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This is one of Springsteen's truly great albums - his Blood on the Tracks. Every bit as great as Born to Run, but in a different way, this album is a must for Springsteen fans, and fans of singer-songwriters generally. The quality of the songwriting on the album is breath taking at times. As a song-cycle about marriage and divorce, this is as good as it gets. Songs such as Valentine's Day, Walk Like a Man and Cautious Man form the spine of this album - devestatingly honest writing. Brilliant Disguise is a prime example - every line is perfect - "God have mercy on the man, who doubts what he's sure of" sings Springsteen. What more to say? The album has a great deal of depth to it which gives the album real weight and makes it one for the ages - it stands up to repeated listens and rewards the listener who wants to really spend a great deal of time with it. He played every song from this album, finally, on his great solo tour in the mid 00's. Finally his audience got to hear these songs. Taken with the outtakes, stuff like Two for the Road and The Honeymooners, the collection of songs stand as a commentary on the most painful of human experiences - falling in and out of love. The saddest line on the whole record can be found on When You're Alone:
"nobody knows, honey, where love goes, but when it's goes, it's gone, gone."
Hey, who's that dude at the top of the page? Yep, you got it - Bruce Springsteen. Now, do you think I can get away with writing one more review about 'The Boss' without driving you all nuts and boring you to tears?
I had some great birthday pressies at the end of September and this was one of them - the original recording of 'Tunnel of Love' on vinyl. Second hand, of course but in pretty good nick.
I have been trying to get hold of this for ages either on CD or vinyl but unable to have it delivered to Poland because private sellers won't post here. I read about the album a while back and the journalist (from Rolling Stone mag) said that this was Springsteen's 'love story' album. I have always had him down as a romantic and interesting to see on his latest interview on American TV last week he was asked, 'Are you a romantic or a realist?' At this point he went a little shy and turned his head away. He was thinking about his answer. But I think we know the answer - don't we?
Okay, so let's have a look at the album. 'Tunnel of Love,' the titular track was the only song I really knew because as I've mentioned before in past reviews - me and Bruce weren't buddies way back in 1987. I thought he was just too square.
On listening to the album first time I was a bit taken a back - it was what I call a raw country rock album. Interesting to note that on 7 tracks Springsteen plays every instrument even though the E street band is around they never play as a complete band on any of the songs so in a way it is a kind of solo album.
There's a touch of rock n roll but not in the party sense - it's seems like an album split up into three parts and because of this seems a bit schizophrenic. There is definitely a dark, moody feeling very similar to the 'Nebraska' album but a bit more rocky. Bruce seems hurt, desperate and distracted. His marriage to model/actress Julianna Philips had just broken up. He's a wounded man - he made a wrong decision and the songs on the album are reflections of his broken love and relationship. He may not have realised at the time but the writing of this album was possibly the changing of the tide for him - he was changing spiritually. It was the beginning of a new cycle of creativity and artistry that would last for many years.
After first playing the album I liked it but there were a few tracks I had to play over again because I was unsure about the overall sound and how they fitted together.
The first track startled me, not expecting to hear pure raw rockabilly. His voice is very loud and edgy; as he huffs and puffs the words out you can feel the frustration. Flashes of early Elvis come into my head when I hear this track. It's a solo acoustic number delivered in the first person, telling us how he has all the riches in the world but one thing is missing - the woman in his life.
The second track, 'Tougher than the Rest,' I really do like - I like the big country sound with the twangy guitar, harmonica and strong romantic vocals. It's an 80s country rock ballad alright! Good hard, hitting drum sound by Max Weinburg and vaudeville Hammond organ sound from Danni Frederici. Bruce's vocals are direct, backing vocals are soft turning to strident and nice acoustic guitar sound from Patti there in the background. Bruce using the flanger pedal on this track creating the classic 80's mullet sound or as he calls his hairstyle at the time - 'Italian Frizz.'
It's amazing how your taste changes - well perhaps some folks never change their minds about songs they heard 20+ years ago but this type of song I was never into and would have run a mile from and that's perhaps why I was never a fan then of his music. Now, I love the cheesiness of it all and these lyrics;
Some girls they want a handsome Dan
Or some good-lookin Joe, on their arm
Some girls like a sweet-talkin Romeo
Well 'round here baby
I learned you get what you can't get
So if your rough enough for love
Honey I'm tougher than the rest
Basically, a song about needing someone even if they aren't the right one. At least he/she should be willing to give it a try and if it doesn't work out - he/she can just walk away.
