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New Bruce Springsteen disc, due out 11 Nov.


EKE BBB
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Yes, immediate reaction is "WTF! A Bruce Springsteen album with covers of 15 soul classics?".

Well, Bruce is so close to my heart -he was one of my idols in my teens- that, from my perspective, he is entitled to do whatever he feels like.

FWIW, here's an excerpt from an email exchange with a good friend from seven years ago, where we briefly expressed our impressions after revisiting his discography up to that date.

 

My comments:

* Extracting positive feelings and enjoying more than ever his first two discs (Greetings from... and The Wild, the Innocent...), which are not too easy to digest and clearly non-commercial, except for a few classics, mainly Rosalita.
 
* His best LP ever is, IMHO, Born to Run, as the more direct and colourful. In my Top-10 Rock Albums list, for sure. And I hereby declare that Thunder Road is his best song ever.
 
* Darkness, The River and Born in the USA are also classics, full of straight-forward hits. High quality paired with commercial success.
 
* Nebraska is a masterwork. Unplugged, but full varied and impacting songs all over the album.
 
* The level began to drop with Tunnel of Love, though I really appreciate and enjoy some of its tracks.
 
* And it definitely shrank with Human Touch and Lucky Town, which are linear, full of mid-tempo bland tracks.
 
* The Ghost of Tom Joad is a brave attempt to get back to the Nebraska times... but the quality of the songs is not the same. Maybe digging hard you can avoid yawnin' after 20 minutes, but...
 
* And finally, The Rising is standard commercial pop-rock for FM radios.
 
His comments:
 
Yes, 'Greetings ...' is very wordy and Dylanesque. When I first got into Springsteen  (mid-'70s) he was playing a fair number of these songs live and they featured on all the bootleg cassettes of live concerts going around at the time and which Springsteen himself encouraged - 'Blinded by the Light', 'Growin' Up' ....
 
'The Wild, the Innocent ...' is one of my favourite albums, a wonderful mixture of styles. Springsteen was clearly coming into his own - 'Sandy', 'Rosalita' ... He had a pianist in the band at the time called Davis Sancious who was clearly jazz orientated. 
 
'Born to Run' is a true classic although I prefer the live versions of most of the songs (the 3 CD 'Live 1975-85' - I think it was originally 4 LPs which I assume are still in the attic of my old house in Belfast) to the Spectorish production of the album. Yes, 'Thunder Road' is possibly my favourite Springsteen track too (a great version opens the Live album). And, of course, 'Backstreets' and 'Jungleland' ... The imagery of the lyrics is great. I was in the US the summer the album came out (as a tennis coach!) and we played it endlessly.  
 
'Darkness ...' is my favourite Springsteen album. The best and most powerful series of songs he ever wrote both musically and lyrically. 'Badlands', 'Promised Land', 'Candy's Room', 'Factory', 'Prove it all Night' ... For me the production of the album is perfect although apparently Springsteen doesn't like it. The lyrics are the best he's written about alienated working-class life in the US. Again I was in the US when it came out.
 
'The River' is good but nowhere near 'Darkness ...' I love the song 'Drive all Night'.
 
'Born in the USA' is when it started to go downhill and he became just too big. Some great songs but ...
 
I agree about 'Nebraska' - a wonderfully bleak album. Again the lyrics. It's been described as his Marxist album!
 
'Tunnel of Love' is enjoyable and I saw him give a great concert in Dublin promoting the album.
 
'Human Touch' and 'Lucky Town' are pretty forgettable. In fact, I've just looked and I don't even have them.
 
I agree entirely with what you say about 'The Ghost ...'
 
'The Rising' was his last decent album. Some of it was a reaction to 9/11 and there are some okay songs but nothing special. It was then that he brought in Brendan O'Brien to produce and everything goes bombastic.
 
Since then he's done very little apart from play live, although 'Devils and Dust', another largely acoustic album, is okay. He's brought out some albums of outtakes, etc. - the 3 CD 'Tracks' and the 2 CD 'The Promise' which include some good songs. His double live album 'Hammersmith Odeon '75' is excellent. His studio albums, all with Brendan O'Brien I think, have been unlistenable. 
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Studio albumwise, "Darkness on the Edge of Town' is my favorite Springsteen album.   Everything up to "The River" is wonderful in my book.  And very little since then does all that much for me.  "Letter To You" is my favorite from the last 40 years, with "Lucky Town" coming in second.  Other albums have a cut or two (love "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"), but don't hold up overall for me, and I don't like the production style introduced with "Born in the USA".    My absolute favorite is the Live In New York City, with Live 1975-1985 also wonderful.  And a lot of the authorized live bootlegs ca. 1978-1980 are stunning.  

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Huge fan over the past 40 years, but zero interest in this.

I have a fondness for the “best of” Human Touch and Lucky Town.  For me, much more  enjoyable than Born in the USA, which I think is pretty weak.  Magic is pretty good and the aforementioned Girls In Their Summer Clothes is a favorite for me too.

 

Edit: I do not get Western Stars at all either.  It is sacred at the other board, but then ...

Edited by Eric
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"Only The Strong Survive"...Jerry Butler, The Ice Man, Thom Bell arrangement, Gamble/Huff production...nohing in that mix sceams Springsteen Cover, if you know what I mean.

