cover!!!! I can see old-time fans despising this material, as it seems awfully radio-ready for a performer who formerly wrote such amazing lengthy sax-driven epics, but dammit to hell, it shouldn't have come as any big shock. I mean, it's basically a hopped-up, trimmed-down remake of The River. So great. No wonder he became a household name! Maybe you know him as "Fork?"
I will agree that Springsteen penned some pretty catchy melodies here...but, you know what?...it sounds so damned forced. So un-Bruce. I remember hearing Dancing in the Dark for the first time and flinching. Actually, flinching. And that video! (Yikes!) Brian DePalma directing Bruce with Courtney Cox? What a nightmare. I rate the album a 6. My least listened to Springsteen album.
Now here is an interesting story.
I was at the Stadium down the road, watching BS play in 1985. He said he seen me singing with extraordinary passion during Born In The U.S.A. and he invited me on stage. I put on a guitar, and we played Born In The U.S.A!
Live/1975-85 - Columbia 1986.
I give the record a 9.
Tunnel Of Love - Columbia 1987.
And a lot of the others are just dull, see. It ain't depressing like Nebraska, and it ain't fun and alive like Born In The U.S.A.. It's just kinda.... ehhhh. It doesn't take me to any special place at all! It's just a guy singing along with a keyboard! Who needs that? If I wanted that, I'd just get out my damn Casio and crap all over the keys!!! If I wanted that, I'd just hire a mariachi band and kick 'em all in the ass!!! If I wanted that, I'd just watch MTV until they do away with non-boring-as-hell-R-n-B videos altogether!!!!! I don't want that!!! Frig you, "The Boss!!!" Keep releasing mediocre product like this and you'll be lucky if you wind up as "The Assistant Manager"!!!! Frig you!!!!
Okay, it's not really that bad.
It's not great, though, either.
After 10 years of writing about poor kids on the run, Bruce had really grown in the 80s. Nebraska talked about religion and murderers; Born in the U.S.A was the heroic, all-american working man album, but it too had a dark side. Tunnel of Love is where Bruce decided to write love songs, and he did it better than anyone. He covered every side and kind of love. Now, it can get sissyish once in a while (I really don't care for the title track), but I believe it to be one of Bruce's finest listening experiences. If you dig that "Secret Garden" song, go out and get this one.
And I really, really, really have to disagree with you on "Spare Parts". That is one of the most important, compassionate songs in rock. That it isn't recognised amazes me.
Oh, and "Walk Like a Man" makes me cry.
The gigs from this time are worth seeking out as well: Bruce sounds incredibly sad at times, at others on top of the world. It's hard to listen without thinking both "Thank God I'm not him: I hope he gets better soon." and "Gee this is SO good: thank God he's all fucked-up."
It's a shame you never got around to reviewing John Lennon's solo albums, and it's even more of a shame you don't like my favorite album of his.
Human Touch - Columbia 1991.
Now let me cease addressing Mr. Springsteen as if he is in fact reading my reviews! Hey, reader!!!! Bruce is playing rock and roll again, but NOT with the E Street Band, and NOT in a terribly interesting manner!!! I could never recommend this album to friends. It sounds completely plastic and predictable, with not a whit of past genius to be found ("57 Channels And Nothing On?" Why???). The only folks that could consider this a "perfectly good rock and roll record" completely missed punk rock. Bruce's early work manages to somehow transcend punk; this stuff sits beneath it like the bloated pointless pop pap that it is. Sure, he's older and calmer, and sure he's singin' about the married life, but not even his lyrics redeem this one. They too are, for the most part, dull and predictable!!! Rhyme over sentiment. No thanks.
Of all his official work and out-takes and on I currently prefer the early stuff. The contrast between the Heavy metal "Steel Mill" material through the acoustic collection( " Before the Fame") on to "Asbury Park" and the "Wild and the Innocent" is a fascinating transformation in the space of a couple of years. Once "Born to Run" hit the charts the whole ball game changed. Listen to the acoustic outake of "Thunder Road" which kind of marks the end of the beginning.
Bruce Springsteen for me is by far the greatest songwriter/performer of his generation. His output over 30 years + has been phenomenal not only in terms of the quality but for its quantity . If a criticism could be levelled it would be that he did not always know what stuff to put out and which to keep in the can although the issue of "Tracks " went some way to redeeming the situation.
Comparisons with Dylan are tiresome these days. What is clear that Bruce has incorporated many different influences into his music over the years and Dylan was undoubtedly one. Much as I like Dylan most of his output for the last 25 years has been largely rubbish; a criticism that cannot be levelled at Springsteen and I include "Human Touch " in that statement. Great CD for the car; give it another go. I've given up rating his albums as I like them all . "Darkness " would probably have to be no 1 if I was pushed.
1992 was the era of loud grunge and stupid gangsta rap! what the fuck do I know about these stupid trends? I never heard of human crotch! after I soundscaned it, it sucked! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. still I still say born to run is a defining moment for mr. classic rock god pedro! but I'm sorry this and lucky town are so slow. where is the energy? I got to find more music otherwise I fail! no doubt's debut! not tragic kingdom but I still say gwen stefani is so sexy! see the hollaback vizidio! sorry I am not snoop dogg! fo shizzile! god am I dorky! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. check your head by the beastie boys! my brother loves these guys! and joe satriani's the extremist! god prindle! why are you still a punk rock nut when you can chew on this!
Lucky Town - Columbia 1991.
Also, both came out in 1992 (March 30, 1992 -- if I must be a complete dick about it).
Put "Human Touch" (wasn't that a Springfield song??), "All or Nothin' At All", "Pony Boy" and "57 Channels" (it's silly sure, but it's not that bad. I've heard worse) together with all of Lucky Town and it would have been a great album.
As it is Lucky Town is a solid 7. Human Crotch is a 3 (and a half...maybe). Shrug.
Human touch...on the other hand...Polished. Bruce's vocals are excellent, and the production, while still suffering from the over-abundance of reverb, is good. Randy's licks and Roy's keyboard lines shine on this album...just listen to the rhodes solo towards the end of the title track. And I have to say. If you can't dig "Soul Driver" then you've got a major problem...if you are a Springsteen fan and I hope you would be looking at these pages.
All and all, Human Touch is a 7, Lucky Town is a 4.
Greatest Hits - Columbia 1995.
Oh, yeah - it's also missing "Blinded By The Night."
The Ghost Of Tom Joad - Columbia
Sorry about that. Call it what you will, these songs are moving. Heck, at times they're even harrowing! And who's Tom Joad? He used to play for the Knicks until he ran off to California in the great gold rush of 1987. Keep on truckin', Mr. Springleton!
Ghost of Tom Joad on the other hand leaves me feeling vulnerable and dirty. Less than human. Both records are extraordinary listening experiences, but also very very different. Ghost of Tom Joad is so bleak, it makes Nebraska sound like a party album.
I love this record, but it is so efficient at grinding me into the ground I am reluctant to call it enjoyable. Am I contradicting myself? Sure...but it is a remarkable paradox.
Most effective song here? "The New Timer". A classic song of unbelievable sadness and loss.
Words aside, this is the absolutely most boring album I've ever heard. Bruce's one-note melodies sound fine with a big rhythm section, but standing on their own, they sound like - one note melodies.
18 Tracks - Columbia 1999.
Springsteen the "New Dylan"? Not a fair comparison to either men. Each has made considerable contributions to rock & roll music. Bruce does what he does, just as Bobby has his own thing going on. I'd leave it at that...
Live in New York City - Sony 2001
Hi everybody! I'm Lil' Jib! MarkPrindle.com's Nielsen ratings have been slipping lately, so the network decided to bring in some new blood. And that blood is ME! Lil' Jib!
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I'm lil', and my name is Jib. And I'm... Lil' Jib!
The producer thought it would be a great idea for me to ingratiate myself into your heart right from the get-go by presenting an adorable "Lil' Jib"-style review of Live in New York City by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. So hold on tight - it's going to be a wild Lil' Jib ride!
Bruce Springsteen is the workingman's hero, bringing hope and excitement to the American worker just as Lil' Jib brings joy and laughter to the heart of the American TV viewer. Thankfully, these two categories seldom overlap, because I hate the lower class. In my view, they're nothing more than untouchable scum living off the taxpayers' money. And I'm Lil' Jib!
On this live double-CD, Bruce Springsteen and his All-Starr Band perform a whirlwind of delights including: four songs from The River; three from Born to Run; two each from Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska and Tracks (a box set of outtakes not reviewed here, so don't look for it! Take it from me, Lil' Jib!); one each from The Ghost of Tom Joad, Lucky Town, Greatest Hits, Born in the USA and Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.; and two brand new compositions never before seen or heard by anybody outside of Bruce's inner circle.
