Sunday, 19 June 2011

The first two Springsteen albums - "I've broken all your windows and I've rammed through all your doors"

Joe writes: Bruce Springsteen released two albums before Born To Run broke him. Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ was recorded in a hurry but features some of his best songwriting. Blinded By The Light is his only US Hot 100 no. 1 as a songwriter, when covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. For You, which Manfred Mann also covered, is a prototype Thunder Road. But best of all is Growin' Up, once covered by Alvin Stardust. Here's some live footage of Bruce playing it on acoustic guitar, from 1972:

You don't hear many covers of songs from Bruce's second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, which saw him move away from conventional songwriting, presumably influenced by Astral Weeks. Normally I'm a "conventional songwriting" kind of person, but this is probably my favourite Bruce album (just as Astral Weeks is my favourite Van Morrison album). The magic comes when the jams eventually coalesce into hooks, as on the chorus of 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy). Or on Incident On 57th Street, when he sings "Goodnight, it's alright Jane". This song could be a companion piece to the Scorcese film Mean Streets and like Scorcese, Bruce was just warming up for what was to come. Amazing live version here (Bruce is one of the few artists for whom the recordings of the live versions are worth a listen alongside the studio recordings):

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