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My fellow Dooyoo reviewer wrote 'Everyone knows who Springsteen is....'. I would say any music lover who does not know Bruce Springsteen cannot be called a serious music connoisseur. One may not like his music or would like somebody else more in comparison to Bruce but no one serious about music shall be ignorant of the 'Boss' Springsteen.
Springsteen, over the last 40 years with or without his famous E-band has been an event driven musician. Whether it is the take on American freedom with 'Born in the USA' or the gun culture in 'Streets of Philadelphia' his music has been about political statements.
With 'Wrecking Ball' he has indulged into the themes of frustration with the American Economy and the work culture. However, many shall question the motives of a millionaire rock star belting out high-pitched songs on poverty and hard work and dismiss it as plain hypocrisy. But it shall be grossly unfair to term him a hypocrite as he too knows a thing or two about poverty being bred in economically challenged circumstances in New Jersey and there no one can doubt his penchant for hard work if you see him perform on stage every night working feverishly and well into overtime.
In this politically charged atmosphere with the US Presidential elections looming large and the economy still floundering, this album reignites the political debates on the struggling economy, frustration of the poor and work scenario. Springsteen believes in the American dream and sees how that dream has been shattered due to bad politics - irresponsible governance, unethical business practices and uninhibited greed of the few. With America in despair, his music and lyrics seems so pertinent.
"We Take Care Of Our Own"
He ponders "Where's the promise, from sea to shining sea?" in the lead song "We Take Care Of Our Own" despairing at the loss of the 'American dream of freedom'.
Musically this is superb with its spry rendition. The choral arrangement is smart. Springsteen's vocals add to charisma while the lyrics are so carefree - burning hellfire and guns galore.
"Shackled And Drawn"
This is an anthem to the working class, "Stand back, son, and let a man work". He seems frustrated and helpless that the present day America just does not have space for an honest and hardworking American. Lot of energy goes into the vocals with plenty of shouts and anguishes. It carries a lot of high pitched beats and subtle timbres.
"Jack Of All Trades"
This looks the most inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement where Springsteen spews anger and venom at the '1%' - those bankers and power-brokers from the Wall Street, especially towards the end - "shoot the bastards on sight." The opening notes of the song is ballad like where the workers is willing to do any job that comes by though by the end he seems to pent his anger on those who he'd worked for. Excellent guitar piece.
"Death To My Hometown"
It is an Irish-African experiment in sound and music. The Irish melody mixes very well with African beats to belt out a marching song.
As with the name, the song is also depressing. It does not have the same vigour as other pieces despite the guitar from Tom Morello.
This was made initially for the demolition of the New Jersey's Giants Stadium but in the present context it assumes huge significance. It is equally true with the hardworking 99% as was with the Giant's stadium that their destiny looks doomed but the resoluteness of defiance goes on. Clemen's saxophone is mesmerising. The album's classic.
"You Got It"
The odd one out in that it does not carry the venom of the others. A rather sweet melodious song.
It is largely experimental. The rap is wholly out-of-place. The gospel like choir and captivating vocal redeem the song that fits well with the other pieces.
"Land Of Hope And Dreams"
This is the piece from the 1990s which Springsteen's fans ought to be familiar with. Again an anthem to America's dream.
"We Are Alive"
It contains a line from the classic "Ring Of Fire'' by John Cash. The lyrics are very demonstrative and hopeful. An optimistic ending to the Springsteen's anger and despair.
It has the Springsteen's seal. The album is an anthem to economic woes and a salute to the hardworking man. It has the spirit of awakening.
It has 2 bonus tracks. The case is environment-friendly cardboard. There is also a booklet with the lyrics - very essential for an album like this which shall be remembered more for its lyrics then its music. And as well mentioned by my fellow Ciao reviewer the tribute to the late E Street band member is worth a read. It shows the mindset of Springsteen and you can appreciate his music better.
It is a steal at under £10.
Appears in Ciao Uk under same name
A couple of years ago, I wrote a review of Bruce Springsteen's Live in Barcelona DVD, in which I confessed to being somewhat of a Springsteen obsessive. I'm sorry to say that, since then, my overwhelming love for The Boss has waned and, while I do still love him, I don't listen to his music as constantly as I used to. Bruce fanaticism has decreased in my parents' house as well and no longer are his live tour DVDs to be found playing on a near nightly basis. While we still hold Bruce close to our hearts, the Farrell household has ceased to be the Springsteen shrine it once was. There is, however, hope for him yet. There is one thing that looks set to reignite our passion for The Boss, and that, my friends, is Wrecking Ball.
*The Boss Facts/Rumours 1: At a recent gig in Sunderland, Bruce bent down and reached into his pocket, producing a sweet that he gave to a child at the front of the audience, all without stopping singing*
== Wrecking Ball ==
Wrecking Ball is Bruce Springsteen's seventeenth album from 2012, which quickly reached number one in no fewer than sixteen countries, including the UK. Many critics have described this album as an 'angry' one, with the themes of the album undoubtedly being the financial crisis and the current state of his home country, which is far from positive.
