Classic Album Review: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
Released in the summer of 1984, Born In The USA was the album that finally gave Bruce Springsteen the critical and commercial success that his previous six albums had warranted. The bombastic rock stylings on display on this record were a dramatic departure from 1981’s solo acoustic offering Nebraska, and there are even reports that Springsteen had to promise Born In The USA would aim for a mainstream sound in order to get Nebraska released.
Undoubtedly his most famous album, it is not as gritty as much of his other work, however that is not to say that it is pure pop. The problems of the American man are still fully explored here – they are just contained in more polished songs. The biggest example of this is title track ‘Born In The USA’, a bitter anthem lambasting the Vietnam War that is commonly mistaken as being patriotic. In fact, during Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984, he used the song at one of his rallies, missing the point entirely.
The following track ‘Cover Me’, is one of the weaker songs on the album, along with track nine – ‘I’m Going Down’. Far from being bad songs, they just don’t feel at home on this album, and would have been more suited stripped down on Nebraska or 1980’s double album The River. The third track ‘Darlington County’ has no such problems. A song about two buddies travelling through America to find work and the problems and joys they have on their journey exemplifies Springsteen and what he does best. These themes are further explored in the following track ‘Working On The Highway’, and placing these tracks next to each other on the album creates a vivid image of the American blue collar worker, and highlights just how good a storyteller Springsteen is.
‘Downbound Train’ sees the album take a more sombre direction. The song describes a man who loses both his wife and job in a short space of time, and the effects it has on him, two problems the general American population was all too familiar with at the time. This is followed by ‘I’m on Fire’, which whilst still darker in tone, reads like a teenage love letter. ‘No Surrender” is a song about friendship and that unbreakable bond, whilst ‘Bobby Jean’ is a lament that deals with what it’s like to lose your best friend when they are also your lover. This track does see the album go back towards a more mainstream sound, which is perfected on tracks ten and eleven – ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Dancing In The Dark’. These two songs cannot be done justice in words. Yes, they are both very simple pop songs, but Springsteen manages to squeeze real emotion into them. If you are unfamiliar with them I implore you to stop reading this and put them on, you won’t regret it.
Album closer ‘My Hometown’ is the saddest song on the album, a look at how the ‘American Dream’ results in generation after generation repeating each other with little or no progress. Despite it’s downbeat nature, it works perfectly as an album closer.
Born In The USA is the perfect pop-rock album. I do not say that lightly either. Whilst not my personal favorite Boss album, this is the album that got me into him, and I believe that anyone that sits down and listens to it will also be drawn into his world.
Songs To Spotify: Darlington County, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark.
Bruce Springsteen - Etihad Stadium, Manchester 22.06.12
As torrential rain sweeps across Manchester, it can’t dampen the spirits of those heading to Manchester City’s ground this evening for The Boss is in town!
With an approximate arrival time of 7pm, rumblings of the man’s name start sounding throughout the ground. Around 7:15, the legendary E Street Band burst on to the stage to thunderous applause before Springsteen himself emerges to huge echoing cheers.
Badlands launches the beginning of a mighty 3 1/2 hour set which Springsteen made look effortless. Donned in all black, including a suave silk waistcoat, you wouldn’t believe he was 62, especially with all manic running around. Though age is a little more noticeable in his voice, he still has that gravelly commanding vocal he is so well known for. Covering all the bases, new album Wrecking Ball gets a good showing and is received well by the crowd, particularly We Take Care Of Our Own. Forever a charmer, Springsteen’s charisma and energy has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. The gratitude to his fans is evident in his glowing smile and he even pulls people up out of the crowd to join him on stage, including a young boy who he entrusts with the mic to sing the chorus of Waitin’ On A Sunny Day.
The bond between Springsteen and the E Street Band is a strong as ever, and they put on a dazzling performance. Jake Clemons takes the pressure in his stride and shows of his saxophone skills, he did learn from the best! A touching tribute to Mr Clarence Clemons on the big screen receives one of the biggest cheers of the night, an incredible talent truly missed.
