Monday, October 8, 2007

Glenn Liveblogs the New Bruce Springsteen Album

I had to tear off two layers of plastic to get to the case. And what a very shiny case it is. Open it up and it's one of those paper cases that encloses the CD in a flap on one side and the booklet in another flap on the other side. The image you see upon opening the case though is one of Bruce with the E Street band. It's a wonderful photo and, of course, I scanned it in.

Flipping through the booklet I actually cried out "It's so glossy!" And I love that Bruce includes lyrics. He knows his fans want to be able to not only sing along but to be able to read and digest the lyrics and get an understanding of what the album is about. There are some pictures of Bruce throughout and they all follow the cover design's theme of Bruce in a white tee looking momentarily confused - although in two he is wearing a black shirt. The diversity is insane.

Okay, so I'm putting in the CD now. Let's see how this goes.

1/0.12 - "Radio Nowhere". We all know this by now surely. I hope it's a good setting off point for the entire album. Has a Born in the USA vibe, which is a-okay with me.

1/2.10 - I love this guitar solo moment.

1/2.48 - "I just wanna feel some rhythm" this chant at the end is probably my favourite part of the song. Reminds me of the "It's alright" chant at the end of The Rising's "Lonesome Day"

2/0.02 - "You'll be Coming Down". Reminds me of "Lucky Town", from the album Lucky Town, right off the bat.

2/0.58 - Okay, it really reminds me of of "Lucky Town" now that it's at the chorus.

2/2.10 - Clarence Clemons! I've mentioned before how he is my favourite E Street member. Whenever he starts up that saxophone I just get all tingly (...)

2/3.00 - I think it's the bridge that really reminds me of "Lucky Town". It's got the exact same structure and progression.

3/0.01 - "Livin' in the Future" starts with more of Clarence's brilliant sax playing.

3/0.35 - Wow. This is a good one.

3/0.47 - Okay, new favourite!

3/1.22 - The chorus is amazing. And considering it's Bruce we're talking about here I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that he's singing about George W Bush, which is what I suspect.

3/1.40 - Okay, I just realised what song this reminds me of - "Cover Me" from Born in the USA, with a little bit of "Glory Days" thrown in. Musically, I mean. It's got the almost exact same guiter structure as "Cover Me" though. Perhaps he hadn't performed that song in quite a while and forgot about it? It's almost chord for chord.

3/3.38 - I always love a good "na na na na" fade out, don't you?

4/0.09 - Violins! "Your Own Worst Enemy" has a violins! I love violins.

4/0.30 - Lyrics like "yesterday the people were at ease" and "your own worst enemy has come to town" placed right next to each other? Is this another W Bush inspired song?

4/2.24 - No. I don't think so.

4/2.51 - Oh my, I just melted over the way Bruce sang those last two lines. "That flag it flew so high/It drifted into the sky" with a prolonged sort of semi-falsetto voice. Dreamy.

5/0.12 - "Gypsy Rider" starts off with Springsteens famous harmonica. The only artist who a) I can stand playing the harmonica and b) makes me wish harmonicas were used more in music. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't, really.

5/1.19 - This song is about Bruce's favourite topics. Misplaced men in America. It's not exactly anything off of The Rising or Born to Run, but I'm liking it. Probably my least favourite so far. But Bruce's "least" is most artists "career defining amazing best", so...

5/4.22 - Yeah... not the best, huh?

6/0.04 - And it's redeemed almost immediately by "Girls in Their Summer Clothes". Has a similar opening progression to "Lonesome Day", which is perhaps my fourth favourite Bruce song just by the way.

6/0.20 - Bruce's vocals have something different to them in this song. It sounds sort of amazing.

6/0.55 - This song doesn't remind me of anything except AMAZING!

6/1.19 - I am loving "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"!

6/2.09 - This bit is gonna be awesome live.

