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  1. #11


    Released: 1973
    Producer: Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos
    Label: Columbia

    Springsteen organized the still unnamed band for this foray more into classic rock n roll as opposed to the more folk influenced Greetings From Asbury Park. This is a trip towards nostalgia in many ways as Springsteen seems to be looking fondly back on his formative years. Itís not a lament in the sense that he wants to relive the past, rather that he recalls some happy times and confidently says itís time to move on.

    Like Greetings From Asbury Park, the album didnít do very well commercially and Springsteen wouldnít release an album for another two years. Critically though, it was a success, though I recall not liking this album as much as the first one. Anyway, time for another spin.

    Best Tracks: The E- Street Shuffle, Incident on 57th Street, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

    Weakest Tracks: Kittyís Back (sort of)

    The E Street Shuffle: A quick intro of some brass, and it gets into a groove that is reminiscent of some nostalgic music and yet still sounding very 1973. Genius. com says that Springsteen was influenced by Major Lanceís Monkey Time and I can hear where he may have gotten that from. It certainly sounds like something that could have come out in 1963 with a different arrangement. A good start to the album. It gets a bit funky at the end and that doesnít seem to hurt.

    Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy): A sweet ballad essentially. Sandy sounds like an old girlfriend. This was a romance that wasnít going to last forever when you listen to the lyrics, but it sounds like a sweet reminiscence of a period that is no more.

    Kittyís Back: Kitty is apparently the girlfriend of an old mateís who leaves for Ďa pretty boy on Bleecker Streetí according to Does Kitty come back to her old lover? Sounds kind of like a soap opera ,doesnít it? Starts off a bit dramatic and gets into the brass dominated jazzy style that is prevalent on this album. I donít think this as strong as the first two tracks, but it definitely is exploratory in terms of musical styles.

    Wild Billyís Circus Story: Tom Waits calls this his favorite Springsteen song. I can hear why as it opens up with an accordion, an instrument Waits would use a lot. Itís essentially a folk tune about escaping to the circus. A nice song and some good lyrics, as many of Springsteenís songs have.

    Incident on 57th Street: The first thing I thought of when I first saw the lyrics was that maybe Springsteen was watching a little too much West Side Story. Itís essentially involves a romance in the nefarious gang atmosphere of New York City. In some ways this is a prequel to Jungleland. It weaves a fantastic tale and itís one of those songs you have to listen to closely in order to catch the lyrics. Powerful song in its own way.

    Rosalita (Come Out Tonight): Probably the best known track on this album, this was the song Springsteen used to use to end his concert sets. Like Incident on 57th Street to some extent, this is a song about forbidden love. Instead of dealing with rival gangs though, the protagonist has to deal with Rosalitaís over protective father. This comes off as a typical love song, yet the lyrics, and a great arrangement, make for something way beyond Ďwill you love me tomorrowí. This later would become popular on AOR radio.

    New York City Serenade: The album ends with another ode to New York City romance. In some ways this, like other tracks, is a love fest directed towards New York City. Strange, because Springsteen always struck me as more of a Philadelphia guy, but what do I know? . This track is poignant because this is the last time weíll hear David Sancious on piano as he will be leaving the band shortly thereafter (more on that in the next chapter). Vini Lopez will be leaving too but thatís also for the next chapter. This is a bit of a ballad with the usual introspective lyrics. I really like the acoustic guitar and the string accompaniment on this one. A sweet way to end this album.

    OVERALL EFFECT: Itís funny how opinions change once you give an album a new thorough go over. Yes, I still hold that Greetings From Asbury Park is better, but not by as much as I had originally thought. One thing for certain, Springsteen has clearly grown as a musician on this effort and you sense that the next album, which will be his breakthrough moment, will come off as a disappointment for true Springsteen lovers, but maybe not. Weíll see.


    The Word has Spoken

    So weíll have to wait for another two years until the next, very important, album. There will be a conscious attempt to make it more commercial and it will certainly work from that standpoint. But what will the critics think? More importantly, what will Musty, and you, think? Stay tuned to find out.
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    ​List your top ten songs before December 15. The WF 100 will be posted December 31. Hidden Content

    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

  2. #12
    Never liked him. I think without the USA song he wouldn't be known outside USA. Always reminded me of a regular pub go'er who discovered the karaoke machine. Didn't sound much better either.......bitchy.

