Born to Run (1975)

1. Thunder Road 2. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out 3. Night 4. Backstreets 5. Born to Run 6. She's the One 7. Meeting Across the River 8. Jungleland


America finally woke up and noticed Bruce Springsteen on his third album. And it was about time. He somehow manages to improve on his first, albeit brilliant, two albums. It's not that this release is necessarily better than its predecessor, but it's handled quite differently. Something must have worked since he managed to get on the cover of Time and Newsweek the exact same week shortly after this album was released.

Whereas The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle was much more epic in style - almost a mini opera about young kids in blue collar industrial town, this one places much more focus on the individual songs. It's almost as if the kids from the last album decided to go to a show in an old American Legion Hall downtown, and the songs here represent the show where they were performed.

And what a show. Springsteen manages to actually have his music eclipse his lyrics on this album. And that's saying something considering the beauty of the storyteller that hasn't gone away. The lyrics are somewhat darker here, but not futile. The characters, whether they're living for Friday night on the streets in their hot rods in Night, emulating in the short lived excitement of a gang fight in Jungleland or becoming so frustrated with life in the town that the guys get's his girl and they just leave it all behind as in Thunder Road. The music is phenomenal. You could argue that this is his first real rock and roll record. The legendary E Street Band was now solidified with new additions Roy Bittan on keyboards and Max Weinberg on drums (neither would ever leave), and the music just sounds tighter and it's very obvious why these guys were considered the "best" backup band ever by so many people.

You could argue that the song Born to Run is the best thing he's ever done by itself. He set out to write the greatest rock and roll album of all time. If you insist he didn't succeed, you have to concede that he came pretty darn close. Songs like Tenth Avenue Freeze Out and She's the One pack an identical punch without getting moody as songs such as Meeting Across the River or Backstreets. Moodiness was his intention in those cases though, and he pulls those off quite well also. The whole damn album is pretty incredible and really belongs in any classic rock and roll collection.

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