Classic favourites such as Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark have everyone on their feet singing along and a surprise ending of Twist And Shout is a perfect end to a wonderful evening.
Tonight was a masterclass for any aspiring musician and proves that The Boss has certainly still got it!
Jolly June gigs!
The top hatted front man returns to UK shores for a one off appearance at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo on June 6th. With Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators in tow and a brand spanking new album to show off, you don’t want to miss this! More here.
The Boss himself is back for a stadium tour this June after the recent release of his 17th studio album Wrecking Ball. With the trusty E Street Band joining him, the loss of the legendary Clarence Clemons will be huge, but no doubt they will make him proud! Dates and tickets here.
As part of their PJ20 world tour, Europe finally gets its turn when grunge pioneers Pearl Jam return for a couple of dates in Manchester. After their hugely successful and inspiring DVD, their visit is not one to be missed! Check it out here.
Now in it’s 10th year, Download has gone all out to celebrate this year and got some of the biggest names in rock on their bill including the mighty Sabbath and Metallica. As well as the big names, some of rocks future stars are also appearing giving a nice blend of new and old! Check out the website for more info.
The songstress, hailing from LA, hits UK shores this month for her own headline tour. Famed for her incredibly unique soulful voice and her work with the likes of Slash and Joe Bonamassa, you really should make the effort to witness her talent yourself! All info here.
Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
The man, the legend, ‘The Boss’, Wrecking Ball is Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album! Never afraid to use music as a means of communication, he has once again used his musical talent to address America’s social and political situations.
First single We Take Care Of Our Own starts an album of diverse tracks. Easy Money has a country feel to it whilst the whistle and rhythms in Death To My Home gives it the sound of traditional highland music. Title track Wrecking Ball made its first appearance in 2009 about the Giants Stadium in New Jersey and is actually one of the stronger tracks of the album. Unfortunately a few songs, such as This Depression, drag a little and don’t fully capture your attention. Land Of Hope And Dreams, a track created in 1999, features a solo from the late, great Clarence Clemons, a true master of the saxophone, and his musical relationship with Springsteen was a match made in heaven. The loss of a close friend is another noticeable theme throughout the record. The anger Springsteen expresses towards current situations in America can be heard in his delivery of the lyrics, particularly in Jack Of All Trades.
Whilst maybe not his strongest album, Bruce Springsteen’s dedication to music, and his clever ability to use it as a tool to get a message across is unquestionable. There’s only one ‘Boss!’
Song of the day!
Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care Of Our Own
Latest single from Mr Springsteen. His new album Wrecking Ball is out tomorrow!
Song of the day!
Bruce Springsteen - Dancing In The Dark
Are you going to the tour next year? Sure to be amazing!
What I’ve Been Listening To…
Bruce Springsteen is not called The Boss for nothing. He’s an all American singing legend! Every song has the potential to be an anthem, he really can do no wrong and deserves every bit of praise he gets. If you haven’t listened to him before, do so. I promise you wont be disappointed.
Songs I’d recommend:
- Born to Run, naturally!
- The River
- Better Days
One of the best rock bands around at the moment. I’ve been listening to their newest songs (all two of them!) and they seem to be reverting back to the tone of their first album and I for one couldn’t be happier. I’m seeing them at Milton Keynes Bowl in the summer, absolutely cannot wait. A band I’ll always love.
Songs I’d recommend
- My Poor Brain
The next big thing this year. I’d bet my music collection on it. Frank Turner is a folk singer that any twenty-something can relate to. His music is upbeat but always brings a message with it, he’s an intelligent songwriter with a great career ahead of him.
Songs I’d recommend
- Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
- Long Live the Queen
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails have such fantastic depth, their lyrics are deliciously dark. I don’t think there’ll ever be a band quite like them and that in itself explains just how superb they are. Industrial at it’s absolute best.
Songs I’d recommend
- Head Like A Hole
Pictures courtesy of http://weheartit.com