Review : Bruce Springsteen - Born In The U.S.A.
AbsolutepunkBorn In The U.S.A., for better or worse, is Bruce Springsteen's most popular album. Released in 1984, the record defines the crest of 80s rock music done right. It's Springsteen's most immediately accessible and in some ways, captivating record. The departure from the sound of 1982's Nebraska couldn't be more significant, and is curious especially considering that most of Born In The U.S.A. was written at the same time as a lot of the darker songs on Nebraska.
The mantra in the Springsteen camp during the recording and producing of Born In The U.S.A. was to bring Springsteen and The E Street Band fully into the mainstream. It's an entire record full of singles and radio-ready, pop-infused rock and roll. Everything from the poppy dance lines on "Dancing In The Dark" to the cover of the album - a picture of Springsteen's backside in a pair of blue jeans in front of an American flag - was directed at bringing Springsteen to the largest amount of people possible.
The attempt was a monumental success. Born In The U.S.A. became Springsteen's most popular release, producing seven Top 10 singles, a statistic that ties the record for most all-time Top 10 singles on an album with another record you might have heard of - Michael Jackson's Thriller. Although it was released in June of 1984, it was the top-selling album in America in 1985, and was also the first release manufactured in the United States for distribution on compact discs - something that was new to America at the time.
The lyrical content on Born In The U.S.A. is hopeful and uplifting, perfectly complementing the mostly uptempo nature of the record. The album contains perhaps Springsteen's best ever recorded vocal performance, as his vocals soar over poppy music on most of the tracks on the record. Before people go around thinking that Springsteen "sold out" during this age, it's useful to tell a story behind the creation of the album. Springsteen's producer, Jon Landau, wanted an enormous hit to release to the public first. After much deliberation on the issue, Springsteen ended up penning "Dancing In The Dark," his most successful single ever....full text
80musicAn argument can easily be made that this is one of the best rock and roll albums of all time. In fact, maybe a viable argument could not even be made against that claim. Springsteen's versatility allows him to take on the plight of Vietnam veterans within a driving rock anthem on one tune and then tap into the glowing warmth of bittersweet nostalgia on another. In short, he exhibits some kind of otherworldly Midas touch in all the different things he dares to try on a rock and roll album....full text
BbcEast Berlin, 1988. Under a graphite sky, a familiar synthesizer riff echoes out over a vast arena. As a thundercrack snare drum underscores one of the most consistently spine-chilling intros ever, Bruce Springsteen, telecaster in hand, stares out toward half a million East Germans who've all started singing the chorus - before he's even begun the first verse.
500,000 Germans shouting "Born In The USA" in some huge-ass park in the late-eighties is plainly quite weird. But they're not American. They're not singing about being American, are they? Are they??
"Born In The USA", the title track of The Boss' mega-selling 1984 album, was much misunderstood. Accused at the same time of being repulsively nationalistic, and viciously Anti-American, the track was endorsed by conservative US politicians (including Ronald Reagan) as an exemplar of "classic American values" whilst the bitter lyrics actually tell the story of disaffected Vietnam veteran, chewed up and spat out by his own country:
'I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms'
Fire up YouTube and watch John Sayles' music video for the track. The killer punch comes near the end where you see the smiling veteran with a hole where his left eye should be.
Despite the poor sync between the video and audio, Springsteen's leather-clad delivery is scarily fierce. Heard alongside the visuals of Bruce spitting the hopeless verses, the song is revealed as far more than a knuckleheaded, jingoistic sing-a-long. It's a ragged-lunged hymn to long gone friends, a treacherous government, a stupid war, having no job, but f*** it, letís shout the chorus until we cough up our lungs....full text
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