  3. #13


    Released: 1975
    Producer: Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel, and Jon Landau
    Label: Columbia

    1974 was a bit of a transitional year for the E Street Band. Two not so successful albums seemed to put Springsteen on the sidelines, recording wise, though the live shows continued. During this year a tumultuous confrontation between Vini Lopez and manager Mike Appel led to Lopez being asked to leave the group. David Sancious would also leave under more amicable terms to form his own band, Tone. In their place would be the return of Steven Van Zandt and a new drummer named Max Weinburg, who would later become famous as the leader of Conan OíBrienís stage band. Also Roy Bittan would be added as the new pianist.

    Recording began on Born To Run in May 1974 and there was a conscious effort to make this more commercial for the masses. This was do or die for Springsteen. If this album had failed, the legend that was Bruce Springsteen may have died with this album. The album would take over a year to record as it would be bogged down with Ďwall of soundí elements. Jon Landau (yes, of Rolling Stone) was also brought in to help co-produce. He would be a major factor in some legal turmoil as he would be ultimately replacing Appel as manager as well which would prevent Springsteen from recording another album until 1978.

    This was indeed Springsteenís breakthrough moment and it had the music mogulsí tongues wagging. Both Time and Newsweek had a still unknown Springsteen on the cover with Time touting him as Rockís New Sensation. As it turned out, Born To Run, the hit single wouldnít even make the ten and the album would only peak at number three, not bad, but certainly not the biggest phenomenon since the Beatles as the hype seemed to be saying.

    Still, Springsteen had his first truly successful effort and would have been in the studio again rather quickly if not for a lawsuit launched by now former manager Appel. The critics also raved about the album.

    And with that, here are my thoughts.

    Best Tracks: Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Born To Run, Jungleland

    Weakest Tracks: Sheís the One

    Thunder Road: I think itís safe to say that this album will be full of small rock operettas. There is a new pianist here as Sancious had left by now. Itís vintage E-Street band as this track is similar to something that would influence Jim Steinman on Meat Loafís Bat Out of Hell album. Springsteen himself referred to this as an invitation to fun and it certainly shows in one of his most classic tracks.

    Tenth Avenue Freeze Out: This is said to be about how the E-Street band was mythically formed. Springsteen says he has no idea what this song means but itís something important. Despite that cryptic description, this is one of my all time favorite Springsteen songs and probably my favorite on the album. It has one of the typically great E-Street band arrangements and Clemons is especially on fire with the sax.

    Night: This track is your typical letís go out and have fun after a hard day at work songs, with the Springsteen vibe of course. Not was well known as the first two tracks and I can see why. Itís a good song but it doesnít seem to have the same power as the first two tracks did.

    Backstreets: This is about a friendship now past though whether it is of a platonic nature, itís hard to say. Like Night, this is a good song but doesnít wow me like Thunder Road or Freeze Out.

    Born To Run: I think everyone knows this tune. This was the song Springsteen worked on as his make or break effort. If this song had failed, Springsteen would have been back to the bar circuit. So they pulled all the stops with the Wall of Sound effects and everything. The result was a medium sized hit despite all the hype but, with the more successful album as a whole, it was enough to save Springsteenís career.

    And it is undeniably a great song. I remember hearing this for the first time while cruising with some friends and it indeed sounded so fresh. It was unlike anything I had heard before and in 1975, that was saying a lot. It convinced me that all the Time and Newsweek hype that was going on at the time was all worth it.

    Sheís the One: This one has a bit of a Dylan influence. Actually, the lyrics kind of confuse me and the song is not one of the better ones on the album in my opinion. I hear the Bo Diddley rhythm as mentioned on and Clemons saves the song a bit with the sax but itís not enough for me.

    Meeting Across the River: This is a story that Springsteen came up with about a heist I believe. Springsteen was and is good at coming up with stories and one has to think he may have made it as a writer had he not made it as a musician. This is the slowest song on the album and I like the jazzy mood of this piece.

    Jungleland: This is something of a rock epic as it clocks in at over nine minutes. This is another favorite of mine. Itís a tale of a typical night for a young man while hanging out on the streets in New Jersey. Itís certainly an affectionate take on life on the streets even with a bit of a Romeo and Juliet style tragedy tacked on at the end. This is still one of Springsteenís great rock anthems that probably says more in under ten minutes than The Who could in their two double album set rock operas. And the Who said a lot. Maybe one of the great endings to an album ever.

    OVERALL EFFECT: So I guess the question for me is do I give this four and a half stars or go the whole five. I mean there are a couple weak moments in this admittedly classic album. So I look at the album as a whole and I compare it to how I reviewed Sgt. Pepper, an album I not only had no hesitation giving the five star treatment,itís my favorite all time album period. And yet, even that album has at least one bonafide stinker, something this album lacks. The weakest moments here are missed opportunities, not something Iíd want to puke to.

