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The Bruce Springsteen - The Wild Innocent... Album Cover

The Bruce Springsteen - The Wild Innocent...

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9.8
Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Release Date: September 11, 1973
Record Label: Columbia
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
With Columbia Records disappointed at the result of Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., there was only one thing for Bruce Springsteen to do - give it another chance. So what did he do? He wrote, recorded and released an entire record in less than a year. Even less than less than a year, if that makes sense. Greetings was released on Jan. 5, 1973. The Wild, The Innocent& The E Street Shuffle came out barely seven months later - on Sep. 11, 1973.

Perhaps more impressive than the short turnaround is the quantum leap between the two records. Shuffle is more rock'n'roll while at the same time being more funky, the lyricism is improved to an exponential power, and it is the recorded debut of Springsteen's E Street Band. An interesting point is that when Springsteen started off, he signed a contract with Columbia Records for Bruce Springsteen - no E Street Band existed for quite a while. Even on Shuffle, only three members of the E Street Band would continue on to work with The Boss for his entire career.

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle bore what at the time was a nauseating amount of resemblances to Greetings. It was received even more warmly by critics than its predecessor, but it was equally as much of an atomic explosion on the Billboard charts. Only after Springsteen released Born To Run did choice cuts from this record end up seeing some love on FM radio. When you break down Shuffle, the first thing you notice is that it seems short - it only has seven songs. But holy macaroni, are they a solid group of songs. And if you were worried about the shortness of the record, worry no longer; those seven songs total to over 45 minutes of the sexiest rock music ever made.

This record was the spark for Springsteen's rise to fame. Although he was only seven months older than he was when he released his first record, Springsteen grew up a lot in that time, and it is reflected by his lyricism. What listeners will encounter on this record is poetry - equal parts witty and clever as it is deep and complex. There are full-length stories in play here, which partially explains the lengthiness of each track. Opener "The E Street Shuffle" introduces listeners to a host of characters who supposedly live on E Street. We identify with future heroes and heroines and with the oppressive nature of the police, who, along with many characters on this record, return in glorious form (and in different names) on Born To Run. The depth of the characters and storylines is something that not many will be able to understand, and after countless listens to this record and Born To Run, is not something I claim to have familiarized myself with completely. To describe Springsteen's poetry on Shuffle is not something that can be done in a review, but might be better accomplished in a series of lengthy encyclopedias.

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Kitty's Back" are two opposite sides to a similar story. The former is a happy-go-lucky love ballad, with bright imagery of fireworks on the boardwalk and music to match. Meanwhile, the latter is a more jam-based jazzy track that introduces us to the bad part of town. "Kitty's Back" has gone on to become an absolutely ridiculous song at live performances, with renditions that run up to 20 minutes in length. "Wild Billy's Circus Story" is a track that unfortunately gets overshadowed as the last track on Side A of Shuffle, but things don't disappoint when you flip the record over. "Incident On 57th Street" is a song that would be a beacon in many artist's catalogs, but struggles to even shine as the brightest song on this record. A piercing piano part begins the track and leads into a wailing guitar line, as Springsteen tells us a story about Spanish Johnny and Puerto Rican Jane.

"Incident on 57th Street" is a song I would urge every single fan of music to listen to, especially since it leads right into one of Springsteen's most famed songs of all time in "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)." The song is noted for being on a particularly important list compiled by the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll." The song is high-powered and adrenaline-filled from the very first guitar line to Clarence Clemons' saxophone bits that will stay in your head forever. The slower-tempo, sprawling "New York City Serenade" follows "Rosalita" and serves as the album's closer, a song that is much more impressive live than it is on the record. But the 10-minute album version isn't a slouch either, as it sees a multitude of time changes to accompany a hodgepodge of stories that have never made any sense to me whatsoever.

The only reason The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle isn't considered Springsteen's best record is because he made Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town right after it. It's a real pain when I listen to this album and want to call it the best album ever written, only to remember it's my third-favorite album by this specific artist. It's an essential listen for any fan of rock and roll just because of its historical impact, and it's a record that will forever hold its place as the album that shaped Springsteen the most. Shuffle and Greetings, while not so similar in direct comparison, served one very important combined role - they led to the creation of perhaps the most monumental rock and roll album of all time.

Notable Fact: Ranked No. 132 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Recommended If You LikeRock and roll music, that's all.
Follow Me On TwitterTeenage tramps in skin-tight pants do the E Street Dance and everything is alright.
Bare Essentials1. The E Street Shuffle
2. Fourth Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
3. Kitty's Back
4. Wild Billy's Circus Story
5. Incident on 57th Street
6. Rosalita
7. New York City Serenade
Produced By: Mike Appel, Run Time: 47 minutes
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
 
Displaying posts 1 - 12 of 12
01:00 PM on 05/09/11
#2
georgedcc
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Rosalita is probably my favourite Springsteen song of all time.
01:46 PM on 05/09/11
#3
cshadows2887
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It's not better, but this album is as good as Born to Run. He'd never even attempt this kind of loose, free-wheeling, genre-busting stuff again. It's at turns funky, jazzy, contemplative, romantic, brash, sweeping and sad. Nobody else in music was capable of something like this. The second side of the original album is a suite on par with Beethoven, if you ask me.

