Album review: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Columbia)

I think Bruce Springsteen is a vampire, really.

Have you seen him on TV lately?  This man, simply refuses to age.  At 62 years old, he performs with a level of energy of someone half his age.  The current album, Wrecking Ball, has Springsteen back doing what he does best, spinning yarns about the working man, with the E-Street Band by his side in the dramatic/epic/anthem-like style that made him famous.  Forget about apple pie, baseball and Chevrolet, arguably nothing is more American these days than Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.  The photos on the albums inner sleeves show Springsteen holding his guitar up in triumph, Born to Run style and the first cut, “We Take Care of Our Own” is reminiscent of the early 80’s Big Bruce Sound, continuing with a dose of Americana mixed in on “Shackled and Drawn.”

Though Springsteen probably hasn’t had to sweat paying the mortgage for sometime now, he remains true to his roots as a middle class guy, with no lack of disdain for America’s bankers and what they’ve done to the working man.  His forlorn voice punctuates this as he sings, “”It’s still fat and easy up on Banker’s Hill. Up on Banker’s Hill, the party’s going strong – down here we’re shackled and drawn,” with a sparse arrangement that adds to the sorrow of a man with nothing left to look forward to.  Though the tempo picks up on the next track, “Death to My Hometown,” the mood does not, again speaking of a faceless enemy that “ate the flesh of everything they found.”

There’s no “Rosalita” on this record, folks, but it’s not as dark as Nebraska or The River. Morello’s guitar embellishes “Jack of All Trades” and “This Depression” adding an interesting texture to the record and picks up the pace ever so slightly, but this record is more a series of vignettes. The closest we have to a true Springsteen anthem is the title track. While we get the E-Street horns blazing, Springsteen remains hopelesss, telling us “hard times come and hard times go, just to come again.”  The record ends on a somber note, reminding fans of his Seeger Sessions work.  But who knows, if he continues to age at the current glacial pace, Springsteen will still be here, should things get prosperous again.

Buying the album in LP format is the clever choice, as a CD is included to easily burn to your music server or iTunes library.  Should you buy the CD alone, the sound quality is fairly compressed and flat, so if you have a turntable, the LP is definitely worth your while.  Mastered at Gateway by Bob Ludwig, the LP is an improvement in all areas: less compression with a more natural high end.

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  • Zephir says:

    From what I am reading this CD has sub-standard sound and although I still have a turntable it is not normally connected to my sound system. When will we be able to get great recordings like this in high quality digital formats like 24-bit FLAC? It is time for this capability to move into the mainstream!

  • Poul says:

    Totally agree! But who will be able to tell mr. Springsteen?y

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