    So figure that in and knowing that at least four of these tracks are, unarguably, some of the greatest music in rock history, Iíll have to give itÖ


    The Word has Spoken

    So, Springsteen had made it and the future seemed to look bright. Except there was one problem. Mike Appel had been a bit of a control freak and he had a lot to do with Vin Lopezí departure. Springsteen would dump Appel for Jon Landau as his manager and a lot of legal wrangling would ensue. Springsteen wouldnít release another album for three years and soon, he would seem like yesterdayís news. A shining light that was shot down by circumstances, not an uncommon story in rock.

    But we now know that Springsteen would make a very triumphant comeback. It wouldnít be his first one, but it would be his biggest. So stay tuned for the next installment to see if he still has what it takes in 1978.
    It's here! Hidden Content

    ​List your top ten songs before December 15. The WF 100 will be posted December 31. Hidden Content

    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

  4. #14


    Released: 1978
    Producer: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, and Steven Van Zandt
    Label: Columbia

    To say this album was a long time coming is an understatement. When Bruce Springsteen befriended Rolling Stone music critic Jon Landau, it began an irreparable rift between Springsteen and manager Mike Appel. Springsteen subsequently would replace Appel as manager/producer with Landau and the lawsuits began to fly. Appel wanted financial control of all of Springsteenís assets while Springsteen wanted his musical freedom. In the end, Appel got a large percentage of Springsteenís profits from his first three albums as well as a settlement from CBS records and Springsteenís camp. Springsteen, however, paid a big price as he was not allowed in the studio for a year as a result of a court injunction filed by Appel. It showed the financial vulnerabilities of a young musician and how easy it is to be taken advantage of. Luckily, Springsteen had the advice of counsel that Landau set him up with, and things would work out in the end. Springsteen and his E-Street Band entered the studio in June 1977 and would work on Darkness On the Edge of Town for nine months. Springsteen wrote upwards of seventy songs during the recording of this album including Because the Night which became Patti Smithís biggest (only?) hit, and Fire which became a big hit for the Pointer Sisters.

    But only ten songs make the final cut as Springsteen wanted it to be thematic, side one being a positive side and side two being a bit more negative. The critics would praise the album using the term maturity often. This album is said not to be as commercial as Born To Run and there is some truth to that as itís certainly a darker album overall.

    But Iím getting ahead of myself. Letís see what we have.

    Best Tracks: Adam Raised a Cain, The Promised Land, Prove It All Night

    Weakest Tracks: Factory

    Badlands: The album opens with one of Springsteenís best known songs. He claims to have been influenced by the Animals on this one borrowing the rift on Donít Let Me Be Misunderstood in this case. The lyrics are classic Springsteen as it weaves a story of a guy with hard luck trying to get through it all. It has the classic signature E-Street sound as well. A part of me wonders if this has anything to do with the mess with Appel, but I guess weíll never know.

    Adam Raised a Cain: A friend of mine mentioned that she read Springsteenís unauthorized biography which indicated he had a complicated relation with his father. Perhaps Springsteen is seeing himself as the Cain in this case. One thing for sure, this song is heartfelt and the arrangement of searing guitars add to the mix. I really like this track.

    Something in the Night: Obviously one of the lesser known songs on the album, but I do have to say Iím agreeing with the critics in terms of the maturity. While not one of my favorite songs on the album, you can definitely hear how Springsteen has grown musically with this track.

    Candyís Room: This one seems to have the ďexpertsí at Genius. com in a quandary. They donít know whether this is about a prostitute or some young boyís sexual fantasy. This track has all the E-Street band elements as if Springsteen is telling a story. One thing for sure, Springsteen didnít lose anything as a lyricist during his Appel imposed hiatus. Nice lead guitar on this.

    Racing in the Street: Here Springsteen is singing of the yearning to escape from adult like responsibilities. There was apparently some drag racing going on near Springsteenís childhood home in Asbury Park. In any event, this is a heartfelt ballad dominated by Bittanís piano

    The Promised Land: This track was a result of a trip to Utah with Steven Van Zandt in the days after Elvis Presleyís death. Indeed, the title may have come from one of Elvis Presleyís last hits. This is a great arrangement with Clemonsí sax solo and the harmonica adding to yet another heartfelt song thatís good enough to make my favorites list.

    Factory: Okay, so somebody is claiming on that this is about Springsteenís father losing his soul at the factory. The only problem with that is Wiki says his father was a bus driver. I guess that can be soulless too. Anyway, itís not one of the more memorable songs on the album.