I apologize for the last paragraph. One of our key sponsors (Chevron) insisted that I tell the audience how many songs the band played off each album, in order to create the illusion that Mark Prindle is still involved with the program. Trust me - he's not. They fired his ass like a hot potato, and replaced him with me - Lil' Jib!
So let's get started with the program.
This album sucks. Fuck you.
And I'm Lil' Jib!
Top Television Host Mark Prindle Murdered by Psychotic
By Bob Q. Puclib
A nation mourned today at the untimely massacre of television personality Mark Prindle at the hands of Lil' Jib, a child actor hired by NBC in an effort to boost ratings of his long-running series MarkPrindle.com. Intended to star as the son of Prindle's new wife Sir Craps-A-Lot (portrayed by TV veteran Dixie Carter), Lil' Jib instead slashed the entire cast and crew to pieces with a ninja sword during his first scene. It was fucken hilarious.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Hey, this is "The Boss." Review my fucken album, asshole.
Boss "The Bruce" Springsteen
EXTRA! EXTRA! MARKPRINDLE.COM JUMPS THE SHARK!
by Doug Figger
A nation mourned today at the untimely shark jumping of MarkPrindle.com. Hot nut salesman Doug Clark was on the scene.
"It was horrible!" says Clark. "All he had to do was talk about how the first disc of Bruce Springsteen's Live in New York City is full of great melodic songs like 'My Love Will Not Let You Down,' 'Atlantic City,' 'The River' (in a stripped-down organ/accordion/acoustic arrangement), 'Murder Incorporated,' 'Badlands,' 'Out in the Street' and 'Born to Run,' but instead he decided to parody the '80s tradition of introducing a baby (Family Ties) or cute little kid (Diff'rent Strokes) to the cast of a situation comedy whose popularity is waning. Why he thought this idea would be relevant or clever, God only knows!"
Clark is correct. The 'review' is an abominortion, not even bothering to mention how godawful the entire second disc is, with its nondescript rarity "Don't Look Back," a pointless folk rewrite of "Born in the USA," two hideous and embarrassing new compositions (the boring 10-minute "Land of Hope and Dreams" and risible Amadou Diallo protest shit-song "American Skin"), and worst of all, sixteen painful and idiotic minutes of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," complete with band introductions and some of the stupidest stage patter since Paul Stanley joined Venom. Examples include (a) "Elvis is alive!" (b) "It's alright, yeah it's alright to have a good time!" (c) "I wanna go to that river of sexual healing!" (d) "I'm not bullshittin' back here!" and (e) "Tonight I wanna throw a rock'n'roll exorcism, a rock'n'roll baptism, and a rock'n'roll bar mitzvah!" Instead, Prindle wrote a fake New York Times article about his own murder.
"When I wrote that article, I had no idea that this was just a shitty record review," says Bob Q. Puclib, staff reporter for the New York Times. "Had I known that was the case, I would've mentioned that the chorus of the Amadou Diallo song is 'Is it a gun? Is it a knife? Is it a wallet? This is your life!' If it took Springsteen longer than one second to write that, he needs to go back to kindergarten and try the whole 'school' thing again."
Indeed, this reporter couldn't believe the asinine conceit of having Bruce Springsteen write a profane letter to the New York Times editor. Furthermore, I'm hardpressed to think of a dumber way for a writer to conclude a record review than by having a fake Variety article say "Fuck you," but that is precisely what happened here today. Still, we shall cherish our memories of early MarkPrindle.com, and long for its return evermore.
The Rising - Columbia 2002.
My wife and I were taking care of Sophie, a dog that we knew from the dog run. We were keeping her for three days while her owner Katie was in Colorado. However, our dog Henry was being very territorial and they kept getting in fights, so I didn't want to leave them alone during the day while the wife and I were at work. So what I had done on Monday was to walk both of them down 12 blocks to Sophie's apartment in the morning, bring Henry back up, then pick Sophie up at the end of the day and bring her back to our apartment. So I did the same thing on Tuesday.
I was pretty happy on Tuesday morning because Katie was due back in town that night around midnight, so we didn't have to pick Sophie up after work, and Henry wouldn't have to be nervous and territorial anymore. So I took her home, brought Henry back, got ready for work and took off out the door. At my old workplace, most people didn't show up until 9:20 AM, so I generally didn't leave home til 8:50. However, on this day, I was running late because of the whole Sophie thing. I didn't leave the apartment 'til 9:10. As I walked past one of several little magazine/soda shops that are between my apartment and the subway station, my ear suddenly caught the words "apparent terrorist attack" coming from the radio behind me. I turned around and saw several people gathered around the radio listening. I asked what was going on and a woman said, "Terrorists just ran two planes into the World Trade Center. Look - you can see the smoke." I looked down South and sure enough, a huge cloud of thick black smoke was going across the sky.
I should point out here that I live on 91st St. And the World Trade Center was FAR below 1st St.
So I was walking in a daze, trying to sort it out in my head, thinking to myself, "You really gotta hate a country to do something like that." Walked to the fruit cart guy, asked him if he knew about the incident. See, that's a thing about me that I don't like at all -- I ENJOY imparting news to people, not just good news but bad news as well. I'm not as bad about it as this guy I work with who I'll call Mr. Nervous, but I still feel it and am not proud at all of it. The fruit cart guy hadn't heard about it, but didn't seem very interested when I told him. Kept walking to the subway station at 86th. Black woman standing outside the station shouting, "THE WORLD TRADE CENTER IS ON FIRE! WHY ARE THEY STILL SENDING TRAINS DOWN THERE? MY SISTER WORKS THERE AND I CAN'T GET HER ON THE PHONE!" Having no answers for her, I continued down to the subway.
As I walked through the front section to the turnstiles, I heard snatches of conversation here and there -- "...small propeller planes....," "....two of them....." -- and I was still just 'out of it'. Looking back now, I can't believe that I would have continued going to work instead of going down to the World Trade Center itself. That's the sort of thing one would generally want to see first-hand, if only to convince oneself that it's really happening. As for why I didn't, I guess I just didn't realize at that point what a big deal it was. I KNEW it was a crazy, unprecedented way to attack a national landmark, but for some reason it didn't occur to me that just because I was late for work didn't mean that everybody ELSE in the city was late for work. I figured it was 2 small planes that made fires, and those fires would either go out on their own or firefighters would put them out. Nobody -- NOBODY -- even considered the fact that the buildings might collapse. That wasn't even within the realm of possibility.
So I went to work. I got on the subway and noticed that everybody seemed way too calm and normal, so I asked the woman next to me if she'd heard about what happened. She hadn't, so I told her. She was, of course, upset. She got off the train at 42nd St, I continued to 33rd St. As I walked to Madison Avenue where I worked, I could see the smoke even more clearly. I figured that everybody at work had already heard about it, so I just went up to the office and back into a South-facing office where I could watch the black smoke billowing through the sky. I watched it for maybe ten minutes and was thinking to myself, "Well, I guess I better get to work now," when a fellow employee came rushing down the hall with eyes wide as fried eggs, voice nervously announcing, "They hit the Pentagon too."
I ran into the small conference room, where about 15 people were gathered watching the events on TV. I sat down to see the fire itself for the first time. "How the hell are they going to put that out?" I suddenly wondered. Then they began announcing that the planes were hijacked passenger jets -- you know the rest, you saw it on TV just as I did. I didn't witness the buildings falling first hand. Sometimes I wish I had, what with it being such an important historical event, but I hate the part of me that wishes that. The only difference between me and non-NYC America is that I watched it happen to my hometown - to a pair of buildings I knew well, having worked a temp job on the 104th floor of one of them for two or three weeks before I got my current job.
For those of you who never had a chance to venture inside - and never will - let me describe it for you. What you'd do is come in underground on the subway train. It was the final stop on this particular line. You'd then get out of the train and walk straight ahead into the building (or rather, the big huge area of stores that was under the building). You would then walk and walk and walk past drug stores, banks, retail stores, a food court and finally into a big lobby with a sign-in desk and a couple of huge elevators in the middle. If you needed a building pass, you would go to the front desk and they would call up to get permission (somehow, that tight security didn't stop the hijackers from slamming two planes into the buildings). Then you'd get your pass and step into the elevator, which shot way up a whole bunch of floors. Then you'd have to get out of the elevator, walk to another row of elevators, get on one and shoot way up a bunch more floors. Then you'd have to get out of the elevator AGAIN, walk to yet another row of elevators, zoom up a whole bunch of floors and there you were at my office on the 104th floor. The pressure of the elevators made my ears go stuffy and deaf every single morning, and it would take several minutes before I could pop them and hear clearly again.
