Friday, 1 June 2018
Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent & The E St Shuffle (1973)
Released November 1973
Recorded at 914 Sound Studios, New York City
For many people, myself included, this album, from 1973, is up there as one of their favourite Bruce Springsteen albums.
After the somewhat half-cooked debut of 1973's "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." This saw a bit of a shift from verbose Dylanesque semi-folky stuff to more wide-ranging influences creeping in - rock n roll, Phil Spector, Stax & Atlantic funk, Latin rhythms. However, Bruce still looks like a cross between Al Pacino's "Serpico and Gil Scott-Heron on the cover. I remember seeing this album as I leafed through albums in my local record shop as a teenager in 1974 and thinking it was a laid-back "hippy" rock album and dismissing it in favour of the pompadour/glamorous images displayed on the covers of albums by Bowie, Roxy Music and Cockney Rebel.
1. The E. St Shuffle
2. Sandy (4th Of July, Asbury Park)
3. Kitty's Back
4. Wild Billy's Circus Story
5. Incident On 57th Street
6. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
7. New York City Serenade
The first track "The E Street Shuffle" is a funky number, featuring wah-wah guitar, congas and a street soul feel. "Sandy" is a classic Springsteen dramatic ballad that evokes the boardwalk summer life of Asbury Park. Next up is "Kitty's Back" an extended piece of jazzy rock with a riff that surely Boz Scaggs "borrowed" on 1977's "Lido Shuffle". The album's oddity is "Wild Billy's Circus Story", a rather sad tale featuring various circus characters backed by bassist Garry Tallent playing the tuba.
The old "side two" is magnificent, possible best side of music Springsteen ever recorded. Three tracks flowing into each other - the street romance of "Incident 57th Street" between "Spanish Johnny" and "Puerto Rican Jane" two of those characters Springsteen delighted in creating in this era; then we get the tour de force that is "Rosalita", a frenetic, Latin-influenced stormer of a rock track that is still a concert favourite and then the jazz-tinged epic of "New York City Serenade". There is a fair case for the latter track being the finest piece of music Springsteen ever composed.
Just a pleasure from beginning to end. Well remastered by the experienced Bob Ludwig. Give me this over "Born In The USA" any day.