    Streets of Fire: Dave Marsh would rave about this track as it helped to fulfill all the hype that had surrounded Springsteen three years before. I like the haunting organ and the dark arrangement in general.

    Prove It All Night: This might be my favorite track on the album. In some ways this is about young love. Wiki says this is about a girl having to give up her virtue to prove her love for a guy (what a creep!). Anyhow, this is your typical E-Street romp with all the classic settings that an actually bad movie band like Eddie and the Crusiers would rip off and claim they were ahead of the curve in 1964. Yeah, right. Anyway, this is proof that the original is always better than the cheap imitators.

    Darkness on the Edge of Town: The last song and the title track is the third that mentions street racing. Street racing was obviously part of the theme on this album. Of course, as with most Springsteen songs, itís a bit more complicated than that as it talks about alienation and the desire to get out of the darkness on the edge of town so to speak. Itís a slow paced song, one of the better known Springsteen tracks. A solid way to end this epic.

    OVERALL EFFECT: I sense a moodiness to this album that I didnít hear on the first three albums. Iím sure a lot of it had to do with the legal entanglements that Springsteen just got out of, but he may have also had extra time to reflect on his youth given the depressing nature of tracks like Adam Raised a Cain and Darkness. Overall, I donít like the album quite as much as Born To Run, and Iíd rate it third out his four albums at this point, meaning I, nevertheless, like this a lot. Just canít give it the five flower special though.


    The Word has Spoken
    It's here! Hidden Content

    ​List your top ten songs before December 15. The WF 100 will be posted December 31. Hidden Content

    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

  5. #15


    Released: 1980
    Producer: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, and Steven Van Zandt
    Label: Columbia

    There were a lot of things going on in the late seventies into 1980 and it would influence the direction Springsteen was about to take. The brand new star aura was now gone for one thing. The legal entanglements were now behind him but now there was a feeling of Ďhow can he top Born To Run and Darkness?í Add to that, the US was in an economic recession that would affect Springsteen indirectly by way of his sister. She was married to a guy who lost his job in construction and was struggling to make ends meet. This, among other things, influenced Springsteen to write songs of a more personal nature. He wasnít writing about hanging out in the parking lot anymore. Now he was writing about things that affected the average person. And the end result would be The River, released late in 1980.

    The double album set was meant to be released as a single album that would have been called The Ties That Bind. It didnít seem enough for Springsteen, thus, we have the two album set.

    I might mention that there is some personal importance to me surrounding both this album and of Springsteen himself. For starters, the first single, Hungry Heart, opens up with ďGot a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack.Ē Well, Iím from Baltimore so of course I listened, not caring that itís about a lone wolf that left his family.

    Then there is the fact that this album was getting a lot of airplay in late 1980 when John Lennon was murdered. So The River is an album that I connect to the period. There is also the irony that Springsteen would play a tribute to Lennon the following night in Philadelphia. He wasnít the only artist to do this of course but it seemed symbolic that Springsteen would be doing an already scheduled concert near his own home base in New Jersey at that same time.

    Anyway, letís review the album, shall we?

    Best Tracks: The Ties That Bind, Hungry Heart, Out in the Street, The River

    Weakest Tracks: Crush On You, You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

    The Ties That Bind: The album opens with what was supposed to be the title track to a single album meant for release in 1979. Instead itís here and it starts the theme of this double album set with an upbeat tempo. Iím not sure this is more about a breakup or something a bit deeper, but itís nonethleless a great start to the album.

    Sherry Darling: This had been left off Darkness On the Edge of Town. Not surprisingly, this is more about life in New York City. It certainly sounds like New York given the blunt lyrics which is one of the things I love most about New York. There is a brutal honesty you donít hear anywhere else. No oneís afraid to hurt any feelings, thatís for sure. Another upbeat tune.

    Jackson Cage: Itís perhaps here where you start getting into the theme of the album. This one addresses the employment conditions, or lack thereof, that was prevalent in the US in 1980. Springsteen looks at Jackson Cage as something akin to a life sentence. Itís sad, may even a little desperate. Canít argue about the quality of the song though. Springsteenís three for three so far.

    Two Hearts: This is probably more of a love song of sorts. Maybe not one of Springsteenís better efforts. The lyrics arenít bad and I do like the two hearts are better than one line, but, overall, it comes off as pretty average by Springsteen standards.