For some reason, I was expecting there to be some big offices with great views of the city, but you know how it was just a bunch of really skinny columns with really skinny windows between them? Well, that's what they were. Really skinny windows all the way around the building. But when you looked out through one of those really skinny windows, you suddenly realized exactly how goddamned high in the air you were. Go find an old photo of the NYC skyline and look how much taller the World Trade Center buildings were than every other building in the picture. They were ENORMOUS. During heavy winds, it felt like we were on a boat - we could feel the building swaying back and forth. Also during heavy winds, they would shut off half of the elevators to prevent them from slamming into each other on the way down and up. It never even once occurred to me, "How the hell would I get out of here in an emergency?" Luckily I was only there for a few weeks. I don't even remember the name of the company. I'm pretty sure it wasn't "Cantor Fitzgerald" though, so I assume the company went out of business or moved out at some point. All I remember is that they calculated insurance risks. (When I told this to my wife, she replied, "Maybe they calculated their OWN insurance risk and realized, 'What the hell are we doing up here???'").
So back to September 11th, 2001. The first building fell, I KNEW it had fallen because I could tell it was gone through the smoke. Even after this point, the thought that the other tower would fall never occurred to me ONCE. I just kept saying, "Wow. There's only one tower now. Wow." But the second one of course did fall - while we were holding a crisis meeting in the large conference room. People who lived in the city wrote their names and numbers on the board so people who lived out of the city could have places to stay if stranded in the city. Then my wife somehow called RIGHT when I walked in my office, so we agreed to meet and head home. I should maybe also point out that the building we were in back then was ONE BLOCK from the Empire State Building. And we had no earthly clue how many planes those people had. We didn't even know who they were! So everybody was -- it's a feeling that normal everyday people don't get all that often -- I imagine that soldiers in battle get it, cops in shootouts get it, firefighters get it a lot, I'd bet. It's that feeling like, "Wait a minute. This is REAL. I am honestly in danger of dying right now." I felt it when I was drowning in Belize and I felt it again on Sep. 11th. By the way, I had no clue what the date was. Nobody did. Except maybe my co-worker Mike Hayes (one of the biggest Springsteen fans I've ever met, btw), because it was his BIRTHDAY. And still is. Nothing he can do about that.
So I walked out of the building in confusion - I think it was about 11 by this time. There was no traffic - all the avenues (and probably streets, though I don't remember) were shut off to cars, and the entire city was walking uptown, to their homes in the upper east side, upper west side, Harlem, the Bronx, wherever. Cars parked on the street had their doors open and radios blaring news so others could hear the latest. I met the wife and we (along with everybody else) did everything we could to stay away from landmarks. "Grand Central Station is this way. Well, the U.N. is THAT way!, etc" as we walked. At one point, I noticed that the young woman walking past me was a really skinny anorexic woman that I knew from the dog run. She had just moved to NYC from down south about a month earlier, with her big St. Bernard whose name I can't remember. I said, "Where are you coming from?" and she said, kind of in shock, "Law school downtown. I had to run for my life when the building fell." I never saw her again, nor did a guy I know who went to law school with her. She never returned to school or the dog run. Most likely, she had her parents drive up and take her home in the next few days.
So we walked uptown to Sophie's apartment because Katie had a working TV and we didn't. I left a message on my parents' answering machine telling them I was alright for the time being. We watched the news and then went to a bar, where I realized that I was too sick to drink. I just couldn't tear my eyes off the TV screen. As the replays continued over and over again, a belligerent drunk pointed at the falling tower on the screen and shouted, "LOOK! THOSE ARE PEOPLE! LOOK! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!" until the Irish bartender got in his face and said, 'YOU RESPECT THIS BAR -- OR GET OUTTA HERE!" At some point, he mentioned to us that a guy who guest bartended there a lot was a fireman who, in all likelihood, was dead.
The next day, things got even worse. First of all, nobody honestly believed that it was over. We all kept waiting for the next attack. There were something like 90 fake bomb threats called in every day until finally Giuliani made an example out of one of the guys doing it and sent him to prison for 10 years or something. So there was that. Constant fear. There was also constant depression. There was no way to smile or laugh. There were just too many images everywhere. The papers showing pictures of people jumping from 80 flights up, the black smoke still billowing through downtown - and worst of all, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of "Missing" posters. On every pole, every street corner, every wall, every window. Xeroxed pieces of paper with pictures of smiling young people who looked just like me and my wife. "Missing. Worked on 104th Floor, Tower 2" and variations thereof. Three thousand people were "Missing." But everybody knew exactly what "Missing" meant. There was no "Missing". No point offering a reward.
We listened to the radio coverage constantly, tried going back to work but couldn't concentrate on anything (nobody could), and wondered how on Earth anything would EVER get back to normal. Finally I turned off the radio and started realizing how unbelievably lucky I was that I hadn't lost anyone in the disaster. And that feeling helped me recover.
Reminders still bring it back though. My wife and I went down to Ground Zero right when they started letting people down there, and the wreckage -- part of the building was still UP! It was a just a horrible huge jagged piece of metal where those huge buildings used to be. And there were cards, toys and flowers all over a nearby fence -- cards saying things like, "You were the best son ever. Love, Mommy and Daddy." and "You left early this morning and I didn't get to kiss you goodbye. I will never forgive myself for not waking up to tell you I love you." Too much pain.
And so (here's where I get to the album) this album did it again. It brought it all back again. People have been saying "nine-eleven" so nonstop throughout the past year that it's really easy to forget what actually happened. But things like this CD serve as pretty striking reminders that it was a day responsible for the largest amount of death, pain and grieving that this country has seen since the Civil War.
Lyrically devastating, The Rising is about pain - not anger - but pain. Going through the tracks one by one is like flipping through a book of survivors' words: several men whose wives worked in the building, the woman whose firefighter husband never made it out, the smalltown Jersey fireman who can't figure out why everybody keeps calling him a hero - their words are all here. And some of them are simply too succinct and painful for me to bear (I can only imagine how a true survivor might react to this album). The whole album is sad, but the two songs that I honestly can't make it through without crying are "Empty Sky" and "You're Missing." It's that word again. I'd forgotten all about it. "You're Missing." Nobody was ever "missing." Flip through those old photos of the people above the fire, looking out the windows in confusion. They were never "missing." And "I woke up this morning to an empty sky" nails it. Not just an empty sky, but an empty bed, an empty home, an empty soul.
So how do you start over after you've lost all that ever mattered to you? After you've lost them on national TV, in a manner so brutal that your mind can't stop imagining your beloved's final moments of terror as the building collapsed, tearing and crushing the bodies of 3000 people into unrecognizably tiny fragments? How do you start over when reminders are everywhere - everyday - forever? Bruce doesn't know. He has his characters try different things -- grieving, focusing on recovery, keeping a gun by the bed, "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," "Countin' On A Miracle," even attending a party in a last-ditch attempt to rescue some semblance of life from the ashes. But it's just too much. I still honestly don't know what the rest of the country and world think about this whole 9/11 thing, so I'm not sure if Bruce's latest will resonate with everybody as well as it does with me. But I would definitely say that anyone in NYC, NJ, Philadelphia or DC should pick it up. For the loved ones of 3000 people, it may be too dark a keepsake, but for those of us who miraculously lucked out in every way, it's important. It's important to remember what happened that day. Those were our neighbors in there. I hope that the rest of the country understands that.
Surprisingly (if you ask me), the album is full of great melodies too. Mournful, haunting, rocking when appropriate, uplifting when needed - with that darn E Street Band contributing dobro, violin, piano, saxophone and even some funkyass drum beats here and there. I was honestly a bit iffy about him using the E Street Band on this one instead of doing it solo, but they do a fine job. Understated -- there's no attempt here to recreate the bombast, fever and nostalgia of "Born To Run" and "Glory Days." Instead, they provide more of a Mellencamp-style backing, allowing Bruce's acoustic strumming to float above violin and/or dobro, quiet piano and calm heartbeat drumming, with the louder instruments pumping in during especially emotional moments or songs. He even pulls another "Born in the USA" on us, setting "Mary's Place" to music so darn happy that you have to pay close attention to realize that the narrator is partying not for fun, but to forget. And it's not going to work. When the party's over, she's still "missing."
The main thing keeping me from awarding this a perfect or closer-to-perfect grade is his strange inclusion of a few completely-out-of-place songs (or simple bad ideas). Does it work when Bruce takes on the role of a suicide bomber? Yes it does. Because it's just one example in a song ("Paradise") whose theme is that suicide in ANY situation does not bring paradise - it brings emptiness. Does it work when he takes on the role of a Palestinian civilian in love with an Israeli woman? No it doesn't. Because its simplistic Romeo & Juliet bullshit isn't real - I'd wager that Springsteen has never even BEEN in that region, and is just trying to create a politically correct storybook romance where there is nothing but centuries of hate. Is it appropriate to end the album with "My City Of Ruins," an older R'n'B-style song that is actually about the degraded state of Asbury Park? Sure. It fits the basic theme and it's a nice song about a subject with which he is obviously concerned. But is it appropriate to break up the first and second halves of the CD with "Let's Be Friends (Skin To Skin)," which is not only a complete ripoff of Mellencamp's "Cherry Bomb," but one of the most honestly TERRIBLE love/lust songs he has ever written? No. It really isn't.
