Friday, 1 June 2018

Bruce Springsteen - Magic (2007)

Pour me a drink Theresa....


Released September 2007

Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia

Running time 47:47


1. Radio Nowhere
2. You'll Be Comin' Down
3. Livin' In The Future
4. Your Own Worst Enemy
5. Gypsy Biker
6. Girls In Their Summer Clothes
7. I'll Work For Your Love
8. Magic
9. Last To Die
10. Long Walk Home
11. Devil's Arcade
12. Terry's Song                                                        

A strange album, this one. I rarely play it, yet the songs on it are potentially not so bad, they just never achieve what they could have done. This is largely due to the truly appalling, tinny, crashing sound employed by producer Brendan O’Brien. It renders the album virtually unlistenable. An example of this is on the album’s frantic, almost punky opener, Radio Nowhere - a good song spoiled by its bombastic production which almost drowns even a strong lead vocal like Springsteen’s. Many other songs are affected in the same way - Girls In Their Summer Clothes and I’ll Work For Your Love, in particular.

In terms of themes, the album is pretty morose, dealing with conflict, social problems and personal disillusion. Only the summery, romantic Girls In Their Summer Clothes and I’ll Work For Your Love raise the spirits slightly, but even these are narrated by a middle-aged Springsteen wistfully thinking back on the old days to a certain extent, from his position at the bar, while asking the barmaid for another shot.

The Last To Die, Gypsy Biker and Devil’s Arcade are covered in the dust of war and The Long Walk Home, Living In The Future, Magic and You’ll Be Comin’ Down all bemoan contemporary life in one way or another. Personally, I haven’t got a problem with someone who has become quite a wise man expressing his views, I just wish he would be backed by better sound quality, as he deserves. In many ways, all Springsteen’s albums have been blighted by one sound problem or another. If only his songs had Steely Dan-style production. Now there’s a thought...

Apparently, there were several logistical problems in getting the E St Band all together at any given time to record the album, so most parts were recorded individually and “pasted” together, so to speak. Knowing that now, it shows. There is certainly something half-baked and maybe a little incomplete about the material on here. As I said earlier, as if it hasn’t reached its potential. A sad thing about this recording, too, is that Clarence Clemons’ now all too infrequent saxophone solos are becoming increasingly, sadly, irrelevant.


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