    Independence Day: This could be one of Springsteenís songs that emphasizes his personal relationship with his father. One thing Iíve learned after researching Springsteen was that he had something of a complicated relationship with his Dad. And you can feel the pain in this melancholy track.

    Hungry Heart: Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. Still canít get over that line, even if it was essentially a song about a drifter. This was the big hit off the album and, like I mentioned earlier, is kind of an important song to me for reasons unrelated to the song itself. You can certainly hear the commercial appeal of this track.

    Out in the Street: This is basically a slice of life in a working manís surroundings. It has some of the Springsteen trappings as he tells his girl to get ready for a night on the town. Itís a happy song. A positive song in the wake of economic turmoil. Perhaps this was a guy that survived the economic downturn, and a lot of people thankfully did. I like this song.

    Crush On You: Not really the most lyrically rich of Springsteenís songs, Iím not sure if Iíd exactly call this a filler track (Did Springsteen consider anything filler?). I do like Clemonsí solo, but this doesnít seem to fit in with the theme of the album overall.

    You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch): Interesting article on Springsteenís songs There is supposed to be a rockabilly version of this somewhere. Like Crush On You, though, I canít say I can get into this obvious rocker.

    I Wanna Marry You: Again from Vulture (why didnít I discover this article earlier?), this is a slower ballad by Springsteen standards and yeah, I can definitely hear the Roy Orbison vibe here. And since I happen to be an Orbison fanÖ thumbs up.

    The River: The title track to the album and probably my favorite. This one is a bit darker than much of his material and the E Street Band isnít involved in this. In some ways this is a precursor to Nebraska. This is one of Springsteenís most personal songs as he sings in the voice of his brother-in-law and covers his early marriage to Springsteenís sister. It really is a working manís song in so many ways. Few Springsteen songs have this type of intensity which is saying a lot for someone who can write some pretty intense material.

    Point Blank: A piano dominated ballad that reflects on a broken relationship. Not an unusual theme to be sure, but Springsteen somehow turns a typical theme into something more lyrical as breaking up is akin to being shot in the back.

    Cadillac Ranch: Springsteen at his upbeat best. If you read the review on, Dave Marsh seems to suggest this is in fact a graveyard for those that live in the fast lane- literally. If so, itís certainly an upbeat way to do it. Pretty clever.

    Iím a Rocker: I think Springsteen is channeling 1966 if you look at the lyrics. Springsteen isnít being introspective on this track. Rather, the band just seems to be having fun which is what a band should be doing anyway, right?

    Fade Away: This ballad was released as a single but I donít remember this doing very well. This track garnered some pretty good reviews, but I donít get that vibe personally. But, different strokesÖ no, Iím not Gary Coleman. I do like Federiciís organ solo.

    Stolen Car: This one is a bit stark. Replace the piano with an acoustic guitar and it fits quite well on Nebraska. Itís a sad song about a relationship that didnít work out. Where the stolen car enters into this, I couldnít tell you, but it seems to work.

    Ramrod: Springsteen gets back on the upbeat train with this one. This one has a great Farfisa organ and certainly has the elements of a fun sixties song that talks about cars and girls. Not a favorite song but certainly not a bad one either.

    The Price You Pay: I think Springsteen is talking about the consequences on what path you may take. Whether heís talking about romantic choices or career choices, only he knows for sure. One thing for sure, itís a bit of a reality check after the fun of Ramrod.

    Drive All Night: Probably the slowest song on the album. Itís somber in tone but yet there is a lot of hope in this song. Itís one of Springsteenís abilities, to take something negative and turn it into a positive message of hope, something that will be much needed in later years for all of us really.

    Wreck On the Highway: Springsteen says he ripped the title from the Roy Acuff classic. Yes, this is a country tinged tune to a large extent. I even wonder how much he took from Acuffís song itself. Iíll have to play sleuth and check it out sometime. I do remember Acuffís song being quite powerful, even for the 1940s. Anyway. Itís a pretty pensive way to end this double album set.

    OVERALL EFFECT: The first of the two discs comes close to five star quality with tracks like Hungry Heart and the River. It tails off a bit on side two. But the quality remains high. Again, there are the personal elements for me and I know that critics rate this as one of Springsteenís best. For me, Iím not as sure. Itís certainly an excellent album and itís getting four stars, and I love how he is maturing as a songwriter. But I still keep looking at Born To Run as the barometer, and I havenít found an equal to that album as of yet. Still, Springsteenís momentum is still going strong. Nice piano at the end.


    The Word has Spoken
    It's here! Hidden Content

    ​List your top ten songs before December 15. The WF 100 will be posted December 31. Hidden Content

    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

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