This is the breakthrough solo album by Bruce Springsteen. Before this, he had a moderately successful solo career with some interesting albums, such as Born To Run, released back in 1975. Allegedly, Bruce Springsteen was having a difficult time coping with fame and success (as evidenced by his Nebraska album released in 1982), and he worked hard to deal with his own emotional issues. The result? This mammoth blockbuster album that was the highest selling album of his career, and had several top 10 chart singles in the U.S.A. This is the defining Bruce Springsteen moment, which has sold over 30 million copies globally. That says a lot. Let’s hear this album and see where it takes us.
Born In The U.S.A. is often misinterpreted as a patriotic song for those who live there. It is not. Having said that, this didn’t stop Ronald Reagan from using it as a campaign song during his presidential election campaign. Which is ironic as he didn’t understand the true meaning of the song. The song itself launches right into a catchy and weird sounding Synth Pop tune that sounds very hollered. It is difficult to get into at first but is nonetheless enjoyable for what it is. Regardless, this is a good song that although sounds incredibly dated today, does Rock well and sound good. There are pianos, clean guitars and other nice instrumental touches to make this tune come alive. Excellent music to hear, this has a neat breakdown in the middle, before the hollered vocals return. This is a very 1980s tune and probably could have had a few minutes shaved off it for good measure. Nonetheless, it’s good music to listen to. The extended outro has some awesome sounds to conclude, along with drum rolls, before launching into repeat sections. It’s very good.
Cover Me begins with some searing electric guitar leads, and piano and launches into a very good Pop/Rock piece that sounds excellent. This is proof of the consistency of the album and it does sound decent, catchy and worthwhile listening to. Although this is incredibly dated today, it does sound excellent. Bruce Springsteen had reached his peak here musically, even though this was the 1980s. A squealing and awesome guitar solo is present here as well. Bruce Springsteen’s hollered vocals are admittedly an acquired taste, but this is still a good listen. The guitar solos present here are excellent, and Bruce Springsteen sounds like he is in the right zone musically. A good listening experience from start to finish. It fades out nicely.
Darlington County begins with percussion and some Fender guitar riffs before drum beats enter nicely. Soon enough, this launches into a blissful tune that is catchy and melodic. An enjoyable and wonderful tune, this is a good song for those who enjoy rural life and storytelling as well. Some very Van Morrison styled harmonies enter after a while, and this is catchy, moving and brilliant. Nonetheless, for a lesser track, this sounds quite consistent and amazing. An interesting, awesome and excellent listen, this is a good example of the better side of the 1980s. A pretty saxophone solo enters, which is just gorgeous. The second half continues this awesome and interesting song that sounds really awesome. A great story and song that deserves to be heard, this sounds amazing and wonderful, particularly with the vocal harmonies, this is a winner. A great listen from start to finish, the outro is really cool. It fades out sweetly.
Working On The Highway begins with a retro drum beat and handclaps, quickly launching into a 1950s/1960s vibe styled tune, with Bruce Springsteen of course. Again, this tune is an essential listen and it does sound great throughout. A straightforward, excellent and enjoyable tune, there is a touch of keyboard here as well. A great listen for those who are working-class people, this does sound like a crowd chanting and foot stomping number. This isn’t a million miles away from the Stray Cats musically but is inimitable Bruce Springsteen throughout. Excellent tune for a three minute Pop/Rock piece.
Downbound Train follows with some decent and clean electric guitar playing, followed quickly by the band in succession. This is a lovely sounding piece, although Bruce Springsteen’s singing is somewhat of an acquired taste overall. A great listen from this album, once again, this is a modern day piece of poetry. This is really no surprise, given that Springsteen was influenced by Bob Dylan. In the middle is a bit of a breakdown with some heartfelt singing and keyboards only, which is really touching and cool. A sad listen to hear about missing a lover, this sounds close to the bone. A good listen regardless, this sounds quite good for a 1980s album. A great and concise piece of music. The outro is quite nice, too, with some nice drumming.