That said, it's not an anti-American album, by any means, with songs such as 'We Take Care of Our Own' being as celebratory of the United States as it is critical. This song in particular has elements of 'Born in the USA' about it, as it sounds very upbeat and patriotic on the face of it, but with some other ideas on other levels. This song is certainly a good one to open the album as well as being the first single: it's catchy, and is in line with many of his other album openers such as 'Radio Nowhere' and 'Thunder Road' in the way that it brings you into the album with a bang. Albeit, perhaps more a more subdued bang this time around.
The other singles from 'Wrecking Ball' have also been spectacularly well chosen, as I would say that 'Rocky Ground' and 'Death to My Hometown' are two of my very favourites from the album. 'Rocky Ground' is the first of The Boss's songs (that I know of) to include a short rap verse as well as having gospel elements and samples. This is a spectacular song, and while it is more sombre and sad in tone than the other two singles, its message is somewhat more positive and implies that, although 'we've been travelling over rocky ground', there is hope in sight. Perhaps the sunny day he's been waiting on since The Rising is finally going to come.
'Death to My Hometown' sounds much cheerier but is sadder in terms of content, as Bruce laments the loss of jobs and the decay of small towns in America, largely due to the failure of Wall Street and America's finances. In terms of spirit and how it makes me feel when I hear it, this song reminds me of 'The Rising' from the album of the same name or perhaps even 'My Lucky Day' from Working on a Dream, and I would say that it's perfect single material.
*The Boss Facts/Rumours 2: I've heard that Bruce and his wife Patti used to travel on separate planes when they were on tour together, so that if one of their planes went down, their children wouldn't be left orphaned*
Really, there isn't a week song on this album at all. The title track was originally written to honour the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, a local landmark set to be torn down, but soon was applied to many other things, including being an anthem of defiance in face of the crap that the economy and politicians can throw at us. It's also a cracking song and puts me in mind of 'Mary's Place' from The Rising in terms of its positive sound, but it certainly has more defiant elements. Other songs I adore include 'Jack of All Trades', which is much slower and sadder and wouldn't have been out of place on 'Devils and Dust'; 'Shackled and Drawn', in which Bruce seems to have drawn influence from his Seeger Sessions days; and 'American Land', which actually is from We Shall Overcome, but was undoubtedly included on Wrecking Ball as it fits very well with the patriotic sounding but actually critical appraisal of America's history.
*The Boss Facts/Rumours 3: E Street Band Saxophonist Clarence Clemons passed away in June 2011*
It must be pointed out that this is the first album to be released since the said death of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, who had played saxophone with Bruce for many years and was an integral part of the E Street Band. I remember seeing him on stage in Glasgow a few years ago and being blown away by his talent and commanding presence, and it was very sad to hear that he had passed away. On the band's current tour, he has been replaced by his nephew, which I find a wonderful tribute and way of passing the torch to another talented musician. The Big Man does feature on a couple of tracks on the album ('Wrecking Ball' and 'Land of Hope and Dreams') and it's sad to think that he won't appear on any more.
In my opinion, it seems as though Bruce and the E Street Band are getting better and better with each album, despite many of them being in their sixties now and not the young'uns who made 'Born to Run' and 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'. While 'Born to Run' is one of my favourite albums, I have to say that I do tend to prefer their later work, with my other favourite releases all coming from the 21st century. I couldn't say a bad word against any track from 'Working on a Dream' or 'Magic', whereas I have to confess to skipping some from 'Born in the USA' or 'The River', and 'Wrecking Ball' has definitely continued with the trend of newer being better. While many of you I'm sure will be fonder of his 70s and 80s work, I have to say that I'm glad that The Boss and his band seem to be getting better and stronger if anything, and eagerly anticipate whatever comes next.
*The Boss Facts/Rumours 4: Bruce used to occasionally turn up to The Stone Pony bar in his native New Jersey for surprise gigs even after he had become insanely famous.*
== Conclusion ==
This is an exceptional album and is definitely bringing me back to the fold and my old Springsteen obsession. Since getting this album, it has been the one that I have listened to the most frequently, although I have also been dipping into some other Bruce albums as well to listen to songs I used to particularly love. All thirteen (not unlucky for us!) of Wrecking Ball's tracks are spectacular and work together very well to create an album that is artistically and musically stunning as well as political and insightful.
Full marks to The Boss.
Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
I've been a Springsteen fan for many years and have seen him live on numerous occasions all over the world.
Wrecking Ball is his seventeenth studio album but more importantly for me it is the one hundred and nineteenth album of my Bruce Springsteen collection. I collect live albums, rare bootlegs and unreleased material as well as the official releases.
I was a fan of the original 'Born in the USA' and by that I mean the original that ninety-odd songs were penned for, which was originally titled 'Murder Incorporated'. It contains much better material and was sadly dumped for the more commercial effort after Springsteen wrote 'Dancing in the Dark' to prove to his manager that he could write a top ten hit if he wanted to. I mention this because I always measure new albums against the Murder Incorporated unreleased material, which I rate as some of Bruce's best work.
