Friday, June 02, 2006

Is he still the boss?

For many years, since 1984 to be exact, I have been a Bruce Springsteen fan. I own every CD and count his 1975 breakthru release Born To Run as one of my favourite albums of all time.

Top 5 Bruce Springsteen albums.
1. Born To Run
2. The River
3. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
4. Born In The U.S.A.
5. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

If you are a Springsteen fan, you will notice one thing from that list. All of these releases are Bruce Springsteen AND The E Street Band. I realize now that I am not a Springsteen fan, I am an E Street Band fan. I own both Nebraska and Tom Joad but I never really listen to them.

I want the big loud drums of Max Weinberg, the bashing piano playing of Roy Bittan. I want the sing along styles of songs like "Cadillac Ranch" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out". I want the lone piano playing at the beginning that has the band join in later like "Thunder Road" and "Growin' Up".

I can appreciate Nebraska. The song "Atlantic City" is really good though I prefer the version by The Band from the 1993 Band CD Jericho or Springsteen's live version from MTV Plugged. However, it is just too morose for me.

After the success of 1984's Born In The USA, Springsteen disbanned the E Street Band and started recording solo albums with other musicians. I like 1987's Tunnel Of Love though it seems dated to me now. I really do not listen to it much anymore.

Then came the release of two simultaneous CDs in Lucky Town and Human Touch. To this day, I do not understand this marketing strategy. There seems little difference between the two and had Bruce just combined the best from each, he would have come up with a solid album. Instead, people only remember a couple of good singles from each. I have since taken the best songs from each and burned them onto one disc.

1. Human Touch
2. 57 Channels (And Nothin' On)
3. Roll Of The Dice
4. All Or Nothin' At All
5. Man's Job
6. Better Days
7. Lucky Town
8. Local Hero
9. If I Should Fall Behind
10. Leap Of Faith
11. Living Proof
12. Beautiful Reward

Looking at that track list I made, this is still a pretty uninspired CD that was really a step backwards for the Boss.

His next CD, The Ghost of Tom Joad is even more of a downer than Nebraska. I have literally listened to it twice. The only song I can even recall is the title track and that is only because of it's references to one of my favourite movies The Grapes Of Wrath.

I know I should really like his next release (as it is with the E Street Band), The Rising. But I really don't that much. There are good songs like Lonesome Day, the title track, Waitin' On A Sunny Day and Countin' On A Miracle but there are some un-E Street sounding songs like Worlds Apart and Let's Be Friends that just creep me out.

Currently, my dilemma is his new solo record (without the E Street Band) entitled We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. As much as I wish this was an album of him covering Bob Seger songs like Katmandu and The Fire Inside, it is actually Pete Seeger songs that he covers. I am told that the album is not a sombre affair like the aforementioned Nebraska and Tom Joad, it still doesn't interest me that much. The comparison many critics are making is to The Band's early recordings with Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, unless the names Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Little Stevie, Clarence Clemons, Gary Tallent, Danny Federici and Nils Lofgren are included, I just don't care enough to go out and buy it.



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