Friday, October 26, 2007

The jury's in on Springsteen

For the record, I'm not a big fan of CD reviews.

Mainly because most "critics" are on deadline to get the review out before the general public can buy it. So they listen to it a few times and go with first impressions. But the truth is, it's the rare album that sounds great instantly. Most need some time to stew, to be heard, to find their place.

Such is the case with Magic - the latest offering by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Springsteen, like Bob Dylan, has reached an envious level in his career where, at least in the eyes of the critics, he can do no wrong. Merely putting out an original record means at least a four-star review. We should be thankful they're not endlessly issuing and reissuing Greatest Hits/Live/remastered collections of the back catalogue.

So there's little objectivity. And, again for the record, I just didn't like "Modern Times."

With "Magic," the reviews were in before the record had even hit stores. Rolling Stone gave it 5 stars - "Classic." I wasn't so sure. I'm a huge, huge Springsteen fan. But the man's made some bad records (Not as many as Dylan, but that's another column) - Tunnel of Love and the Peete Seeger Sessions come to mind.

But "Magic" is as good as advertised. This is vintage Springsteen. Straight up, working class rock. The opening track "Radio Nowhere" is easily the best single since Born in the USA. And the album succeeds not solely on Springsteen's lyrical gifts. The E Street Band are the real heroes on the record. Handcuffed by the genre-jumping on "The Rising," the band, especially Max Weinberg and Little Steven.

there are a few stumbling blocks (Girls in their Summer Clothes falls flat). But tracks like "Magic," "Long Walk Home," "Livin' in the Future" shine with the romantic sentiments, desperation and hope that will all this album to fit comfortably right alongside "The River" and "Born To Run" as Springsteen's best.

It's a masterpiece ... and I've taken the time to actually listen.