So onto the album and believe me I feel uncomfortable not doing a biography of the great man for you to read first; but seeing as that would probably run to over ten thousand words I will stick to the album for my sanity and yours.
The album was released on March fifth 2012 and went to number one in no less than sixteen different countries. It gave Bruce his tenth number one album in America, which equalled Elvis Presley to put him equal third on the all-time list behind The Beatles with nineteen and Jay Z with twelve (yes I said Jay Z - I know, I don't get it either. I couldn't name one Jay Z album and was shocked to find out he had had twelve number one albums).
I found the album to be Ok to listen to but I fear that Springsteen is trying to appease the fans by writing a stadium album again and not totally succeeding to be honest. Maybe because of the raw grittiness of the Murder Incorporated material or the haunting individualism of 'Nebraska', this album comes across as weak compared to them. He made this mistake once before with the double release of the 'Lucky Town' and 'Better Days' albums. They were jolly and likeable but had no real teeth as far as a Springsteen album was concerned. Critics have called this Bruce's angriest album yet but to be honest I think it is more of a hissy fit as it pans out into some kind of God-loving, bible rant. My review of it is probably angrier than Bruce's lyrics or the album.
Bruce chose to use session musicians for this album and the E-Street band are mostly absent. Clarence Clemons appears on two tracks, which he recorded on before his sad death and Patti Scialfa, Bruce's wife and E-Streeter, provides backing vocals on eight tracks, including the vocal arrangements on two of them. Little Steven (backing vocals and mandolin) and Max Weinburg (Drums) also feature on three tracks.
Wrecking Ball - The Album
Track One - We Take Care of Our Own - 3.54
The first track practically prances onto the album and is reminiscent in beat of 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out' and not unlike 'Mary's Place' in its feel. The chorus lyrics of 'We Take Care of Our Own' is really catchy and the track grows on you instantly. It really has that E-Street feel to it and is classic Bruce; which is perhaps a little surprising as the E-Street Band themselves aren't playing on it. This track was the first single to be released from the album on January nineteenth 2012. . Soozie Tyrell (long-time collaborator on Bruce albums with her violin) provides backing vocals on this track along with Bruce's wife Patti. I like the fact that Bruce is again ripping into the American government and dares to suggest that they don't really take care of their own at all. This is probably the most 'Bruce of old' track on the album and I felt a spark of excitement on listening to the rest.
'From Chicago to New Orleans. From the muscle to the bone. From the shotgun shack to the Super Dome. There ain't no help, the cavalry stayed home. There ain't no one hearing the bugle blowin. We take care of our own. We take care of our own. Wherever this flag's flown. We take care of our own.'
Track Two - Easy Money - 3.37
A slow drum beat to start this song and then Bruce kicks in sounding like a drunken southern cowboy. Sounds like a track that belongs on 'The Seeger Sessions' album, which I wasn't too keen on. Soozie, Patti and Antionette Savage provide backing vocals and the whole thing sounds like a line-dancing hoedown in a back barn on some ranch. Not for me this track.
'You put on your coat, I'll put on my hat, you put out the dog, and I'll put out the cat. You put on your red dress for me tonight, honey; we're going on the town now looking for easy money. There's nothing to it mister, you won't hear a sound, when your whole world comes tumbling down, and all them fat cats they just think it's funny, I'm going on the town now looking for easy money.'
Track Three - Shackled and Drawn - 3.46
Another farm workers hoedown and the able starts to lose a little credibility with me. Don't get me wrong, if that is what Bruce is trying to do then fine but I just get side-tracked by imagining loads of en-masse line-dancing in the middle of a football stadium at one of the tour gigs for this album. That was the main reason I stayed away from the Seeger Sessions tour to be honest. Thank God that he chose to play some songs with grit at Pink Pop in Holland this year. The 'I want you to stand up and be counted tonight' vocals of the evangelistic preacher at the end of this track does nothing for me either; I don't think any other atheist fan of Bruce would either.
'Great morning light splits through the chain. Another day older and closer to the grave. I'm closer to the grave and come the dawn. I woke this morning shackled and drawn.'
Track Four - Jack of all Trades - 6.00
A slow ballad for the next track and a welcome release from the cotton eyes Joe antics of the last two tracks. This is a slow track, reminiscent of the Tom Joad album. It has a heady guitar solo near the end and is a lengthy track at six minutes long. Although it is a relief to get away from the farmyard songs, this is not really the track to perk the album up. While the other 2 previous tracks are annoying they can't be accused of being dull, whereas on first listen this track is a pretty morbid affair. I dare say this will grow on me though when I am in one of my acoustic moods as there is no one better than Bruce when it comes to that. I saw him play an acoustic set at the Royal Albert hall with about ten different acoustic guitars racked up behind him and he was sensational.
