Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #86 Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.

At number 86 is Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen. It was released in 1984 to much critical acclaim and was the 7th album by The Boss.

I have to admit that I have never really got Bruce Springsteen, with my experience of his music limited to the singles and I’ve never been particularly impressed or interested. So I was looking forward to sitting down and concentrating on his best selling album.

When recorded, the lyrics were more positive than the previous album Nebraska and the sound ended up extremely radio friendly. The album cover is simple and iconic of course.

The album kicks off with the title track, a thumping rocker we all know that for me runs out of steam within a minute or so. Using the same melody over and over is dull. How, or why it’s drawn out to 4 and a half minutes baffles me. Of course, most people see it as a rousing anthem when it’s actually about the negative effects of the Vietnam War on Americans.

The second track, Cover me was written for Donna Summer and is an “up” pop rock song, but again, there are not enough ideas in there for my liking, but it’s an OK radio song.  The next two tracks Darlington County and Working on the highway sound like they took minutes to write and are forgettable.  I quite liked Downtown train solely for the atmosphere and lyrics.

The first example of original production is I’m on fire which stands out from the country rockers that precede it. But the next three tracks are pure filler and this is highlighted when you get to the finely written and produced Glory days. Despite the 1980’s drumming (where a single drum was required), it’s still pretty good.

When I got to Dancing in the dark, all I could picture was that cringingly embarrassing video starring Courtney Cox as the random girl Bruce plucks from the audience… honestly, purely random.  I don’t get this song; the synthesisers jar with the rest of the music.  The final track put me to sleep.

I know that I’m going against millions of dedicated fans, but I find Bruce’s music to be formulaic and obvious and this album has reinforced that view. I can take or leave it and the inoffensive production makes it something I can’t hate, but then again I’m never going to be craving any of the songs.

A classic album that just passes me by.

My rating: 5/10

Standout track: I’m on fire.

Listen to the album via Spotify here.

See the Top 100 here.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2014 by in music and tagged , , .

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