That's not much to complain about though, considering it's a 74-minute CD. If you're a Bruce fan, you'll like it for the great songs. If you're a 9/11 survivor, you'll like it for the sympathy, compassion and sensitivity that he brings to the issue. As both, I like it because it's the first E Street Band studio album in nearly two decades to not feature a picture of Bruce's ass on the front.
I read your reviews all the time but have never responded to one until now. I'd just like to say that your review was extremely sensitive and empathetic. Nice job ending it with a joke. The world goes on. Keep up the good work, Prindle.
I think the insurance firm you mentioned might have been Aon. They were on the 100-108 floors of Tower Two, I temped in the mailroom there for a few weeks.
Even after working there, I only had the foggiest notion of what they did. Something to do with working as overinsurers for actual insurance companies and doing risk estimation like you mentioned...
Getting back to the actual album, it's the most realistic tribute to those who are gone yet. While the music and lyrics are at times, well, chintzy and middle aged just like Bruce, as a whole... Well, it's the right album for it's time and place. I guess in the end that's all you need.
Well, certainly better than Nagasaki Nightmare in any case.
Sou fanático por ele desde 1980, ou seja tinha cinco anos, quando ouvi o THE RIVER, fiquei deslumbrado com o som e estilo do Músico, desde então a minha juventude e mesmo depois de casar e ser pai, gosto de imitar o Maior Rocker que alguma vez vi...
(note from Prindle: I took the liberty of translating this reader comment -- here it is in English, vaguely:)
Springsteen is the king of the Rock, after Elvis and the last Rocker, is simply fantastic with an inexhaustible energy, a well of force, an authentic Animal of palco....
I am fanatic for it since 1980, or either had five years, when I heard THE RIVER, I was fascinated with the sound and style of the Musician, since then my same youth and after marrying and to be father, taste to imitate the Rocker Greater that some time vi
Almost every song on this album has its own unique feel, from the quiet reservation of "Nothing Man" to the Middle Eastern sounding "Worlds Apart" to the very danceable "Waitin on A Sunny Day." Among the best songs are the ones already mentioned, along with "Lonesome Day," "Into The Fire," "Countin' On A Miracle" and "Mary's Place." I tend to like Bruce most when he rocks out, and this album certainly has a lot of energy. But the quiet moments are some of Bruce's best, particularly "Nothing Man" and "You're Missing." The lyrics capture the magnitude of Sept. 11 better than any other album I've heard, but don't do it in a way that's corny or embarrassing. The one exception is "Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)" which I always just skip.
Each cut is memorable, and most are tuneful and have a good beat. It's a great album to have on the headphones while exercising. And I have to say, I think it's one of Bruce's all-time best. I've been a Springsteen fan since 1975, and although I'm not familiar with all of his work, I consider myself something of an expert. I believe he's the greatest U.S.-born rocker of all time, and his top five albums, not necessarily in order, are "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle," "Darkness On The Edge Of Town," "Born In The USA," "Born To Run" and "The Rising."
But I'd rate this thing higher. Song-by-song, it gets musically iffy, but as a whole, it's a 9 at least. A brilliant effort for an artist this old 'n gray.
On another issue, though, I'd venture to point out Bruce has NEVER stayed out of politics. Even way back on "Lost in the Flood," he had something to say about real-life issues of the day, however indirectly. Always been a demagogue, intentionally or no. He simply isn't capable of being neutral in that respect. Besides, this album is so lyrically comprehensive in its focus, one could make the argument that it's NOT really a political album. It speaks on so many levels.
Another thing, this one for the reviewer. "Nothing but centuries of hate"? Sure, Bruce might not be an expert on the region, but he's smart enough to point out that there is more than THAT in Israel. There are real people living there, and who's to say that there aren't cross-religional romances going on there? Wherever you go in the world, beneath all the religio- ethnic bullshit, people are people first and Israelis/Palestinians/Shiites/Kurds/Satanists/Purple People Eaters second. Plus the song's arrangement kicks mucho ass.
Not to harp on the issue, but it's like saying "There's nothing in Iraq at all except warring factions. AT ALL. Allallall." What? No actual PEOPLE living there? Trying to live decent, normal lives without fear n' crap? Wow. Weird place, the Middle East.
See, I'm not exactly innocent in this either. I too often make my own assumptions about foreign places before they're warranted. Specifically, assuming that all people there are "not normal" or "indoctrinated in hate" or some crap. It's something we in our comfy Western lives often forget. You mean there're NORMAL people there? Like us? In out of the way places we never see except on FOX when they report about a savage bombing? Who woulda thunk it.
Oh yeah, the album. Sorry about the tangent. It gets better as it goes along. Not muchuva fan of "Into the Fire," "Nothingman" or "Empty Sky", musically, but lyrically, the words are spot-on. The trio of "Mary's Place", "You're Missing" and "The Rising" has got to be the best three-song run on any rock album of 2002. Not to make wild guesses or anything. I actually haven't listened to much music from that year. 'Xcept for Trail of Dead and Wilco. Good bands.
So awesome review, sir. Nice album, this. Most songs are good, some are eh, lyrics a bullseye for anyone in the world. Not just the American States of American America.
Wow. Thank you Mark for the vivid and emotional account of Sept. 11th. I mean it. I live up here in central Canada, so all I got was just the endless news reports in the following days, weeks, months, hell, (it even seemed like) years after....
I remember where i was that day. It was morning and I was just entering the high school i went to when someone from my first morning class said to me (approximately --- it was 4 years ago --- "Someone crashed 2 planes into the World Trade Centre". I was in complete disbelief. I actually thought for a moment this is a very cruel joke my classmate was pulling on me. But then I walked into class, and everyone looked sad and worried and were talking about it, and then i realized it was horribly, horribly real....
Anyway, the second comment is that I never really heard anything from the album except for the title track, which i heard on the radio a few years ago. I wasn't a fan of "the Boss" back then, so I only thought it was "a good song".
3rd and last comment: I think it's ridiculous that some people were / (are?) criticizing Bruce for him criticizing the US gov't and the presidency of George W. Bush. Let the man think what he wants to think, say what he wants to say. It's called freedom of speech, and apparently that was going to the crapper after 9/11, especially having to do with celebrities. (another example: the Dixie Chicks: God knows I hate the Dixie Chicks, can't stand them, but dammit, let them criticize George Bush if they want to!)
It really seemed for a year or two after 9/11 that the US was doing a censorship of the press tactic. (which went hand in hand with Bush's "Either you're with us, or you're not" decree). But luckily that seemed to simmer down after 2004 or so....
Anyway, thanks again, Mark Prindle.
That was my rant for the day.
I have nothing to say about the album at hand – I haven’t been a fan of anything Springsteen’s done since probably “Nebraska,” but if this one is as evocative as you say, it might be worth checking out.
Man, Prindle, you’re good.
I couldn't give a shit when George Bush tells me that it's a tragedy, people will not be forgotten etc etc, any more than when a teacher in school would tell me he understood my problems, but hearing it from a more-or-less normal everyday person's perspective (and, importantly, someone who did not lose anyone close to them, as far as I can tell) makes all the difference in the world.
Even when terrorist attacks happened in the UK, it was in London and it might as well have been on another planet - it's not something I can at all imagine happening near me. But this review did give me a little insight into what it must have been like. It's a little more clear to me now why people are still having nightmares about this.
The wonderful little pieces of humanity you mention amongst what must've been a pretty bleak atmosphere (co-worker's putting their details up on the wall for anyone stranded, people leaving car's open so everyone can hear the latest) are beautiful, and uniquely American. I'm not sure quite what happened in London after our attacks, but I'm sure people here were a lot more selfish in their reactions.
This was a great piece, review included, though to be honest I wasn't reading it for that. Can I ask how you nearly drowned in Belize? Is it mentioned in another review? That's pretty fucked up too Mark. I don't think I've ever been in death's palm long enough to be aware of the fact (thankfully).
On the 11th, I'm walking into the conference center with a co-worker/friend. My wife calls me and starts telling me about the WTC. I brush her off with "I gotta get everything setup because the show is starting" and don't think much about it - she kids me about it to this day. Then after I'm in the conference center, details start coming out. My boss and another co-worker are in the air when it all happened but land okay. A lot of people huddle around the TV. I don't as I can't stand the "repeat the same stuff over and over again" coverage typical during a crisis. To this day, I've maybe seen the WTC-Plane clip twice ever.