'I'll mow your lawn, clean the leaves out your drain, I'll mend your roof to keep out the rain, I'll take the work that god provides, I'm a jack of all trades, honey, we'll be alright.'
Track Five - Death to my Hometown - 3.09
OK, so now we move from farmers and cowboys to what sounds like a swashbuckling pirate epic to be sung on a ship while full of booze, no doubt, me hearties. At this point during my first listen to the album, I was losing track of what Bruce is trying to accomplish with this album and long for a 'Badlands' or 'Thunder Road' to leap out at me in the coming tracks.
'No cannonballs did fly, no rifles cut us down. No bombs fell from the sky, no blood soaked the ground. No powder flash blinded the eye, no deafening thunder sounded, but just as sure as the hand of god, they brought death to my hometown.'
Track Six - This Depression - 4.08
A real slow drum beat kicks off the track and is accompanied by Bruce's heavy, deep tones and Patti and Soozie on backing vocals. I must say that on first listen it lives up to the title and I'm beginning to wonder at this point if Bruce has created a dud. I never like to judge anyone upon first impression and I think that is an awful trait to own, so I knew I would listen to the album on numerous occasions before making up my mind. Bruce is one of my heroes and just the fact that he is still rocking into his sixties is testament to the man and his outlook on life. This sis a slow track and not for everyone.
'Baby, I've been down but never this down. I've been lost but never this lost. This is my confession. I need your heart in this depression. I need your heart.'
Track Seven - Wrecking Ball - 5.49
So onto the album track and the song kicks in and immediately sounds like a Bruce song and an E-Street track. This is probably due to the fact that Max is on drums and Little Steven on lead guitar. Soozie also weighs in with her violin and partakes in backing vocals with Patti again. I like this track and I can see why it was decided that this would be the album title and lead track. It is not a rock epic by Bruce's standards but the E-Street Band members influence is as obvious as a chip in a chip packet and it works. Perhaps the most obvious and poignant thing about this track is Clarence Clemmons on his saxophone.
'I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey, some misty years ago Through the mud and the beer, and the blood and the cheers, I've seen champions come and go So if you got the guts mister, yeah if you've got the balls If you think it's your time, then step to the line, and bring on your wrecking ball.'
Track Eight - You've Got It - 3.49
Bruce is straight into this track with acoustic guitar and that familiar rustic voice. Electric piano kicks in (Sadly not Roy Bittan) and Cliff Norell plays his tuba and adds backing vocals. Another slow track with a big-band feel in the middle and reminiscent of Bruce in relaxed mode. Not a bad little track and keeps the album on the up after the title track.
'No one ever found it, ain't no school ever taught it No one ever made it, ain't no one ever bought it Baby you've got it, baby you've got it Come on and give it to me.'
Track Nine - Rocky Ground - 4.41
Track nine is the first of two tracks which feature the 'Victorious Gospel Choir' and they sound damn good to be honest. I say that as I am not religious at all but I like a gospel choir as long as they are not rambling on about God and Jesus. The chorus is quite addictive and Bruce sounds great on this track. It could do without one of the choirs Kanye impressions half-way through but it isn't too bad saying that. This is a likeable track and the solo choir singer at the end is reminiscent of the little African girl at the start and end of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow's charity song 'Sing'. This track was released as the second track from the album on April 21st 2012.
'Rise up shepherd, rise up. Your flock has roamed far from the hills. The stars have faded, the sky is still. The angels are shouting "Glory Hallelujah". We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground, we've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground.'
Track Ten - Land of Hope and Dreams - 6.58
Another typical Bruce song that is reminiscent of work from 'Working on a Dream'. This is probably due to the fact that this song has been re-written and revamped on numerous occasions as it was written over ten years ago and was originally meant for 'The Rising' album. This track is a little more upbeat than the last and the choir again sound good. The first time I heard this almost brought a tear too my eye as the saxophone solo is so obviously 'The Big Man', Clarence Clemmons, recorded before his sad death. He had already appeared as mentioned on track seven but something about his solo hear really makes you think of him if you're a fan. Anyone who has seen him live with the E-Street Band will know what I mean. The longest track on the album and a tribute to Clarence in my eyes. He was Bruce's best friend for many years so I can only begin to imagine what he must have felt when editing and recording this track. Clarence sadly passed away in June 2011.
'Grab your ticket and your suitcase. Thunder's rolling down this track. Well you don't know where you're goin' now, but you know you won't be back. Well darlin' if you're weary, lay your head upon my chest. We'll take what we can carry, and we'll leave behind the rest. Well, big wheels rolling through fields, where sunlight streams, meet me at the land of hope and dreams.'
Track Eleven - We Are Alive - 5.36
Max joins in on this track again on the drums. A moody start that livens up with an acoustic guitar and Bruce whistling. A nice little ditty to finish off the album. Again, it's not going to set the world alight but will be enough to satisfy us Bruce fans when we want to relax and chill. It reminds me of a spaghetti western with the banjo included and the whistling in the background. The trumpets give it that slight Mexican feel as well. This track really grows on you the more you listen to it.
