Friday, 1 June 2018

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA (1984)


Released June 1984

Recorded at The Power Station, New York City

The big one, the one that, unfortunately for those of us that still viewed Springsteen as a "cult" artist, saw his albums sitting in the record collections of those whose only other albums were "Thriller", "Brother In Arms" and "Face Values". This horrified me. For this reason I have never had much time for this album. Somewhat unfair, I know. Even now, looking back on it, it is certainly no classic, by any means. It is simply twelve radio friendly rock songs of varying potency and quality. It is not the glory of “Born To Run”, the streetwise romance of “The Wild, The Innocent & The E St Shuffle”, the angry hopelessness of “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” or even the haunting “Nebraska”, by any stretch of the imagination. Not at all. For many, however, this was their first introduction to the wonderful artist that is Bruce Springsteen, and therefore it has a real emotional meaning for them. I understand that completely. For me, though, I was seven years down the line and viewed its appearance and almighty success somewhat differently. Just a personal thing.


1. Born In The USA
2. Cover Me
3. Darlington County
4. Working On The Highway
5. Downbound Train
6. I'm On Fire
7. No Surrender
8. Bobby Jean
9. I'm Goin' Down
10. Glory Days
11. Dancing In The Dark
12. My Hometown

After the acoustic bleakness of "Nebraska", Springsteen brought the E St. Band back to provide a full on backing, and a much fuller, richer one than the tinny sound of "The River". From the bombastic, anthemic but often totally misunderstood title track (the bottleneck blues original would have put the point over far more convincingly, with no ambiguity) to the rockabilly fun of "Working On The Highway" and "Darlington County" to the bleakness of "I'm On Fire" and "My Hometown", there is still some enjoyable stuff on here. My own personal favourite is the rousing "No Surrender" and the sax and piano singalong "Bobby Jean" has a Spectoresque/Clarence Clemons sax solo appeal, typical E St. Band. "Downbound Train" has a dark message to it, worthy of the "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album. 

However, two of its most popular tracks, "Dancing In The Dark" and "Glory Days" have never done much for me. The latter a somewhat embarrassing lament for days gone by that were probably never as glorious as the protagonist makes them sound. Neither have the rock-by-numbers tracks like "Cover Me" and "I'm Goin' Down”. For many, though, this is his best album, so who am I to disagree?

B- (for its commercial success, mainly)

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