There is talk about whether we are in a dangerous place. In the end, everybody decides we are about as safe as we can be - right next door to CNN. The terrorists will want them to keep broadcasting.
But then by mid-day, my boss realizes the conference is going to be a loss. He decides to send half the people home - driving rent cars home even though the rent car company says we can't (in the end, they don't do anything about it). The bad news is that I was supposed to go back with my friend who would be good to talk to, but at the last second, my boss decides to send me back with the other co-worker who is an okay guy but not what I needed. I just want to find a radio station with music and try to relax a little, but instead he insists on listening to talk radio the whole way back *ugh*. In the middle of the night, I get home.
For the next month I was in a mini-depression but got better. I never thought things would recover. Now 10 years later, I find the world is pretty much the same except that air travel is a huge hassle. So if the terrorists goal was to make air travel a pain for everyone, they won. Otherwise, they failed miserably.
However, to this day, I'm completely convinced that if I ever go back to Atlanta, something bad will happen.
I notice Bruce has a much Beatles/Stones-ish sound on this album, and more so than any album he did at this point. Though I admit it is a little too cliched, I really like the title track, "You're Missing", "My City of Ruins", "Nothing Man" and "Lonesome Day", but my favorite is "Further on Up the Road". As you would say, this is a "total fucking comeback".
PS - "Let's Be Friends" from this album is taken from Mariah Carey's song "Dreamlover"(!).
Devils And Dust - Columbia 2005
I'm not saying Bruce can't be good without the E Street Band. Everybody loves Nebraska, Tunnel Of Love isn't too bad, and - although I never, ever listen to it - I gave The Ghost Of Tom Joad a high grade so at some point I must have liked it. But what the nation needs and REQUIRES from Bruce Springsteen RIGHT NOW, MORE THAN EVER, is a fun goodtime new rockin' E Street Band album. Remember big muscley Clarence Clemons with his saxophone? Little Stevie Van Zandt with his bandana? That girl in the "Dancing In The Dark" video with her secret career in hardcore pornography? The E Street Band was more than just "a band"; it was an important American mental institution. And by refusing to deliver that good old rock and roll spirit after sort of HINTING at it VAGUELY with the last album, Bruce Springsteen has officially joined Al-Qaeda. In fact, he OWNS it!
Not only that, but this album isn't very good. A lot of the lyrics are touching and well-written, mainly focused on failure and despair in the heartland of America: the formerly promising boxer who threw a fight for the money and has now been reduced to street fights to pay for food; the child who watches his beloved mother waste away under depression, drugs and a pimp boyfriend; the man who goes to a hooker in a misguided attempt to boinkydo his pain away; the fellow who chose the road over a woman and now regrets it, others. So if you like words, you'll certainly find some good sad ones here. Unfortunately, even more so than usual, it feels like Bruce spent about 45,000 hours on the lyrics and then let his dog write the music.
How many slow, draggy, boring acoustic dick-twigglers does one album need? Does a guy fingerpicking two basic chords back and forth at 1 mile an hour even count as a "song"? Fuckin' Jandek puts more effort into his melodic composition than Bruce put into sleepytime bores like "Reno," "Black Cowboys," "The Hitter," "Matamoros Banks" and "Silver Palamino." Yeah, more like "Peeno," "Black Cowpoop," "The Shitter," "Meta-morose Stanks" and ...
"Shitver Palamino"? That doesn't work.
"Silver Intermino"? "Silver Pathetico"?
"Silver Pal O' Mine (That Eats His Own Shit)"? Yeah! Let's go with that one! Cue it up! Alright, here we go.
(upbeat piano intro)
There was a silver guy I knew one day!
Walkin' all around like a front-page gay!
Then suddenly he committed waste in his hand!
Swallowed it up like a high school band!
Whoaaaaaaa Silver Pal O' Mine!
Whoaaaaaaa A woman thingy doctor's a "Gyne"!
Whoaaaaaaa You ate your own brown!
Whoaaaaaaa The worst song I've heard in fifteen years is "You Don't Bring Me Anything But Down"!
See? Do you see how easy it would have been for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band to have brought us hours of dancing pleasure with their goodtime anthems such as those found on Born In The USA and Darkness On The Edge Of Town? He really fucked up when he didn't call me for my opinion. Or rather, for not calling a second time after he left a message and I didn't return his call.
However, even a cynical old crust mudgeon like Prind must admit that five of these songs are up to Bruce's expected level of easy-on-the-ears enjoyability. I'll name them for you, as a special treat so that you can download them illegally and not waste money on "Maria's Bed," the hands-down WORST set of lyrics and vocals that Bruce has ever written and sung. Why in Hell is he singing so high above his register? Does he not realize how off-key he's singing those horrible words about excitedly looking forward to nutting a prostitute!? I've heard fornicating cats with better lyrics!
While we're on the subject, are my nuts or has Bruce's weirdo made-up accent gotten so strong on this record that you can hardly understand a word he's saying? Check out "Reno" for example. Supposedly it's a lyrically offensive song about nailing (another) whore, but you'd be hard pressed to demonstrate its offenses to a censor. "Are you SURE he's talking about anal sex? It just sounds like 'Tu hun dozz straee tufiffyup thayce' to me. Looks like we've got another 'Louie Louie' on our hands!" Oh, I'm sorry. "Louie Louie" was a hit single in the 1960's that the FBI investigated at length because they thought it included obscene lyrics like "At night and day I lay her again." Can you imagine!? They sure must have longed for the innocent days of '50s rock and roll, like "Good golly, Miss Molly sure likes to ball."
As for those 'good songs' I mentioned earlier, here's a quick list for old-timers and note-shakers:
If you need a cheer in your beer, check out the warm wonderful and honestly MELODIC "All The Way Home," an uptempo full band number whose catchy pop guitar note hook is one of his best since Born In The USA.
If your beer has run out of cheer and you need to refill it with cheer, you can't hardly do no better than crankin' up the adorable, cutesy, poorly sung "All I'm Thinkin' About Is You." It's about love! And you can tell, because it's sung so happily and the music is so chipper! And if you could understand a goddamned word he's saying, you'd hear lines like "I turned my back on you, now it's lonely" and "Ain't nothin' in this world take away these blues"! See? That's LOVE when you treat somebody like shit and then miss them!
Also the dark yet anthemic title track would fit in perfectly on Nebraska, the "Jesus crap" song feels nicely religious with a tambourine and whatnot, and the other good song is that one that you really like a lot. Can't argue with you there!
Enough poor writing. Let's describe the album. Half of it is Bruce and his dull, cold acoustic guitar with old strings going "thub-blub-blub" while some jerk goes "dwee!" with a slide on his guitar way in the background. Most of the others start off as unaccompanied Bruce strumming away on a (much brighter-sounding) acoustic guitar, but slowly build into full-band folky pop rockers with electric guitar, piano, harmonica, organ, drums, background vocals, trumpet, the whole kit nine yards and kaboodle. The best songs envelope your ears in warm, soft, welcoming tones like they're slipping a cotton hoody over your head. The worst feature Bruce saying "Mamm sahz lakka gu heeno" at 4,000,000 decibels while rubbing his broken, wet acoustic guitar up and down inside the fireplace.
If you buy albums for the lyrics, you'd be better off just reading them for free on the Internet, don't you think? Popular music isn't supposed to be "poetry" - it's supposed to ROCK!!!! And not only does Devils And Dust not rock, but Bruce isn't even wearing his trademark face paint anymore! What the hell happened to the "Boss" we grew up with? Remember the "Boss" trading cards with him all spittin' blood and explosions everywhere? And who can forget "Boss" Meets The Phantom Of The Park, where the real "Boss" gets held prisoner and replaced by the evil FAKE "Boss"? Fuckin' prick. He's lucky I'm not digging up my grandfather's corpse and removing it from his '"Boss" Koffin' right now!
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - Columbia 2006
TWO. I slept late today, then went out, then got home and drank.
THREE. It's 11:43 PM, I'm drunk off my buttockisty, and I have to review an album vefore I go to sleep.
FOUR. Spruce Springtime recorded an album of old folk songs he learned from the Bob Seger System songbook, and he got a whole bunch of party-hearty friends on banjo, fiddle, drums, bouncy bass, tuba, accordian, saxophone and trumpet to play them along with them. Some are square dances, others are historical ballads, some are war protest songs, others are negro spirituals, some are folk songs about beloved mules, others are dust bowl ballads written in 1961 by douchebags, some are civil rights rewrites of hymns, others are American pioneers' homesick laments, some are Negro ship protests, and others are 1549 Scottish folk tunes. Put 'em all together and what have you got? That's right! A pre-written album that would have ruled whether Bruce Springsteen bothered showing up for work or not!