'There's a cross up yonder up on Calvary Hill. There's a slip of blood on a silver knife. There's a graveyard kid down below, where at night the dead come to life. Well, above the stars they crackle in fire, a dead man's moon throws seven rings. Well, we'd put our ears to the cold grave stones, this is the song they'd sing: We are alive, and though our bodies lie alone here in the dark, our spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark, to stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.'
The album can be purchased with two bonus tracks 'Swallowed Up (in the Belly of the Whale) and 'American Land'.
As this is a review of the 'Limited Edition', this is the case.
Track Twelve - Swallowed Up (in the Belly of the Whale) - 5.28
Soozie, Pattie and Cliff Norell are again involved in this one and it is another track that offers little in way of 'rocking out' out and is more in tune with Bruce's direction at this moment. It has its moments as most tracks on the album do but it's not really one for me and too biblical again.
'I fell asleep on a dark and starlit sea, with nothing but the cloak of God's mercy over me. I come upon strange earth and a great black cave; I dreamt I awoke as if buried in my grave. We've been swallowed up, we've been swallowed up, disappeared from this world, we've been swallowed up.'
Track Thirteen - American land - 4.25
This track has been floating around on tour since the Seeger Sessions and for that reason I don't like it and knew I wouldn't. I had already heard it live and didn't like it but the album version is even more dire for me. The lyrics are Ok but again the folk element puts me off.
'What is this land of America, so many travel there? I'm going now while I'm still young, my darling meet me there. Wish me luck my lovely, I'll send for you when I can and we'll make our home in the American land.'
As an album 'Wrecking ball' is not too bad and I'm sure it will grow on me over time but it is nowhere near some of the past albums in terms of listenability and longevity. I think Bruce makes albums for himself these days and more power to him but I liked the Bruce that made music for his fans. I suppose that he, inevitably, had to slow down some day and as he gets older he is mellowing out into a folksier singer than a rock star. I didn't like the religious side to the album as I can't stand religion as it has high jacked the sanity of enough people as it is over the years and I can do without listening to music that preaches to a piece of fiction. Don't get me wrong, each to their own and I have nothing against people who are religious but it's not for me and I feel like shaking them out of it to do something real with their lives and talk to someone who answers back. The album is also a little too folksy for me and as I mentioned earlier I prefer Bruce's rock stuff even though I am a big fan of Nebraska and the acoustic side to his music. I think the folk sound comes from the Sessions band from the Seeger Sessions album, which I didn't really like, so that may be why I feel this way.As far as the album is concerned overall, it is a good effort but not one of his best in my opinion.
As someone who came to musical interest way back in the 1980s, I've always been aware of Bruce Springsteen. My musical awakening came at around the same time as his breakthrough into the ranks of stadium rock giants with his "Born in the U. S. A." album. As a big fan of soft rock at that time, his gruff vocal and decent lyrical hooks appealed to me. But there is far more to Springsteen than just fairly generic stadium rock and he proves that once more on "Wrecking Ball", proving also that his popularity isn't waning, with the album marking his 10th No 1 single on the U. S. album charts, more than 30 years after his first.
The opening track, "We Take Care of Our Own", reminds me very much of the first time I came across Springsteen's work. It's got the rousing chorus, a catchy riff and a driving drumbeat that all typify 1980s stadium rock. The lyrics themselves evoke "Born in the U. S. A." just as much as the music does and it's a great opening to the album.
There is, however, a complete change of direction for the second track, "Easy Money". It opens with a slow drumbeat and when the vocals and guitar kicks in, Springsteen's drawl makes the song sounds like a country track, particularly when the violin joins in later on. Even the guitar solo has a country feel to it, which comes as quite a surprise after the previous track, but as I'm a country music fan, I quite enjoyed this track.
Although being slightly more up-tempo, "Shackled and Drawn" contains many of the same musical influences, with the addition of a gospel sounding backing vocal. The country influence here is so strong, this is a song that John Denver could quite easily have recorded. Despite the title, the song is more upbeat and up-tempo than its predecessor and the regular drum beat does make it a good song to play if you're walking somewhere and for me as a country fan, it's an enjoyable track.
The piano introduction to "Jack of All Trades" virtually demands the opening to "You'll Never Walk Alone" sung over it. Springsteen doesn't do this, but at six minutes in length and with very little variation in tempo or sound until quite late on in this song, this does drag on a little. It's a nicely put together piano-led ballad, but it is a little dirge-like and it's only in the last minute where the guitar solo comes in and perks the song up a little, but by that point I'm bored of it and if I were the kind of person who skips onto the next track, I'd never get as far as that solo.
After the country and western influences of a couple of earlier tracks, there's an Irish sea shanty feel to "Death To My Hometown". It's got a very regular drumbeat, but the tin whistle and backing music give the song a jaunty feel that the lyrics don't quite match up with, which gives the song a slightly schizophrenic feel. However, it is a song that does get my foot tapping along, as I can't help but be caught up by the music on this one.