6/2.28 - This moment. This very second. Well, this and 2.29-2.33 is the highlight so far. Weird how five seconds can just be so magical. They sound like some 1950s motown group at this moment.

6/3.33 - New favourite!

6/3.43 - I always love a good "la la la la" fade out, don't you?

7/0.02 - "I'll Work For Your Love" starts with piano.

7/0.08 - For a moment there Bruce sounded exactly like he did in the '70s.

7/1.40 - Hmm. The lyrics on this one are a bit naff, don't you reckon?

7/2.35 - I think he was going for a romantic angle on this one, I'm thinking of "Tunnel of Love" with more guitars, but it's not working for me.

8/0.08 - "Magic" initially sounds like something from Devils & Dust.

8/1.13 - It's a minimalist song, which I'm liking. At this moment they introduced what sounds like the theme music to some spaghetti western or a movie set in a small Mexican town filled with drug lords and violence. ...?

8/2.17 - This is slowly working it's way into my brain, I can feel it. Like how the similar-sounding (but completely different themed) "Reno" did ("Reno" is now one of my all time favourites).

9/0.50 - "Last to Die" has a great up-tempo build up to the pace it's seems to be sticking with.

9/2.46 - This is a nice track, nothing particularly amazing, nor is it disappointing. It's what they call "quality filler".

9/3.47 - The above point is demonstrated now. I have nothing worthwhile to add, but I know it's not bad. I can deal with that.

10/0.16 - I'm not sure what it is about Bruce but he seems to have multiple voices. Like, they all sound very similar but if he puts just the tiniest bit more force or grunt behind it it becomes something else entirely. Case in point "Long Walk Home".

10/1.15 - Sounds like it belongs on The Rising, which is a good thing if I ever heard one.

10/2.20 - Oh Clarence!

10/4.07 - Great closing moments. This is the E Street, folks. "Long Walk Home" will be great live.

11/0.17 - Ooh. What an ethereal start to "Devil's Arcade"!

11/0.35 - Whoa.

11/1.20 - That low-bass guitar in the background is bliss.

11/2.13 - Oh! And it kicks in. Amazing.

11/3.22 - I can't quite pin point what it is that is so fan-fuckin-tastic about this song but it's... it's... holy jesus.

11/4.02 - It just keeps. getting. better.

11/4.49 - Now that was brilliant.

12/0.02 - Aww, "Terry's Song" is the final one! There's only four minutes and nine seconds of Magic left!

12/0.32 - Reminds me of "I Wish I Were Blind" from Human Touch. Slightly.

12/1.47 - This is a lovely little ode to (I assume) somebody called Terry who is "one of a kind". The album booklet says Terry (Terry Magovern) was Bruce's friend and working partner.

12/3.41 - I can't think of anything more appropriate to end Magic on that this wonderful song ending with some of Springsteen's great harmonica work going to fade out. I guess it ends the album on a bit of a downer (not quality wise though, thankfully).

Conclusion - Was there ever any doubt? I've only ever disliked one Bruce Springsteen album (of which I use the excuse "I'm not old enough to get it") so that I would like this one wasn't that hard to imagine. I'm actually quite glad that the album wasn't 12 tracks like "Radio Nowhere" (as amazing as it may be) and that he mixed it up. I love the stuff that Bruce comes up with when he's working with the E Street band. It all just sounds so layered and there's so much depth there.

As an artist Bruce Springsteen refuses to go away quietly. While many artists simple coast on their history (I'm looking at you Elton John) and have effectively stopped drinking (or smoking, in a lot of cases I imagine) whatever it was that made them so brilliant in the first place, Bruce continues to produce albums that you can easily slot high up in the list of personal favourites. With Magic, and I'm obviously going to be giving it plenty more spins over the next week, he has made some great songs - some incredibly fun songs to match the pulsating rock songs, which sit side-by-side with the more intimate ballads. It's a great record and one that I think will prove to be great on repeat, will be great live, and one that will satisfy the hardcore fan and casual listener alike.

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