I’m On Fire begins with more typical 1980s keyboard sounds, a mid Fender guitar position sound and a good and cool melodic vocal from Bruce Springsteen. He sounds a little like Elvis Presley here, which is a bit odd. Nonetheless, this is a good song without drumming that sounds super mellow. A very cool and catchy listening experience about sexual gratification, this does sound like a classic album already by this point. Some nice harmonies are present in the outro as well. Good job dude. It fades out gently, again.
No Surrender begins with a nice kick drum before this song launches straight into it. Instantly this does sound glorious and amazing, with delicious harmonies to go. Bruce Springsteen sings deeply here, and this is yet another cut that does not disappoint. There is a big air of melancholy on this tune, and this indeed tune is a very moody listen. A good tune. In the second half are more harmonies that sound just awesome. This is a great song, and the music present does not disappoint. The lyrics deal with relationship issues, and it is a heartbreaking listen that makes sense to those who have had relationship issues in their time. Nonetheless, this works very well. A good piece of music. The harmonies at the end, again, are awesome.
Bobby Jean begins with a count in, before launching into a piano led ballad. This song is obviously a reference to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on the moonwalker’s Thriller album, which is fairly cynical in its own way. Regardless, this music here is original, decent and listenable all the same. It sounds rather dated today, but then again, this was released many decades ago. A good piece of music that still works well, this is proof of the genius of Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen sings emotionally and wonderfully, and is quickly followed by a pretty saxophone solo to go in the second half. The playing on this record is just fantastic. This fades out nicely, once again. Gorgeous.
I’m Goin’ Down begins with some Fender sounding guitars and other melodies, before a snappy drum beat emerges. Soon into it, Bruce Springsteen and company start singing and playing. Again, this song is about relationship issues, and this album oozes songs on this topic. There is another gorgeous saxophone solo near the middle of this song, which is brief. Bruce Springsteen sings about the toxic nature of love being lost over time. Nonetheless, this tune is excellent and works well. In the second half, the instrumentation is stripped bare for the most part, with some handclaps to go. The pianos then re-enter, and this song sounds pretty and pleasant, all the way through to the finish. Excellent work.
Glory Days begins with some Fender Telecaster styled sounds, before launching into a rather dated keyboard patch. Bruce Springsteen then begins singing with his inimitable holler, and he does so as someone discussing their early days of childhood. Hence the song title. All the same, this is musically excellent and accomplished here, even though again the music is very dated. Bruce Springsteen is an inspired and decent musician, and he does move one when listening to his music. A unique, excellent yet old school tune, this does deliver what it promises. There is a call-and-response vocal take in the lengthy outro, which could have been edited down a little. Regardless, this is okay but should have been shortened.
Dancing In The Dark sounds even more dated than earlier songs with its keyboard playing, muted guitars and reverberated drumbeat. Bruce Springsteen sings in his own inimitable way, and he makes some good songs here. Still, this is definitely an acquired taste for the most part. Bruce Springsteen does have some exceptional musical skill, even if this is a saturated retro album that has aged quite a bit. All the same, this music is good and it sounds very unique. A strange tune lyrically yet a dated listen musically. Regardless, this is okay, just not fantastic. There is another cool saxophone solo towards the end, which makes this song sound a little better. A good piece of music, but not a great piece of music.
My Hometown is the final track on this album. It begins with a moody keyboard and minimal percussion sounds. Bruce Springsteen gets singing away and delivers quite a heartfelt statement. It looks back to memories that one has indeed of their old hometown. This tune sounds very melancholy and mellow, yet very sad. It is a decent statement musically and finishes off a very good and inspired album that is worth hearing. The instrumentation of this song is fairly enjoyable. The song itself is a listenable piece of songcraft that really works well. The second half has some extra keyboards thrown into the mix as well. This sounds excellent, although it drags on a little bit. The extended outro sounds very pretty, and the album gradually comes to a close here.
This is a very good album that is frequently seen as Bruce Springsteen’s best. It is not. Born To Run was a better listen than this album. Despite saying that, it is a good set of songs that would have knocked some of the competition off the radar at the time. The main flaw is that this album suffers from the usual 1980s styled overkill of production that was such a big thing from that era. Still, these songs are good for what they are. Should you listen to this? Yes, especially if you liked Born To Run or need a good fix of nostalgia. Sadly, this was the last noteworthy album that Bruce Springsteen made.
Great tunes, dated production.