"This Depression" opens with another slow drumbeat, but this time it veers more towards the sound of "Jack of All Trades" rather than "Easy Money". Fortunately, it's a shorter and slightly more up-tempo song than the aforementioned, but this is another slow, plodding rock-pop number of the type that we know Springsteen can do so well (hence his Oscar win for "Streets of Philadelphia"), but which doesn't really go anywhere of note. Fortunately the guitar and backing vocals give the song more colour than "Jack of All Trades", but this is another song that doesn't stick out until it ends.
After a couple of country tracks and a couple of dirges, I certainly wasn't expecting "Wrecking Ball". It opens with an upbeat, up-tempo guitar riff which is retains throughout the song, alongside a strong, defiant lyric. It sits quite happily alongside "We Take Care of Our Own" in reflecting the 1980s stadium rock style; appropriately enough, given that the song is supposedly written as a tribute to the old Giants Stadium in New Jersey before it was demolished. I'm glad that this was the track selected to give the album the title, as it's my favourite on the album. Although the running time of the track is only about 10 seconds shorter than "Jack of All Trades", unlike that earlier track, "Wrecking Ball" never gets boring or outstays its welcome.
After the brash production on the previous track, the stripped down semi-acoustic guitar and vocal opening to "You've Got It" feels strangely out of place, but later in the track it expands a little as the piano kicks in and there's a blues sounding guitar before the horns come in and the song livens up. It's a down-tempo track, but feels quite laid back and chilled out, rather than the dirge like feel of a couple of the earlier tracks and it passes by very nicely indeed.
Even with all the differing influences on the album so far, the gospel-tinged opening to "Rocky Ground" is slightly unexpected. I don't recall Springsteen doing much in a gospel vein before, but as a fan of this type of music generally, I do like the track. The one part that did take the edge off it a little for me was the small rap by Michelle Moore, which was rather weak and reminiscent of the attempts by All Saints to do something similar on one of their earlier tracks. Fortunately, just after this is where the full gospel choir kicks in and gives the song a very smooth, relaxed ending.
The gospel and soul influence remains for "Land of Hope and Dreams", at least for the introduction and then the song kicks in with a stadium rock guitar and keyboard section that makes me think of Springsteen's "Glory Days", from the "Born in the U. S. A." album. This is a great stadium rock track and remind me of much older Springsteen, from the era when I first became aware of him and for that reason alone, it would stand out for me. There have been a lot of different sounds on this album, but this is one of the rare times that Springsteen sounds like the Springsteen I recall, even allowing for his distinctive vocal. This is another long track at nearly 7 minutes, but like "Wrecking Ball" it doesn't outstay its welcome and the sax solo is a fine farewell from Clarence Clemons, who passed away before the release of the album.
The standard version of the album comes to an end with "We Are Alive". It's another jaunty little opening, with just the vocal and acoustic guitar here again. However, once the music kicks in, it develops into another country influenced track, albeit a far more upbeat and up-tempo one than "Easy Money". There's also a Latin feel when the horn section comes in, which makes me think of the kind of Latin country feel of a group like The Mavericks.
The Deluxe version of the album comes with two bonus tracks, the first of which is "Swallowed Up (In the Belly of the Whale)", which evokes "Jack of All Trades" in that it drags past in a rather dirge-like fashion, being a stripped down down-tempo song with precious little variation. Lyrically, it follows a similar theme to "The Whale Has Swallowed Me", recently covered by Hugh Laurie, but musically it's far duller than that song.
The album ends with "American Land", which has another folk influence. The drum beat and the music kicks in to the Irish folk feel straight from the off and allied to Springsteen's gruff vocal, this sounds like it could have been recorded by The Pogues. It's a very jaunty and upbeat ending to the album and means I reach the end with my feet tapping along.
The deluxe version of the album also comes with a glossy booklet which has the lyrics, some great pictures of Springsteen not showing his age at all and a lovely tribute to the late Clarence Clemons. The one slight downside to this version is that thanks to the booklet, it's taller than the standard CD case, so it doesn't fit well on my CD shelves, but this is a minor concern for something so well produced.
For me, "Wrecking Ball" is an album of highs and lows and one which contains so many different influences, it's very hard to pin down. Overall, I quite like it, but it feels slightly unsteady as Springsteen moves from stadium rock, to country, to gospel, to folk, to dirge and it never quite settles down. That said, as I like the styles he uses here, it's not an album I mind listening to at all, aside from a couple of the duller tracks.
For a brand new copy, it's not really worth hunting down the deluxe version, as you're paying an extra couple of pounds for two extra tracks, one of which certainly isn't worth it. However, for a second hand copy from the Amazon Marketplace, the deluxe version is £7.04 against £6.59 for the normal version and the quality of the booklet is certainly worth the extra 45 pence. That said, given the slight patchiness of the album as a whole, it may be worth waiting for the price to come down a little further, unless you're a huge Springsteen fan who just can't wait to own his latest release.