'Spare Parts' - last track on Side 1 and one that has grown on me since owning the album. Some beautiful bottle-neck guitar here - worthy of Ry Cooder. A soulful, lonely, desperate song about a girl who made a mistake and because of this her life and everything changed around her. His voice is quite wild, slightly demented like he is going through some major ideal and purging his mind and body from the evil in the world but at the same time telling the girl to hang in there, not to give up but carry on and change her life. You could say this is Springsteen's homage to all single Mums' out there. He's telling women to pick up the smashed pieces of their lives after been left caring for the child, move on and find themselves. A great track and good to hear some members of the E Street band backing him here to give the song a big mighty Texas sound.
Then comes one of my favourite songs - 'Walk Like a Man.' I love this song mainly because I'm a soppy, emotional, romantic sort of person and I turn to jelly when I hear the lyrics explaining his ordeal of walking down the aisle as a young man wondering if he has made the right decision or not and needing his father there on that important date even though they have had their differences in the past. It's an old fashioned tale of a father and a son and I know he has used this theme before and so have many other musicians before him but Springsteen never fails to move me with his own brand of emotionalism.
Well now the years have gone and I've grown
From that seed you've sewn
But I didn't think there'd be so many steps
I'd have to learn on my own
Well I wasa young and didn't know what to do
When I saw your best steps stolen from you
Now I'll do what I can
I'll walk like a man
And I'll keep on walkin'
Moving on - Side 2 opens with the titular track and a great cheesy big 80's number but one of the best songs he has written and the two tracks that follow, 'Two Faces' and 'Brilliant Disguise', are really the core of the album. All three songs are about how we deceive ourselves when we are deeply in love. We slip on another mask - sometimes pretending we are someone we aren't, making false promises that we know we can't always keep, hurting the one we love when we don't plan to but can't help doing it. The mood of these songs is one of sheer defiance; of not knowing the man he is, disappointed in himself and that the principles he was looking for having nothing to do with what his heart is feeling. 'Two Faces' says it all - a schizophrenic song about a man who is sunny and wild and loves to see his baby smile and then the dark cloud comes rolling in.
'Brilliant Disguise' is a truthful comment about his first marriage where he explicitly tells us in his way about although he thought he was sure of his decision to get married he had doubts about; being a husband, and how he felt as a man, his wedding night, his beautiful wife and even the words his best man spoke. I wonder how many men have felt this way? This is a 'big' song and beautifully sung in his rough, craggy style - one that stays in my memory all the time and often find myself trying to curl the words like he does.
And 'One Step Up.' I really liked this track from the start and you will often hear me singing out loud to this one. It's very catchy; a song about questioning a relationship when it is going sour. All those arguments and slamming of doors. There's temptation and loneliness as he steps into the local bar.
Nice video to this on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkFQHScyti0&ob=av2e
So what do I think? It's a very good album, very romantic without being to gushing. It isn't earth shattering like, 'The River' and 'Nebraska' but it has lots of great guitar sounds, soothing backing vocals from Patti and the lyrics are brilliant if sometimes a bit cheesy. I think the album is important because after this one Springsteen changed his direction away from the big rocker and as much as every fan loves, 'Born in the USA' and 'Born to Run' he hasn't really recorded those big rock hits since 87. This album is where we see Bruce growing up, getting to grips with himself and the disappointments in his life, becoming more spiritual. The old door closes, the old Boss leaves. New door opens and a new 'Boss' enters.
Who would like the album? Definitely Springsteen fans and soppy, romantic people like me. Folks who like a good bit of bottleneck guitar and those country, twangy numbers. People who are into corny lyrics and Americana?
Well, even if you don't like any of those things - give it a try. It took 23 years before I got round to listening to it and I'm so glad I did. It's in my pile of top 10 Springsteen albums now!
when i first heard this album i didnt understand it i thought the music was lovely but i didnt understand what it was all about, then one day i put it on and bam it hit me and all fell into place.
The album is about relashinships. and no one can write about them like bruce springsteen,
this is not a soppy love album this is not a dark ride through the tunnel of love but this is a rollercoaster of emotions ,
the album deals with deciept betrayal denial lust hope fear self doubt all the feelings that love brings us.
musically this is a beautiful sounding album ( sounds great on headphones ) lyrically its brilliant . and vocally its clear and sung well and you can feel the realness in he's voice as he sings.
it contains 5 hit singles and a class of songwritting .
the songs well. here's a rundown.
aint got you - a short rockabilly type number about having everything but love
tougher than the rest - a bruce classic ( this was a single and the live version is a thousand times better ( check out the video ) a good solid i want you love song.
