Human Touch (1992)

Lucky Town (1992)

Human Touch 1. Human Touch 2. Soul Driver 3. 57 Channels (and Nothin' On) 4. Cross My Heart 5. Gloria's Eyes 6. With Every Wish 7. Roll of the Dice 8. Real World 9. All or Nothin' at All 10.Man's Job 11.I Wish I Were Blind 12.The Long Goodbye 13.Real Man 14.Pony Boy Lucky Town 1. Better Days 2. Lucky Town 3. Local Hero 4. If I Should Fall Behind 5. Leap of Faith 6. The Big Muddy 7. Living Proof 8. Book of Dreams 9. Souls of the Departed 10.My Beautiful Reward


I'm reviewing both of these albums at the same time because a) they were released on the exact same day, and b) unlike some devotees and audiologists, I can't really tell that much difference between the two of these records. The album artwork is even similar, and I really can't figure out, when putting these two albums together, why Springsteen might say "hmmmmm.....this song should go on this album instead of..." From what I understand, his original intention was just one album, but when he went back in the studio for an extra song or two and to make some minor tweaks, he ended up recording enough songs for an entire "extra" album. Not that this should surprise anyone who is familiar with him. This guy was famous for writing and recording far more material than he could possibly release, and he still has masses of unreleased stuff in the vaults. So it seems ironic that when he does treat the fans to extra songs, such as he does here, people bitch and moan about the quality of the tunes, the production, etc. etc.

This was probably the coldest received release (or pair of releases) that this man had ever endured, at least at the particular. The E Street Band was just a memory, and he had "deserted" New Jersey for California and this album (sorry, "albums") clearly show this in the songs. You could say that these were "experimental" in their nature, but to be honest, I don't hear too much difference in terms of style from the last one, Tunnel of Love. The main difference is, well, you can find some filler on these releases. Not too big of a deal, right? But remember, this man never had filler on any of his albums. So the argument was something like "why he couldn't have just made this into one good album?" OK. sure. But no one can ever come to a consensus as to what exactly should be kept and what should be left off when you make arguments like that.

The "Human Touch" album was the "intentional" album. There's a little bit more polish, it's a tad more "produced" and sounds like more time was devoted to it. The "Lucky Town" album sounds more spontaneous and doesn't have quite as many musical enhancements throughout. Ironically, you could argue the latter is a bit better. Who needs all those synthesizers and bells and whistles? Especially on a Springsteen album. Remember, this was the guy who pulled off an entire album (Nebraska) of "demos", so his strength was in the songs themselves, not how the final product necessarily comes across with enhancements. That's a big compliment by the way.

"Human Touch" stumbles a bit out of the gate. The opening title track is nice enough, but it's not really anything special, and it gets slightly old after enduring the tune for six and-a-half minutes. Things don't get any better with Soul Driver which gets my vote for the worst song on the album. Actually second worst. The worst is the next song 57 Channels (and Nothin' On). Any Springsteen song about a satellite TV in a "bourgeoise house in the Hollywood Hills" isn't going to resonate well with me. He recovers quickly though. The "middle" of the album is very strong. OK, nothing sounds like the E Street Band, but it all sounds like Springsteen. He falters near the end as well with the monotonous Real Man and the pointless Pony Boy.

"Lucky Town", at only 10 songs and 2/3 the length of its counterpart, is a little easier to enjoy because it doesn't seem quite as bogged down with "too much" music. Unlike the other one, he puts his strongest stuff at the beginning of this album, which makes the package more appealing. Tracks like Better Days, Local Hero and If I Should Fall Behind are arguably the best songs on either of these albums. To be fair, this one has a bit of filler as well. Maybe not by the strictest definition, but by the time we get to Leap of Faith and Book of Dreams, we can't help but think we've heard these songs, to some degree, already somewhere on these two packages.

So, yes, he took a lot of flak for these. He went on tour to support these records without the E Street Band, and some fans were like "Well, what's the point?" It was a shame because it was a great tour and he seemed to really be enjoying himself. Although no one knew it at the time, he would soon get back with the E Street Band, and everyone sighed a breath of relief (well, almost everyone. People still find reasons to gripe. More on that in later reviews).

He was no longer immortal.

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