This album released in March 2012 by the boss focuses on the disparity between what he believes the American dream was about and the way it has been twisted beyond all recognition by conservative war mongers and libertarian stock market dealers.
I quite like Bruce Springsteen, both for him being a lefty like me and his soulful voice and meaningful lyrics, and have a few of his other album's lying about the house from his greatest hits albums with all the big ones like " Bad Lands" and "Born in the USA" on it to the sublime "Born to Run" album and unhidden gems like "18 Tracks" which I personally think failed because of a rather uninspiring title for the album.
Let me just say I am not a fan of the artwork it makes it look like its by some young idealistic band with some immaturity as regards to pragmatic politics. In reality it should have been something more refined to recognise the quality of the work produced by an older head who is pragmatic.
1. We Take Care of our own, the first thing that strikes when you listen to this track is the guitar that sounds very driving and euphoric. The lyrics to me are about both how american's don't care about their fellow man and secondly how they don't even really care about each other.
Its like an American criticism of thatchers "There is no such thing as society" or the attitude of "as long as my own family is ok who cares about someone else's family".
We take care of our own reflects the selfish of not recognising how we are all interconnected and the continued repetition of it and then giving examples of how america is not actually looking after any one,such as hurricane Katrina, and is becoming a dysfunctional heartless society.
The line "Where the work to set us free" is a critique of the lack of state benefits for those who find themselves out of work to support their families with a call to arms against politicians and society blaming the unemployed for their position and not bad and unethical policy decisions which only benefit the wealthiest in society. ]
It is also an ironic line about Auschwitz "arbreit macht frie" and is comparing american policy with Nazism, it may not be putting a bullet in peoples heads directly but if your not supplying the means to eat, get water and a place to stay whilst you try to find work then its not a million miles away in results. Its a good song but not the best on the album in my opinion.
2. Easy Money.
I think this song is a little naff, and doesn't really have much of a purpose in comparison to the strong opening song. It has some nice choir singing in it however and some interesting musical accompaniment.
3. Shackled and Drawn:
This is a nice song and definitely a lot stronger that the previous song, which I admit I just skip when it comes on in my cd player but this one keeps my interest and a nice line about the bankers and casino stock brokers living the easy life whilst the average person just grinds away to support their family or themselves.
In a world were groups like "anonymous" quote the guff about them being "for everybody" its good to see some people believe in real politics and that the real enemies are the multinational companies exploiting the worker no matter what skin colour or religion or nationality they may be.
4. I'm a Jack Of all trades:
A pleasant song with some lovely strings accompanying the track and some reasonable lyrics, still not quite a totally outstanding workers song such as Christi Moor's " Viva la Quinta brigada" or Dick Guaghan's "The Workers song". It finishes off however with a truly sensational guitar solo.
5. Death to my hometown:
I don't know why but this song has got quite an "Irish Rebel" feel about it, I don't know what Bruce's lineage is but it definitely has that feel to it. Again its talking about the 1% rigging the system and abolishing investment in factories both private and public jobs being put on the sword of profit based capitalism and not "corporate social responsibility" based capitalism.
6. This Depresion:
Just a terribly boring song whose pace and tone just made me eventually give up trying to like it, luckily this song was the exception and not the rule for this album.
7. Wrecking Ball
A great song that seems to be about ageing and the passing of time, probably the best song on the album in my opinion and its nice how he's comparing life to a game. (although its been done before, you could say that about any topic and almost any metaphor).
Wrecking ball ln a literal sense refers to how a stadium were an american football team called the giants got knocked down to build a new one but the same happens with humans in a way with ageing and recreation.
8. You've got it:
Not such a great song in my opinion just a little slow again and after hearing it several times I still skip it. Just a simple song about a guy liking a girl and not a particularly remarkable one at that.
9. Rocky Ground:
A nice song that seems to allude to the solider in iraq and the line " we have been travelling over rocky ground" and again as in many Springsteen songs calls for Jesus to gather his flock who have become distant and distracted from his message of giving to one another in time,love and materials.
10. Land of Dreams:
Is is a song in my opinion about how death can bring freedom from the worries and oppression and injustices of the world, kind of like how Jesus said "whoever is rich in heaven will have nothing and he who had nothing will be rich in the kingdom of god", he's saying that not every one that dies is good and that every one has to answer for how they acted in life.
"Well, this train carries saints and sinners. This train carries losers and winners.
This train carries whores and gamblers. This train carries lost souls. I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted. This train, faith will be rewarded. This train, hear the steel wheels singing. This train, bells of freedom ringing."
A lovely song with a hopeful message but also a kind of sad indictment that we can't get the world right whilst we are alive, can't live in an egalitarian society.
11. We are Alive:
Draw's Errie comparisons between the 1877 railroad strike which started out of banking corruption and the biggest price was paid by the average person not the rich elite who had started it all, this time actually being killed directly. Ironically it perhaps reminds us that the american dream may have actually been strangled nearly as soon as it began, only 100 years after it was first conceived.