It worked for Rob Dylan too, back in the early '90s when he sucked so much gargly cock. Just cover songs that everybody sang in elementary school (in my case, "Pay Me My Money Down" and "Froggy Went A-Courtin'") or songs that are easy as shit to make either fun as balls (fast danceable "Old Dan Tucker," "Jesse James," John Henry") or sad as a crying human being ("Eyes On The Prize," "Shenandoah"). Whatever the deal, they're sure to beat ass out of your last boring shitty album, Bruce Springsteen. Hey look at me I'm a mainstream rock critic "Bruce Springsteen is the savior of rock and roll and everything he does is so good I came all over my beard. I have a beard because I'm a worthless old piece of shit." Fuck you, old people with beards. Your faces look old and stupid, and everybody knows you masturbate.
If you miss New Orleans, a city destroyed by the Bush administration, and you like traditional folk melodies (some don't, because they're all so similar), you'll dig the hole out of Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Come Over Pete Seeger In A Lovemaking Session. It's really, really goddamned good - especially considering that they recorded it all in three days with no rehearsals. That's the sign of a bunch of really fuckin' good musicians. These songs SOUND like they have smart arrangements, but all that's really happening is that Bruce is starting an old folk song with his guitar and then slowly but shirley everybody else is joining in once they figure out how it goes. And it all sounds so godpeckin' good! Those vocal melodies - it's impossible not to sing along with them. Yes, these songs are repetitive, but it's not like the people who wrote them were anything but old hill people singing with their mouths (except the 1961 Dust Bowl song, which was written far too late in history to be as dull and generic as it is. Hadn't this ass-licking woman heard the Ventures by then, the whore?).
There's no murder ballads, so don't think you're getting murder ballads.
Again, if all the songs are already written foryou, it's not that hard to record a really good album -- particularly when you've surrounded yourself with such talented musicians. Basically, Bruce Springsteen should be given credit as a producer, because his presence on these songs has very little to do with them being good. In fact, his stupid high-pitched asshole vocals in a few songs (particularly the first song) and completely impenetrable fake weirdo accent he made up kinda harm the CD more than help. That's not true. It's BRUCE! We love his funny big voice! Without out, this would just be some granola-hugging Birkenstock hippy album by women wearing glasses, but his big goofy voice gives it VERVE, even if it's kinda dumb verve. Also, he picked all the songs and most of them are "greater" than "cheese" (little "cheese grater" humor there for you) One second - I have fifteen soldiers names U., R., I., N., E., P., I., S., S., P., E., E., W., E., and E. in my Skin Tank Of Love, and they want to come out in order to fight Al-Queda and their best friend in the world, Saddam Hussein. Wait right here while I give them their marching orders down Cape Toilet.
I'm home. Here are a couple of ribald parodies:
Three Dog Night/Randy Neman: "Mama told me not to come!....(in her mouth)"
The Guess Who: "Grab your lunchpail, check for mail in your slot/You won't get your check if you don't SUCK SOME COCK - bus riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiider!
Music. Let's talk about it. You know what it is? Entertainment. It goes in the same 'importance' category as movies, TV, sports, art and screwblaling. You come to me with your bullshit "Miles Davis was a genius. Fuck you asshole; his music moves me," and I'll respond with "Yes, he moves me too, but bowels aren't everything." Also, that Bright Eyes guy (Coner Oberst) sings like he lost his left ball in a roller coaster.
As such, let me say this again: Bruce Springsteen has NOT recorded an 8-worthy album here. Rather, a whole bunch of talented improvisational musicians and backup singers have done such a terrific job of presenting raw, fun, rollicking versions of songs written decades and centuries ago, that I can't help but enjoy the living hell out of most of it. "Pay me, oh pay me! Pay me my money down! Pay me or go to jail! Pay me my money down!"
There's also a DVD side, but Bruce is just such a... whatever. I mean, he's standing there arguing the point, "Songs these days are like really polished and designed to be listened to and successful, but these songs were originally.... you know, really raw and.... they meant something! They were something else entirely!" That's great, Bruce. Thanks for nullifying your entire career, dumbass.
It does sound very New Orleansy, which is nice in these post-Katrina days. I never even visited New Orleans before it was all washed away, and I'm very sorry to have missed it. I'm also very sorry about all the poor people who drowned because our president is worthless.
So is Bruce Springsteen actually any good anymore? Here isn't the place to look. And it doesn't even matter, really. He's created enough wonderfully catchy music in his life for us to deal with a bunch of Human Touch nonsense in his golden years. One thing though -- it's astonishingly lame of him to make up the verse "Well, I wish I was Mr. Gates/They'd haul my money down in crates" considering how many billions and billions of dollars he himself has earned over the years. He is a rich, rich, rich, rich, rich, rich man. And here he goes, making money from the sales of a new CD comprised of songs written by poor, poor, poor, poor, poor people throughout the history of folklore and civil rights struggles.
Also there aren't enough fast, dancey songs. They totally blew it with "Froggy Went A-Courtin'," playing it all mellow and shit. Come on, drummer man! Get the lead out! And play a bunch of Led Zeppelin songs!
Not that Led Zeppelin ever ripped off any folk songs. "The Lemon Song," "How Many More Times," "Custard Pie" and "Travelling Riverside Blues" were wonderful songs written entirely by young British men.
Also, while I'm drunk, let me add this: I'm 32. That's not young. So don't freak out about my receding hairline.
I DO create, goddammit. If I were doing nothing but reviewing artists' music, I'd feel pointless. I try to write shit you enjoy on its own merits. Right now I'm too blasted to do so, but you know what I mean. Music is soimethsgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg I dod did when nobody read my web shite. Now they do so I don't record anymore, afraid that if I take time off from the site to record, all my readers will drift away and nobody will like me any more. I have 58 unfinished songs sitting on my 16-track recorder mixer. I hvaen't touched them in like 3 years. because the therel. Bim. Torp. Leff eybb drenss. Prlr dinre wlxnxn rek shot ke !!! Tlkdnre slbidna hreiwls pt ote os. Cifddnslareils dkgdnkws eoslte iCt djrei! Fuck you! Sire sngpdle teirel solg nh sld fd fd fd fd fateo afndsaren adfn ard f AKF derpf dlf eriwoafpd sgkd DFsa fier hadgk lFDSAf iWERHJ
(*enters rehabilitation facility*)
dude, my dog totally just farted! It STNKS! I!
Last week, me, my 6 year old daughter, and my 5 year old son were perusing our local Border's. We all hippity-hopped back to the children's book area, as this album played on the overhead speakers.
My daughter suddenly stopped in mid-skip, brought her finger to her lips, and gave a loud "SHHH!", while cocking her head to one side, listening.
"They're singing "Old Dan Tucker!", she exclaimed triumphantly. I immediately disagreed with her, as I didn't think it possible to hear this song on a Bruce Springsteen album--and was instantly proven wrong as I paused to listen.
"I told you!", she said. And she then joined in a duet with Bruce.
She's been learning "Old Dan Tucker" in 1st grade this year, you see, and...
i've been considering buying this new-fangled springsteen cd for a couple weeks, and i might just go do that now. he's coming to my town in month or so, but he'll only be playing the songs on this cd. weird.
and oh yeah, i still read your site. eight years later, i'm still coming around, getting your input on stuff. keep it going!
Live in Dublin - Columbia 2007
But who needs a two-off? Fuck a two-off. This live album presents the very same "folk Big Band" sound as We Shall Overcome The Pete Seeger Sessions, along with ten of the very same songs! Heck, TWELVE if you count the WSOTPSS bonus tracks! How hard can it be to learn a goddem folk song!? Nevertheless, they only attempt three new covers: a quiet multi-vocalist "When the Saints Go Marching In," spirited gospel/country-western "This Little Light of Mine," and garbage non-Bruce-sung reggae "Love of the Common People," none of which were standards in my elementary school music class! What, no "Tingalayo , Come Little Donkey Come"? No "Senor Don Gato Was a Cat"? No "Standing In Front Of The Record Store"?
They fill up the rest of the double-disc with BUT SERIOUSLY, no "Old House, Tear It Down"!? No "There Was an Old Lady All Skin and Bones"!? No "Grab Your Bicycle, Buddy"!?
For the rest of the running time, the band folk-jazzily rejiggers I MEAN COME ON, no "Don't Count Your Chickens before They Hatch"!?! No "Have You Seen the Ghost of John"!?! No "Thank You Very Much, Thank You Very Much, That's the Nicest Thing that Anyone's Ever Done For Me"!?! What is this, the shittiest album ever recorded, all filled with shit and covered in a layer of shit!?!?
