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Bruce Springsteen
In Freehold, New Jersey, a good 58 years ago, was born a young lad whose father was a bus driver and his mother was a secretary. He led a simple life, far away from the wealth and stardom that would soon fall upon him. He picked up his first guitar at the age of 13, not knowing that one day this instrument would give him the power to pluck soon to be ‘Friends’ stars from his audience and do some geeky dance moves onstage to what would soon become one of the most popular songs of the 80s.

The 60s and 70s saw Bruce Springsteen move through a whole string of bands including the Castilles, Earth, Steel Mill and Dr. Zoom And The Sonic Boom. In January 1973, he finally released his solo album titled Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., but before I say “and the rest is history” it should be noted that this album didn’t do too well. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975’s Born To Run that Bruce actually hit it big, scoring his first hit single as well with the record’s title track…and the rest is history!

Fast forward to 1984’s Born In The USA, a somewhat step aside for the fairly non commercial style that he had kept to, till now. However, although this record could be defined as mainstream, he still managed to make it cool. He still did it with style, he still did it gruff, and he still did it screaming! The album topped the charts, stayed in the top 10 for two years and spawned seven top 10 singles, making this one of the biggest albums of the 80s and giving Bruce the authority to make funny faces while singing his songs.

Fast forward once again to 2007 and the Boss is back! Well he never really went anywhere. We still heard him murmur through the introspective songs on Devils And Dust and shout through the fiddle-heavy folk of We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, but now he’s back to his old ways! He’s screaming, he’s got heavy guitars, he’s got saxophones, he’s got the E Street Band back together and although we still loved him when he went a little soft these last few years, he’s back as ‘The Boss’. This is Born To Run, 2007 style baby!

Track By Track
Springsteen’s new album Magic has made the news by actually holding the #1 spot on five different album charts on Billboard. What makes the entire album so special? Here’s a track-by-track preview of each song to explain exactly why.

Radio Nowhere: Slipping the disk in to hear a raunchy guitar riff was the perfect initiation to Bruce’s hardest rocking record in some time. Bruce demands that we all join hands and demand more airplay for some ol’ school rock ‘n’ roll as he sings, “I want a thousand guitars, I want pounding drums…I just want to hear some rhythm.” You tell ’em brother!

You’ll Be Coming Down: The big beat, rhythmic guitars and sax solo make the second track sound like it could’ve been picked right off a 70s album by the same band. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not complaining. Although the lyrical content is a little dark and pessimistic ~ “You’re smiling now, but you’ll find out. They’ll use you up and spit you out” ~ we’re still grooving to the perky beat like it’s 1975 (although I was born a few years later).

Livin’ In The Future: This track almost sounds like a remake of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. Dark-ish lyrics, “Like when we kissed, the taste of blood on your tongue”, coupled with head bopping beats and saxophone solos make this a catchy dance-y track in a similar fashion to the previous track.

Your Own Worst Enemy: Heavily orchestrated enough to sound like Bruce Springsteen does the Beach Boys. One of the less exciting points of the album, the combination of brusque vocals on the Pet Sounds-style carnival sounds make this one of the stranger and less exciting tracks on the album.

Gypsy Biker: A boring track #4 just sets us up for an extraordinary track #5. The highlight of the album set along the same musical style of Human Touch ~ starting slower with tender vocals slowly building up to an explosive finale guitar solo. The lyrics make this the deepest track on the album. The singer prepares for the homecoming of a soldier, “We pulled your cycle out of the garage, and polished off the chrome, our gypsy biker’s coming home’, only the solider is dead, and the singer mourns by getting high over a few lines of coke “Now I’m out countin’ white lines, countin’ white lines and getting stoned.”

Girls In Their Summer Clothes: On this track, Brucie shows his lovable sleazy old man side, ‘The girls in their summer clothes, in the cool of the evening light, the girls in their summer clothes, pass me by.’ Singing in the gentlest growl we’ve probably heard from him so far, this catchy 60s jukebox-style single is probably the most radio friendly single on the album and it will be surprising if it isn’t released as a single.

I’ll Work For Your Love: A crisp piano plays the opening bars to a song that sounds like it was actually created for Bob Dylan. In fact Bruce kinda murmurs through the vocals in a Dylan-esque manner. The lyrics on this track are the weakest; “I’ll work for your love, dear, I’ll work for your love, what others may want for free, I’ll work for your love.” And while the tune still ends up being catchy in a typically Dylan-esque manner, this is not one of my favourite moments of the album.

Magic: One thing becomes pretty clear. When Bruce screams, he can make you dance, but when he gets all mellow and broody, he can make you tingle inside. From this track onwards, the album takes a slightly serious and mellower path. On this, the album’s only acoustic track, the tune gets a little haunting, the vocals get a little smoky, and the musical arrangement is gentle and smooth enough to allow us to enjoy the fruits of Bruce’s brooding.

Last To Die: On this, the second highest point in the album, Bruce sings about all he sees as he drives down “the highway till the road went black.” However, this isn’t a happy Tom Petty, Running Down A Dream, style driving song. It’s a hauntingly spine tingling track whose lyrics speak about all the misfortune occurring on either side of the road: “A downtown window flushed with light. ‘Faces of the dead at five’, our martyr’s silent eyes, petition the drivers as we pass by,” but could very well be referring to the war in Iraq ~ asking how long it will wage on for, and who will be the last American soldier to die for the mistake of entering into this war.

Long Walk Home: “It’s gonna be a long walk home. Hey pretty darling, don’t wait up for me,” says a soldier on his way to war. The sax solo in the middle as well as the end of the song adds to the drama of departure as we envision the soldiers being shipped away. “You know that flag flying over the courthouse, means certain things are set in stone, who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t,” the soldier’s father tells him in a father- son moment in the trend of My Hometown.

Devil’s Arcade: “The slow games of poker with Lieutenant Ray, in the ward with the blue walls, a sea with no name.” Bruce once again returns to talk about the life of a soldier away at war, as he dreams about his life back home, but awakens “with the thick desert dust” on his skin. The chilling violin heard throughout the song coupled with the strumming guitar once again allows for a deliciously haunting song to close a great album…or so you’d think.

You can read the rest of our feature on Bruce Springsteen in the November 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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