Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#651 in the Series) is Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
The Boss is back and he’s an angry man!
I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d fully enjoy a new Springsteen album again. Much as I love the man and his music, recent efforts have left me fairly underwhelmed. But come on, it’s Bruce! He’s never going to entirely let me down and both Magic and Working on a Dream certainly have their moments. Some fine songs between them but in terms of putting out an album that was a great listen all the way through, well, I thought it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Which just shows how much I know…………..this is superb.
It gets off to a great start, “We Take Care Of Our Own” is muscular and ironic in equal measure. Like a previous, very famous song, it’s ripe for misinterpretation but listen closely and you’ll soon get the message:
“Where’re the hearts that run over with mercy / where’s the promise from sea to shining sea”
People are being let down by the very people that are supposed to be looking out for them. Again.
It’s an upbeat start and ‘Easy Money’ and “Shackled And Drawn” fly past, both excellent songs, the former has a Celtic/folky flavour, shared by a few tracks on the album actually. Apparently Bruce has been hanging with the Dropkick Murphys and, I’d guess, listening to a few old Pogues tunes. The latter song adds a blues/Gospel influence, again a strong song with a lyric which could sum up the ethos of the full album:
“Gambling man rolls the dice / working man pays the bill /it’s still fat and easy up on Bankers Hill”
“Jack Of All Trades” finally slows the pace, wonderfully. It’s a soulful number, the story of a man who’ll do whatever the hell he has to do to get his family through because things will get better. In time. Maybe a long time. Despite this he asserts :
“If I had me a gun I’d find the bastards and shoot em on sight.”
Told you Bruce was angry!
Look, I was intending to make this quick and only mention a few of the better songs but the more I’m playing it the better it gets. ‘Death To My Hometown” is like some bloody Irish rebel song, rollicking along with a fierce intensity, it kicks ass.
We’re halfway through now and there’s not a clunker in sight (or sound I should say!). “This Depression” slightly bucks that trend but it’s decent and for some reason I can imagine Emmylou Harris singing this one, seems like it would fit her style perfectly.
“You’ve Got It” is the first (and only) “love” song on the album, a pretty standard effort to be honest but it still manages to be better than at least half of his last album.
“Rocky Ground” is something of a departure, it starts with a sample then a tape loop kicks in followed by Michelle Moore singing the chorus. Bruce gets all biblical on us here and not for the last time. There’s also a rap thrown in as well. Hmmm. It’s a slow burning tune that doesn’t entirely convince to be honest. Yet.
“Land Of Hope And Dreams” also has a strong Gospel flavour, a kind of updated take on ‘This Train Bound For Glory” or “People Get Ready” maybe.Similar sentiments anyway.
Finally, “We Are Alive” arrives:
“There’s a cross up yonder on Calvary Hill.”
Bruce seems to be finding a lot of comfort in Gospel music lately. This one starts slowly but soon evolves into a banjo-led stomper. He seems to be channeling the spirit of a lot of people who helped shape America and make it the place it is. Or, in this context, the place it SHOULD be. It’s a fantastic finish to what’s turned out to be the man’s finest effort in a good while.
Is it a classic ? Well of course it’s too early to tell but i suspect not. It’s certainly near to the quality levels of The Rising and we’ll surely be hearing a lot of this one on the forthcoming tour.
Bruce is back. And he’s angry. And it’s helped him make some damn fine music.
The cover art is crap though!
– Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen
- We Take Care of Our Own 3:53
- Easy Money 3:36
- Shackled and Drawn 3:46
- Jack of All Trades 5:59
- Death to My Hometown 3:28
- This Depression 4:07
- Wrecking Ball 5:49
- You’ve Got It 3:48
- Rocky Ground 4:40
- Land of Hope and Dreams 6:58
- We Are Alive 5:36
- Bruce Springsteen – Banjo, Drums, Guitar Organ, Percussion, Piano, Vocals
- Tiffeny Andrews – Vocals
- Ron Aniello – Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
- Art Baron – Euphonium, Penny Whistle, Sousaphone, Tuba
- Lilly Brown – Vocals
- Kevin Buell – Drums, Guitar, Vocals
- Corinda Carford – Vocals
- Matt Chamberlain – Drums, Percussion
- Clarence Clemons – Saxophone
- Soloman Cobbs – Vocals
- Clark Gayton – Trombone
- Charlie Giordano – Accordion, Hammond B3, Piano
- Stan Harrison – Clarinet, Sax
- Steve Jordan – Percussion
- Rob Lebret – Guitar , Vocals
- Greg Leisz – Banjo, Lap Steel Guitar, Mandola
- Darrell Leonard – Trumpet
- Dan Levine – Euphonium, Horn
- Lisa Lowell – Vocals
- Ed Manion – Sax
- Cindy Mizelle – Vocals
- Michelle Moore – Vocals
- Tom Morello – Guitar
- Clif Norrell – Vocals
- Ross Petersen – Vocals
- Curt Ramm – Cornet, Trumpet
- Antoinette Savage – Vocals
- Patti Scialfa – Vocals
- Soozie Tyrell – Violin, Vocals
- Max Weinberg – Drums
Listen to Wrecking Ball below
Here are more New Release Reviews from 2012