all that heaven will alllow - is alight hearted feel good love song about wanting everything from life.
spare parts - the only real rock song on the album and this was also a single. the live version though again is much better. a good rockin tale of a pregnant girl and her troubles
cautious man - this a story song the most sombre on the album it sound slovely and the story is brilliant
walk like a man - a brillaint ballad about being brave and recalling the past this has some brilliant lyrics
Tunnel of love - another single with video this is now another classic a good mid upbeat rock love song
two faces - a mid tempo ballad with soem great keyboard sing along riff - aboutthe two faces we show in love
brilliant disguise - again another classic track and single. tell me what i see when i look in your eyes is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise >?
one step up - another hit single and a brilliant song lovely music this is a real highlight to the album
when youre alone - a catchy ballad again lyrics are great
valentines day - this is like a slow driving ballad with some lovely music and a voice of uncertainty and hope and fear and longing. great end to a brilliant album.
iif you know the pit falls of love and that other sid of the coin then you will really appreciate this album
Springsteen - Tunnel Of Love (1987) 3 years after the massive success of Born In The USA (selling 18 million albums), America's nearest thing to a working class hero gave us a more sublime offering. Subtle, thoughtful and brilliant. Tunnel Of Love was recorded predominantly at his home in Rumson, New Jersey. Disappointed with early recordings with country musicians, Springsteen reverted to working solo on what is effectively an introverted view on the progression of a relationship in a dozen classy songs. While the E Street Band are credited with involvement in much of the work, you do not feel that the band actually contributed to the overall feel of the album. For me, this makes it all the better. So, what about the songs? Well, how do you tell the tale of a relationship moving from longing to dating to marriage and the inevitable doubts and failures that follow? Ain't Got You is a strong enough start, but Tougher Than The Rest clearly sets out the fight to win over the girl. With a drum beat matching the heartbeat, this is probably the highlight of the album for me, but there is still lots of marvellous stuff to follow. Spare Parts (And Broken Hearts) as well as Cautious Man seem to fall back on Springsteen and the relationship with his father, expressing a cynical view of marriage. Fear of all the demons of relationships are expressed in Two Faces and the terrific Brilliant Disguise which reflects Springsteen and his songwriting at its very best. Many of us can reconcile the lyric "I wanna know if its you I don't trust, cos I damn sure don't trust myself". Despite the lively One Step Up, the lyrical content and mood of the album is still a tad depressing, and played late on a lonely night makes perfect listening as he describes "when I look at myself, I don't see the man I wanted to be" as for every step forward he takes two steps back. When You
re Alone waves goodbye to the failing relationship and the keyboard led Valentines Day closes in the album with an overwhelming sense of loss. The demise of Springsteen's own marriage happened during the making of this album, and, as songwriters often do, he clearly used his work as a way to express the frustrations at his own failures as he lost something he valued. While selling only a third of the number of copies of Born In The USA, this is a better album. Thoughtfully crafted songs around a continuous theme that is easy to relate to, Springsteen will almost certainly be prouder of this work, even if it didn't make him as much money. Get it. Listen to it. £8.99 at www.cd-wow.com or a lot more anywhere else! Subsequent albums include The Ghost Of Tom Joad and The Rising. I rate these at 6 stars!
When it came out, it represented a change in direction for Springsteen. For a start, it was credited to Bruce Springsteen, not to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Some of the members feature, but no gutsy saxophone from Clarence Clemons, (although he does provide some vocals) and no Steve Van Zandt. The band was joined by Nils Lofgren, who I have always rated highly, but he doesn't get much chance to make his mark. Listening to it now, "Tunnel of Love" still sounds similar in some ways to the 'older' material that preceded it, just a bit calmer, the music of a rocker who's grown up. Lyrically, the themes are now love and relationships, rather than racing on the street and dating. I still like the title track. Back in 1987 the song "Tunnel of Love" reminded me of Dire Straits, which unsettled me, but I enjoy listening to it nonetheless. "Brilliant disguise" (also released as a single) always seemed a bit feeble somehow, not quite redeemed by the inclusion of "in the wee wee hours" lyric! "Walk like a man" is one-man-in-a-recording studio a la the "Nebraska" album. Stand out tracks are "Tougher than the rest", the title track and the wistful "Valentine's Day", but there's nothing really awful on here.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Ain't Got You
2 Tougher Than The Rest
3 All That Heaven Will Allow
4 Spare Parts
5 Cautious Man
6 Walk Like A Man
7 Tunnel Of Love
8 Two Faces
9 Brilliant Disguise
10 One Step Up
11 When You're Alone
12 Valentine's Day