Born To Run

Bruce Springsteen

Columbia Records, 1975

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Too often in Wisconsin, April is the cruelest month. While all across the nation most people get to enjoy the start of spring, here in Packer-Land spring starts in July, summer lasts about a week, then we skip right into winter. This year however has proved to be different; the sun has been shining and if I wanted to I could actually get a tan outside. With the gorgeous weather, driving around requires albums that rock, flat out and simple, albums that make you want to roll down your window and just belt out the lyrics at the top of your voice. If this is for you, I offer up Born To Run.

Bruce Springsteen's first two albums were decent efforts, that provided glimpses into the future for The Boss and the E Street Band. With Born To Run, Springsteen for the first time realized his potential, and crafted a no-holds barred, loud, sound that would define the rest of his career.

Jon Landau was the producer for Born To Run, but damn if it doesn't sound like Phil Spector was working the knobs. The "wall of sound" Spector utilized to great effect throughout his career is present here. Each tracks sounds as if the band just holed themselves up in a room and played. Springsteen's live shows are legendary, and while no record can perfectly encapsulate what the man can do onstage, Born To Run is as close to a "live studio" recording as you can get.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The two songs everyone knows, "Thunder Road" and "Born To Run" never fail to excite me. Both are filled with so much energy, and yet they are carried out with just enough restraint things don't get messy. "Born To Run" perfectly matches its lyrics to the music. Springsteen uses larger-than-life imagery to great effect, and backs it up with sound jam-packed with keyboards, guitars, horns, strings, you name it. The former track, "Thunder Road," goes with a different approach, beginning quite softly before gaining more and more momentum as the songs goes along. One would think it is ironic that an album of this nature starts out with the simple sounds of a piano and harmonica, however interesting of note is that Born To Run prominently features a keyboard sound, i.e. "Thunder Road," "Backstreets," "Meeting Across The River" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out."

Of course, there is much more to this album than the two hits. The massive epic "Jungleland" ventures off into jazz expressions, as does "Meeting Across The River." Horns add some punch to "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." "Night" and "Backstreets" follow in the vein of the title track. These tracks are all gold, however "She's The One" should take its place alongside "Thunder Road" and "Born To Run." It's not often Springsteen uses synthesizers, yet here they are used to great effect in the background. More importantly, they never overpower the rest of the song, which goes through multiple tempo changes itself. Springsteen himself delivers some excellent guitar work, and Clarence Clemons' soulful sax solo (when didn't this man churn out some amazing work?) and Max Weinberg's massive beat only help to seal the deal.

The Boss has always been a story teller, yet to be honest Born To Run doesn't even feature some of his best characters. Look to Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad for that. However, what Born To Run needed was not specifics. Instead, The Boss delivered wide, sweeping lyrics that give meaning to the sound he and the band crafted. When you listen to Born To Run, you don't want to think, you want to feel. Rock doesn't have to be smart, it should just make you feel something.

That something is truly the measure of a great album. On one level this is just a great rock album. On the other, it is a brilliant expression of a sound that not many besides Bruce have been able to pull off. This is what rock is supposed to be -- louder than hell, and in no way pretentious. The true rock musician doesn't have to spell out what he's saying, people will either just get it or they won't. Do you get Born To Run?

Rating: A-

User Rating: A



© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.