Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

December 22, 2012

Bruce Springsteen ~ Born In The U.S.A.

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Style: Americana, folk-rock
Label: Columbia
Year: 1984
Home: New Jersey

Members: Bruce Springsteen ~ lead vocals/guitars
Roy Bittan ~ keyboards
Clarence Clemons ~ saxophone/percussion
Danny Federici ~ keyboards/glockenspiel
Garry Tallent ~ bass
Steven Van Zandt ~ acoustic guitar/mandolin/b. vocals
Max Weinberg ~ drums

Additional: Richie Rosenberg, Ruth Davis ~ b. vocals

I was just talking with someone the other day about which classic rocker was aging the best & maybe even looking a bit younger & better in some backwards logic way. No, Madonna is not the one who tops my list even if she has reinvented what it means to be a middle-aged woman. The Boss from Jersey is actually my top choice ... David Lee Roth is up there too, if you're wondering. Certainly the lack of drugs has helped, but he's grown into himself in a way that puts his once rough younger self to immature shame. He's no longer the angry bar hound but a storyteller along the lines of Bob Dylan. He always was but today we expect from him a personal story over a flashy stage show. It also helps that his music has aged as well as he has & his new music just as good as ever, maybe at times better. Though, really, in hindsight, there's something funny & very un-aging well about a song about being born in the great U.S.A. that features tinkling Wham!-esque keyboards & no guitar solo. It seems very un-American, particularly for hard rocking 1984. Musically this is not the album I remember or even want to remember. It's too pop & certainly BS remarked at the time how pop he had gone. I remember something that rocked harder & not so dated & certainly not with such a keyboard heavy sound or at least a production that favored the Foreigner feel. But, really, this is a storyteller's album & that's how it should be graded as the music is really just a background to something bigger. So often the lyrics are a background to the music. That being said, the talk in the title track about a Viet Vet certainly reminds me of my youth when such things mattered, but now they are just passing lines of nostalgia as relevant as talking about the Southern Reconstruction or the Spanish Civil War or maybe even Desert Storm. How different would the title track be if written today? It certainly wouldn't be about a Viet Vet. I might be more angry sounding, though I don't know if it would sound as enjoyable & almost unpretentious. Perhaps, the whole album would be far more angry if made in today's America. Definetly, it would probably have far more guitar solos than sax solos & far less keyboards, which lace too much of the album for its own good. It's in the strength of the lyrics that we forget the weakness of the sound. It's an album of characters, who happen to live in the U.S.A., & those characters are very much living & breathing as much as any lyricist could want. In many ways, we may even make this album greater than it is ... considering the previous albums might be more interestingly musically & what came afterwards was a bit of a disappointment in comparison ... the magic is that these characters are much more humble in some ways than those characters that had come before. Before they were definetly angry young men, but here they've matured, still angry but can handle themselves better through the ups & downs. His kids before might have been disillusioned, but now they can deal with it in a way that doesn't cause the trouble they'd skirted with at the edge of town. Though, the pop sensibility of this album, this was BS's first work with synthesizers, masks a bit of the agony they still feel. Ironically, most of the album would be recorded before the very different & rawer sounding Nebraska. Given that Nebraska ended up being a release of demos, this new pop yet mature BS is almost an accident that it came to come together so cohesively versus a track here or there as it had been originally written. That might be what really makes it special, the fact that its an accident & not a grand scheme to create some great album of the era, even if the joke was on the conservatives in the end.

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