It is also perhaps a call for the present workers to also revolt and that the Spirit of 1877 should live on.
12. We've Been swallowed up:
Not really a bad song but just far too slow in my opinion to hold the listeners interest or captivate them like the other songs in this album.
13. American Land:
Just a great finish to the album and another that appears to be influence by Irish rebel songs. A great triple pronged assault on the corruption of the american dream , the naivety of those who thought coming to america would help them get a better life for them and their family and the anti-mexican immigration attitude in america in a country that was founded on immigrants. Although I also take the line " Their hands that built the country we're always trying to keep out" to also mean the working people more generally and how the elite are trying to exclude the average person from prosperity so they can live an even more lavish lifestyle than they already lead.
A great take on how people,to this day in america, are still dying of poor working conditions and inadequate wages to provide for a family.
Whilst it is not as good as born to run or his greatest hits album none the less the album has several very good songs on it with real meaning and emotion behind them, for any die hard or even casual fan of the boss this is a great album which will not be out of place in your collection.
Disclaimer this review is also on ciao under the same user name as I am the author of it on both sites!
Bruce Springsteen is the Boss!
Everyone knows who Springsteen is, don't they? Or perhaps it's just I'm married to one of his biggest fans!
Springsteen is an American singer-songwriter who also records and tours with the E-Street Band. Born back in September 1949, now aged 62 and still rocking like no other. Most people will know Springsteen for his albums Born in the U.S.A, or Born to Run, or recognize some of the tracks from these albums. Alot of people also know him for the song, Streets of Philadelphia featured in the amazing film Philadelphia. After an initial struggle for success, he is now one of the most influential artists and songwriters on the planet. He has gained much respect in the industry and has received a great number of awards. Springsteens fans cover many generations including my father, my husband, myself and my 3 year old son, who loves to jump around on the bed as my husband plays this album.
Wreaking Ball is the latest studio album from Springsteen, being his 17th studio album. The album features singles 'We take care of our own', 'Rocky Ground' and 'Death to my hometown'. The album also includes 3 track sthat had previously been released as live versions, these tracks are 'Wreaking Ball', 'American Land' and 'Land of hope and dreams'. The album went strraight to number one in the Uk and many other countries across the world. The album features 11 tracks, and there are also two bonus tracks on a specail edition.
1- We take care of our own
2- Easy money
3-Shakled and drawn
4-Jack of all trades
5-Death to my hometown
8-You're got it
10-Land of hope and dreams
11- We are alive
Bonus Tracks- Swallowed up (in the belly of the whale)
- American Land
This album is said to be Springsteen at his angriest, and I tend to agree. This for me isn't a bad thing, it provides real emotion and passionate lyrics. Springsteens vocals are unique, powerful and gritty. They only seem to get better with age. I feel this album is Springsteen back at his best. Wreaking Ball is a return to some of his earlier works, and is a bit darker than the previous few studio albums.
Wreaking Ball appears to me to be a response to the current state of the economy. Springsteens lyrics are powerful,and thought provoking, as he has dared to write/sing about things most artists wouldn't dare. It's a very rock and roll album but it has lots of twists in there as, the album covers every style from rock, folk-rock to even an almost gospel feel. A huge variety of instruments are also featured on the album, everything from guitars and drums to saxophones and trumpets.
Michelle Moore features on vocals on a couple of tracks, and it is these tracks that have that more gospel/church feel to them. Don't get me wrong though they still have that great Springsteen edge to them.
Tom Morello (Rage against the machine) features on tracks Jack of all trades, and This Depression. These tracks are a bit harder hitting, the have strong lyrics and are on the darker side of the album.
Throughout the album and the lyrics Springsteen does well to relate to the working class person, and doesn't give off his actual wealth and success. Its almost a protest album for the everyday man/woman.
One of my favourite lyrics from the album is from the track Jack of all trades, I feel it puts across quite well what has been happening in the economy lately. " The banker man grows fat, working man grows thin"
Although I loved the whole album, stand out tracks for me are,
Death of My Hometown- said to be a follow up to an older track My Hometown
Wreaking Ball- Album title track and one that you can't help but love as it gets stuck in your head, also love Springsteens vocal on this track.
This Depression- A dark yet fantastic written track, has Tom Morello on guitar.
Jack of All Trade- great lyrics
The album comes in a cardboard slipcase rather than plastic cd case. One side has the cd and the other a great booklet. The booklet has all the lyrics, some great pictures of Springsteen (I might add he doesn't look in his sixties), thanks yous, writing, production and musician credits. The book also features a tribute to late E-Street band memeber Clarence Clemons. The tribute is a must read. The tribute ends with "Clarence doesn't leave the E street band when he dies, he leaves when we do". I thought this was hard hitting yet had a sense of hope.
Overall this is another fantastic album from Springsteen and well worth a listen, not only for Springsteen fans but for new ones too.