If so, it also includes folk Big Band reworkings of three Nebraska songs, two from Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, and one each from Devils & Dust, The Rising and Lucky Town. A few of these are fine - the straight pop-rock rendering of "Long Time Comin'," light bouncy take on "Growin' Up" and un-fucked-with rendition of "Highway Patrolman" are particular standouts. However, whenever whoever or whatever decided to turn "Blinded by the Light" into a pissy Italian oompah/ska disaster, "Atlantic City" into one-chord garbage blues and "If I Should Fall Behind" into a drab Tennessee waltz, he should've had his face glued to a banana and dunked into a barrel of spider monkeys.
Bruce's gruff lumberjack voice still doesn't work with this material, but his 17-person band sounds absolutely phenomenal. If only the melodies weren't so traditional and repetitive! Didn't the Appalachian backwoods have any decent musicians? Surely Steve Vai's ancestors were laying down some wicked vocal licks at the time.
Magic - Columbia 2007
In the immortal words of Ric Ocasek, "Uh oh, it's Magic!"
But here's my question: The E Street Band performs with Bruce on this album, so why isn't it attributed to "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band"? Theoretically I should have asked this question when The Rising came out, but I was too busy being one New Yorker who says it pains him to say so -- but he's tired of hearing about Sept. 11. He worked on the trade center's 104th floor six years ago, and went down to gaze at the smoking rubble after the attacks. Now, he feels the barrage of news stories and remembrances is making it impossible for the victims' families to overcome their grief. And in the end, Prindle says, all the attention cheapens the very event it is intended to memorialize. "Some people here were worried that they might make a national holiday of it," the 29-year-old says. "It'll just be like Memorial Day, where it's like, 'All right. A long weekend. 9-1-1. Let's go to the beach.'" So that's what happened there, according to the Associated Press article.
Magic is exactly what The Rising would've sounded like had the 9/11 attacks never happened: a tight, guitar-driven rock/pop album with a few ballads and one or two forays into E Street nostalgia. On the one hand, it's definitely nice to hear Bruce Springsteen actually making rock music again (rather than oldtimey folk or acoustic melodrama). But on the other, he hasn't recorded a good straight rock album since Born In The USA, so it's probably not going to surprise anybody to discover only four or five great tunes among this surfeit of humdrum give-or-takes.
Stylistically, Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen is singing in his usual weird voice, Steve "Little Stevie" Van Zandt alternates between dark distorted chords and warmer clean ones, Clarence "Big Man" Clemons wails his sax around in the middle of almost every song, Soozie "Illiterate Parents" Tyrell bows the violin like a John Mellencamp album, and the tag team of Roy "Shittin' Mitten" Bittan & Danny "A Member Of The Mafia" Federici contribute background organ chords and the occasional piano lead. The album actually sounds more like the Human Touch/Lucky Town line-up(s) than the E Street Band proper, but it would be hopeless for these well-to-do older gentlemen to try and recapture the hungry youthful spirit of their '70s output so I suppose it's just as well -- particularly since the most traditionally 'E Street'-sounding song on here ("Livin' In The Future") might as well be called "10th Avenue Freeze-Out II: Even Freezier."
Speaking of "freezier," my heart froze when Dead Milkmen bassist Dave Blood tragically took his own life a few years ago. In an E-mail interview late last year with journalist Mark Prindle, he expressed interest in returning to the country in the near future. "I am now in the process of attempting to secure a situation where I can go back and continue living and working (and learning) there," he said. "It is not so much that I want to get OUT of the U.S. This is certainly a nice place to live, but I am really, really drawn TO Serbia for emotional and intellectual reasons. It is where I need to be to continue my life," according to the Billboard article.
More to the point, do you realize that this is the third new Bruce Springsteen album in THREE YEARS!? The guy's like 40 million years old! Give him "props" for his work ethic!
Then give him "poops" for his Jumbo-Sized Toilet! He put an ad in the paper.
Because Magic finds Mr. Springsteen reaching for the same obvious emotions over and over, the album quickly starts to feel as calculated and geared-towards-radio-success as the recent work of the always-shitty Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, some of these guitar hooks and vocal melodies are so instantly likable that it's easy to forgive how void of innovation they are. First single "Radio Nowhere," for example, has a guitar hook that I almost want to punch myself for liking; it sounds like the fucken Gin Blossoms for Christ's sake! Nevertheless, that dark arpeggiating riff sure would sound good on the radio between all the depressing ClearChannel youth-demographic-targeters. The same goes for "Last To Die," an almost stupidly simple yet effectively anthemic and troubled protest rocker.
Continuing this deep train of thought, "You'll Be Coming Down" is an angel on the ears not because Bruce has come up with a godlike modern lick, but because it kinda sounds like The Byrds. Ditto for "Girls In Their Summer Clothes," which sounds not a whit like Bruce Springsteen but a hella lot like a rare Phil Spector/Righteous Brothers production - perhaps recorded in the jury box, with Bobby Hatfield's corpse propped up on a judge's gavel. In fact, probably the only one of these twelve tracks that honestly makes me think, "Say - interesting chord changes there, Bruce!" is the excellent melancholy rocker "Gypsy Biker." And, as I don't think I have to point out, the song is called "Gypsy Biker." So it's not like anybody's ever going to request it and risk sounding like an Axl Rose fan.
But those are the good songs -- the ones that make your ears perk up with the ingrained love of classic rock. The rest are a bunch of underwhelming 'eh' pop tunes and boring ballads, reaching a nadir with the nauseating hick accent of "Devil's Arcade" and blatant R.E.M. ripoff "Your Own Worst Enemy" (which nullifies a strong Beatlesy verse with an accompanying chorus lifted directly from "At My Most Beautiful"). Also, Freshman Tracie Phillips (Bowling Green, Ky.) accounted for 27 digs while Christina "Mark" Prindle (Florence, Ky.) added 14 more. Next for the Lady Bulldogs is a trip to Tennessee Wesleyan College for another conference contest Thursday at 7 p.m, according to the The Chattanoogan.com article.
In short, Magic is no Smilehouse: The Tragic Remains Of An Abandoned Masterpiece by Mark Prindle, but I guess we can't all defuse the apparent homophobia of a controversial song title by explaining its meaning in a heartfelt mid-song soliloquy -- delivered in a mocking and racist faux-Indian accent.
- on all his studio albums, even if the E Street Band is playing, he's credited just as "Bruce Springsteen"
- on live albums, sometimes the E Street Band gets a credit
I suspect it's something contractual. I know that all 174 members of the E Street Band split the gate at their shows, and maybe it's the same way on live albums.
[note: forgive/revel in such underhanded mudslinging]
But after a few extra listens, I realised that the album had really grown on me, and that I actually liked and enjoyed all of the songs! Every single one! There's something in each song to like, and overall, the album is full of hooky, enjoyable melodies, and quite a lot of fun in places, too. That makes the album a good one in my books. Plus, it's kinda novel to listen to a Springsteen album that mainly focuses on pop songs. He's not half bad at writing 'em, either. Though, you've mentioned that Born in the USA is his poppiest collection of songs and awarded it the highest grade too, and I've yet to properly hear that one. I'm definitely going to have to pick up a copy of it.
Oh, and I totally agree about Living in the Future sounding like a sequel to Tenth Avenue Freezeout: I noticed the resemblance straight away and groaned!
Still, the album certainly isn't a masterpiece: the production is still sorta irritating, and there's probably not a single song that is better than "really good". However, I do consider most of the songs to be "really good", so there you go. It's just a nice, even collection of solid pop/rock songs. Hell, the album is so even, that I can't really name a "best" song. I guess Long Walk Home would be my pick, but Radio Nowhere, Gypsy Biker and Devil's Arcade could also be suitable candidates.
If I was to give the album a rating on the "Prindle-Meter", it'd probably get a low, low 8. I'm not entirely sure if it really deserves an 8: it might be a bit too high for an album that although really solid and enjoyable, doesn't have any amazing standouts and also gives me the impression that maybe Bruce isn't trying as hard as he could be trying. To be honest, a high 7 may be more accurate. But given the ridiculous amount of enjoyment and mileage I've gotten from the album, I can't help but bump it up to an 8. And when I say mileage, I mean it: this album has been getting regular spins in the car stereo on the frequent, lengthy car-trips I make. It's certainly made an excellent road trip CD for me.
Anyway, now to track down a cheap copy of Working on a Dream... and Born in the USA.
Glad you don't like the RHCP either. I remember seeing a thread in one of your message boards called "Bands your friends like but you don't get" and they immediately came to mind. Though I (surprisingly) liked their new album, I have no interest in their catalogue. You're right, it's too radio oriented. "Californication" is one song I really can't fucking stand. I hate that dudes voice, and the music is too repetitive.
Magic Tour Highlights EP - Columbia 2008
Thee, with thy kiss so sweet
I hear the birdies whistle, "Your name! Your name!"
Your hair of that color and figure so homosapien
And your face, unforgettable! (In a way I won't describe here.)