I can see some of these working. Others...not so much.

1. "Only the Strong Survive"  
2. "Soul Days" (featuring Sam Moore) Jonnie Barnett  
3. "Nightshift"  
4. "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" Frank Wilson 2:27
5. "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"  
6. "Turn Back the Hands of Time"
  • Jack Daniels
  • Bonnie Thompson
 
7. "When She Was My Girl"
 
8. "Hey, Western Union Man"
  • Butler
  • Gamble
  • Huff
 
9. "I Wish It Would Rain"  
10. "Don't Play That Song"
 
11. "Any Other Way" William Bell  
12. "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" (featuring Sam Moore)  
13. "7 Rooms of Gloom" Holland–Dozier–Holland  
14. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"  
15. "Someday We'll Be Together"

 

A thought...might we be in the process of creating a new Great American Songbook v2?

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Nothing but respect for Bruce Springsteen — but I think the only full-length songs of his I’ve ever heard (except back in high school on the radio, mid 80’s)… …is when I’ve happened to catch him on the late night talk shows.

We’ve been DVR’ing Seth ❤️ (incl. the last 15 minutes of Fallon), and sometimes Colbert — for a decade.  And we usually watch the musical guests (but barely half the regular guests).

Springsteen just isn’t in my wheelhouse (neither is Dylan, though I do like Oh Mercy).

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Bruce has lots of credit in the bank with me for everything up to 'Tunnel Of Love' and then the two most recent albums but not much between.

Ignoring his stage demeanour, always wooden at the best of times, I think he makes a fair fist of this, a Northern Soul classic over here 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Streaming for the third time, and liking more than most of you.  Not under the impression that Bruce eclipsed any orginals, but it hangs together and provides a picture of where the artist's head and heart are at.  Well and lovingly produced, and reflective of an artist that has ambitions outside the realm of rock anthems where he made his reputation.  Thus an extension of Western Stars approached from a totally different angle.  I had seen that someone asked him "If you had to listen to only one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?"  His surprising answer after ducking the question a bit was Frank Sinatra - The Summer Wind.  He's finding areas as a vocalist that weren't part of his earlier career.  If he doesn't ever make another album of rock songs in the E Street vein, well, he doesn't have to.  If he does, I expect it to be good because he will have made the choice to do so.

Greetings from Asbury Park, The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle and Born To Run were so much a part of my coming of age, that they remain a part of me to this day.  When I went to college I dove into jazz to be a part of the college radio station, and didn't have time or funds to get that close to Bruce albums, so it was a long time before I got familiar with Darkness and The River,  Born in the USA drew me back into Bruce and I really don't find any duds among subsequent albums.  The Ghost of Tom Joad and Devils and Dust didn't kick in as quickly, but subsequent reinterpretations of those songs on On Broadway and the stunning Tom Morello assisted versions of The Ghost of Tom Joad revealed the strength of songs that I didn't get to know well at the time.   I had the Sirius XM Bruce channel on my radio most trips to work for a couple years before the pandemic, leading to better appreciation of Tracks and Bruce's later work.  Land of Hope and Dreams, Living Proof, Gypsy Biker and Long Walk Home are particular favorites, and the Wrecking Ball album had been a second reentry into the world of Bruce just before that.  And, yeah, the album The Rising is the highlight of the post Tunnel of Love period.

Edited by randyhersom
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5 hours ago, randyhersom said:

Streaming for the third time, and liking more than most of you.  Not under the impression that Bruce eclipsed any orginals, but it hangs together and provides a picture of where the artist's head and heart are at.  Well and lovingly produced, and reflective of an artist that has ambitions outside the realm of rock anthems where he made his reputation.  Thus an extension of Western Stars approached from a totally different angle.  I had seen that someone asked him "If you had to listen to only one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?"  His surprising answer after ducking the question a bit was Frank Sinatra - The Summer Wind.  He's finding areas as a vocalist that weren't part of his earlier career.  If he doesn't ever make another album of rock songs in the E Street vein, well, he doesn't have to.  If he does, I expect it to be good because he will have made the choice to do so.

Greetings from Asbury Park, The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle and Born To Run were so much a part of my coming of age, that they remain a part of me to this day.  When I went to college I dove into jazz to be a part of the college radio station, and didn't have time or funds to get that close to Bruce albums, so it was a long time before I got familiar with Darkness and The River,  Born in the USA drew me back into Bruce and I really don't find any duds among subsequent albums.  The Ghost of Tom Joad and Devils and Dust didn't kick in as quickly, but subsequent reinterpretations of those songs on On Broadway and the stunning Tom Morello assisted versions of The Ghost of Tom Joad revealed the strength of songs that I didn't get to know well at the time.   I had the Sirius XM Bruce channel on my radio most trips to work for a couple years before the pandemic, leading to better appreciation of Tracks and Bruce's later work.  Land of Hope and Dreams, Living Proof, Gypsy Biker and Long Walk Home are particular favorites, and the Wrecking Ball album had been a second reentry into the world of Bruce just before that.  And, yeah, the album The Rising is the highlight of the post Tunnel of Love period.

Many thanks for your insights on Bruce Springsteen's career, and particularly on his recently released disc.

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