So lovely your eyes, a shade straight from the spectrum
So exotic your roots, either from another country or American
You have a job - oh! But I've said too much!
Forget I said that thing about a job. Maybe you don't have a job.
I'll always cherish that time we, you know.
And how you shared with me your memories of, you know.
Your beautiful [REDACTED]
And also you assassinated John F. Kennedy.
Okay, poem's over. Get back to work, reading this record review.
When I heard that Bruce Springstein was releasing a Highlights album, I was pretty excited because I love "Goofus & Gallant." But little did I know he'd pull a fast one and release a digital download with four songs on it.
- Roger "Jim" McGuinn merging his heavenly voice with the brusque workingman's drawl of Bruce Springstein in a cover of the Byrds' 12-string classic "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
- Tom "RATMan" Morello bringing his boring voice to an otherwise haunting and epic electric version of Bruce Springstein's "The Ghost of Tom Joad"
- The final live performance of Daniel Paul "Danny" Federici, playing accordion on a mellow version of "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" that lacks the rock hard balls of the original studio version. Where are the rock hard balls, Bruce Springstein? Without rock hard balls, you're impotent, according to doctors.
- Alejandro "Brucejandro Springsteinedo" Escovedo joins the E Street Band for a cover of his boring Bruce Springstein ripoff "Always a Friend." I'm told that Escovedo has a long and storied career, but everything I've heard by him sounds like Bruce Springstein and sux grand prix.
In conclusion, Spruce Stringbean better get his gourd on the gigglegoat. I ain't lyin'!
MarkPrindle.com Web Site for Children and Other Fags
Working On A Dream - Columbia 2009
"He was born a little baby on the Appalachian Trail
At six months old he'd done three months in jail
He robbed a bank in his diapers and little bare baby feet
All he said was 'Folks my name is Outlaw Pete'"
"As I lift my groceries
Into my cart
I turn back for a moment and catch a smile
That blows this whole fucking place apart"
"We met down in the valley where the wine of love and destruction flowed
There in that curve of darkness where the flowers of temptation grow"
"I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you I do
You whisper 'Then prove it, then prove it, then prove it to me baby blue.'"
"Well, surprise, surprise, surprise
Yea, surprise, surprise, surprise
Well, surprise, surprise
C'mon open your eyes and let your love shine down
Well, surprise, surprise, surprise
Yea, surprise, surprise, surprise
Well, surprise, surprise"
Yes, it's another dazzling lyrical showcase for "The New Dylan."
If you've heard Spore or whatever his last album was called, you've heard this one. It's just another batch of okay/not great pop-rock songs with a few stylistic surprises thrown in. Some early '60s nostalgia, a bit of blooze-rock, some anthems, a couple ballads, a Tom Petty-ish one, some brooding drama, a bit of Johnny Cash 'boom chicka boom,' an 8-minute epic: all this and more, yet no new melodic ideas.
For a fun game we can all enjoy together as a family, see how many bits of plagiarism you can find on this record. Here are a few to get you started:
- The main vocal theme of "Outlaw Pete" was borrowed from Kiss' "I Was Made For Lovin' You" (I actually didn't notice this until somebody pointed it out, but now I can't take this overblown western drama even a bit seriously!)
- the wordless mid-song vocals of "Good Eye" are ripped off from Boyce/Hart's "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" (as well as "Hungry," which they wrote for Paul Revere & The Raiders)
- the string-scratching intro of "Tomorrow Never Knows" is an 'homage' to CCR's "Looking Out My Back Door"
- the chorus melody of "Life Itself" is awfully similar to REM's "At My Most Beautiful," a song he already plagiarized on his last album (Gypsy or whatever it was called)! Also, although not a direct self-rip, you can indeed sing "Radio Nowhere" to this song's verse chords.
At this point in his career, Bruce just doesn't have the inspiration to write a great straightforward rock album like Born In The USA (or, for that matter, a dark acoustic masterpiece like Nebraska). As evidenced by The Rising and The Seeger Sessions -- the only two of his past five records worth buying -- he needs an overriding concept to wrap his brain around. This allows him to get into a certain mindset and craft an entire sonic and emotional experience for the listener, just as he did with The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle so many years ago. Otherwise, the result is exactly what we have here - a bunch of perfectly listenable pop-rock songs that nevertheless bring nothing new to our lives. Bruce fanatics will be happy because it's new Bruce, but casual listeners will be left wanting. Wanting and craving. With mad lustful desire.
(*sticks dick in Clarence Clemons' saxophone*)
Actually, the real problem might be that this is Bruce's fourth studio album in FIVE YEARS! I doubt that even a strong today's artist as formidable as Lenny Kravitz or Jamiroquai could pull that off with flying colons. Probably Soul Collective or Live could though; those guys are killer, and will have hit after hit for generations to come.
I'm finding unemployment to be much more depressing and psychologically fuckmeupping than the last time it happened, so let's make up some great jokes to get me feeling good again:
How many jobs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Hell, ONE would be great!
Why did the job cross the road?
To run away from talented candidate Mark Prindle
What's black and white and red all over?
A newspaper! (after Mark Prindle read through the 'Help Wanted' ads and slit his wrists)
What do you get when you cross a job with a tangerine?
A delightful citrus fruit that Mark Prindle will never taste again
A job who?
Just kidding! I'm a recruiter, with no available jobs whatsoever
There, now I'm whistlin' Dixie and shittin' a bugle.
By the way, I saw E Street earlier this month. Danny was dead, so they had a chair on stage to represent Danny. Clarence's knees were bad, so they had him propped up on something. Patti wasn't there, 'cause she fell off a horse. Max wasn't there for most of the set, because his son was playing drums. But it was 2 hours and 50 minutes of the greatest rock 'n roll show you'll ever see in your life.
When I finally heard this album, I liked it a lot (and still do), but there were two and a half bitter disappointments on here.
The first one is "Outlaw Pete", which despite being a below average song to begin with, ends up being an eight minute borefest. The only part I like in that song is the line "at eight months old, he did six months in jail" or something like that. Reading your lyric quotes made me hate it even more. The second one is "The Queen of the Supermarket". Why write a sequel to one of your worst songs with a song that's even worse? The half disappointment is that "Tomorrow Never Knows" is a completely different song, but it ended up being a good song anyway. Other than those slip ups, I really liked this album. Sure it adds nothing new to the Bruce legacy, but it's still more enjoyable pop/rock nonetheless. My favorite track here is "What Love Can Do", but I really like "Surprise, Surprise" (as formulaic as it is).
(This isn't part of the review but) This seems to be it for Bruce. I remember you posted on Facebook something bad about his new album. I really didn't like it (I'll give it a 3), and I would have loved to see you rip on it on your site. David Fricke gave it 5 stars too.
The Promise - Columbia 2010
Presumably Bruce chose the track listing for Darkness based on thematic issues, because there are some fantastic songs on here that would've helped that record seem much less slow and samey. Unfortunately, a goodly number of slow and samey songs appear here as well. More than a third of the 21 songs would be classified as ballads, and several others are stranded in NostalgiaLand, overflowing with piano, horns and overused '60s soul melodies. But on the up side, three of the first seven songs have the heard "Street" in the title!
Of key interest are the beautiful early version of "Racing in the Street," Bruce's original recordings of the Pointer Sisters' "Fire" and Patti Smith's "Because The Night," and the stunning title track, a sequel to "Thunder Road" concerning the pitfalls that come with fame. Other melodic stunners include the Buddy Holly/Bobby Fuller throwback "Outside Looking In," mood shifting pop rocker "Wrong Side of the Street," peppy '60s soul "Talk To Me," and a pair of warm, pretty and concise songs uninterestingly titled "Save My Love" and "Come On Let's Go Tonight" (the latter of which was rewritten for Darkness I'm pretty sure) (but am not going to bother checking). Had Springsteen released these nine killer songs in 1978 as a 36-minute LP, it would've thrown the planet off its axis and killed everybody. So thank God he hid them behind the toilet for 32 years.
Regrettably, as stated earlier in this tone poem, the rest of the collection is a mish-mash of moshless mush mostly consisting of uneventful ballads, standard blue-eyed soul, and early '60s nostalgia. As such, let's make up some Bruce Springsteen jokes.
What did Bruce Springsteen do after working hard in the hot sun all day
Wake up in his bed, relieved to find it had all been a nightmare.
What's the difference between Bruce Springsteen and a dog?
A dog has a legitimate reason for wearing a blue collar.
How many members of the E Street Band does it take to change a light
Only one, but he changes it into a terrible song.
Why did Bruce Springsteen cross the road?
He was hoping a terrorist would run him over so he could write another hit album.
Other Bruce Springsteen Sites
Springsteen is ready for you to purchase him. Please click here and purchase him.
Jeroen's Bruce Springsteen Page