Also, peep the Van influence again on "New York City Serenade" and "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)." That opening lead guitar and the way a multitude of instruments kinda sneak in and out is so Astral Weeks. But then in "Serenade" there's that "no she won't take that train" bit that's borderline gospel rave-up, because just one genre isn't enough on this album.

Born to Run is one of the most brilliantly crafted records ever, but this one was him at his most blindingly visionary.
02:39 PM on 05/09/11
#4
harley7733
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Rosalita may be the coolest song ever fucking written.
02:49 PM on 05/09/11
#5
Thomas Nassiff
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It's not better, but this album is as good as Born to Run. He'd never even attempt this kind of loose, free-wheeling, genre-busting stuff again. It's at turns funky, jazzy, contemplative, romantic, brash, sweeping and sad. Nobody else in music was capable of something like this. The second side of the original album is a suite on par with Beethoven, if you ask me.

Also, peep the Van influence again on "New York City Serenade" and "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)." That opening lead guitar and the way a multitude of instruments kinda sneak in and out is so Astral Weeks. But then in "Serenade" there's that "no she won't take that train" bit that's borderline gospel rave-up, because just one genre isn't enough on this album.

Born to Run is one of the most brilliantly crafted records ever, but this one was him at his most blindingly visionary.
I agree with this. There's no real genre to this record, which is why I just call it sexy.
04:46 PM on 05/09/11
#6
Matt Chylak
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I think Sandy is my favorite Springsteen song. the fireworks shine through on the song
07:30 PM on 05/09/11
#7
iancat87
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My favorite of all the Springsteen albums. There are no loose ends on this one, it's totally complete.
08:46 AM on 05/10/11
#8
Craig Manning
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It's not better, but this album is as good as Born to Run. He'd never even attempt this kind of loose, free-wheeling, genre-busting stuff again. It's at turns funky, jazzy, contemplative, romantic, brash, sweeping and sad. Nobody else in music was capable of something like this. The second side of the original album is a suite on par with Beethoven, if you ask me.

Also, peep the Van influence again on "New York City Serenade" and "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)." That opening lead guitar and the way a multitude of instruments kinda sneak in and out is so Astral Weeks. But then in "Serenade" there's that "no she won't take that train" bit that's borderline gospel rave-up, because just one genre isn't enough on this album.

Born to Run is one of the most brilliantly crafted records ever, but this one was him at his most blindingly visionary.

I don't think it's as good, but it's as close as he got, objectively, even though it probably isn't my second favorite record of his. Then again, things don't get much more perfect than side 2 of this record.

I think Sandy is my favorite Springsteen song. the fireworks shine through on the song

Perfect summer night song.

My favorite of all the Springsteen albums. There are no loose ends on this one, it's totally complete.

And there are loose ends on Born to Run?
10:27 AM on 05/10/11
#9
iancat87
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And there are loose ends on Born to Run?

I've always felt that "Night" was kind of the odd man out in the set. The record has the one-two punch of "Thunder Road" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and "Night" has a hard time living up to that. Then, from "Backstreets" on out, the album's perfect. "Night" is good, but man it just doesn't compare to the rest of the album.
11:49 AM on 05/10/11
Craig Manning
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I've always felt that "Night" was kind of the odd man out in the set. The record has the one-two punch of "Thunder Road" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and "Night" has a hard time living up to that. Then, from "Backstreets" on out, the album's perfect. "Night" is good, but man it just doesn't compare to the rest of the album.
Night is a great, great song. Probably the weakest song on the album, but the other day when I was listening, I was loving that song, and found myself laughing and thinking to myself "and THIS is the worst song on the album!" I'd probably take Night over most of side one of The Wild, The Innocent, though, especially Wild Billy's Circus Story, which has always been this album's big weak point to me.
07:47 PM on 05/10/11
iancat87
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Night is a great, great song. Probably the weakest song on the album, but the other day when I was listening, I was loving that song, and found myself laughing and thinking to myself "and THIS is the worst song on the album!" I'd probably take Night over most of side one of The Wild, The Innocent, though, especially Wild Billy's Circus Story, which has always been this album's big weak point to me.
Yeah "Wild Billy's Circus Story" seemed to be a weak point for me for a while, but then it really hit me one day. I really love his vocal on it, and the lyrics kinda got me too, even the arrangement -- especially when the mandolin comes in. He captures these great colors of sound in that song, as well as everything else on E Street Shuffle. I don't know what it is exactly, but that album just speaks to me on a level I can't really explain.

Don't get me wrong though -- Born to Run is still one of the best things ever. I first heard it in summer. I used to blast "Thunder Road" driving like a maniac down 95 with the windows down just screaming the words. That shit means the world to me.

But, once I heard E Street Shuffle, I was completely captured by this whole other essence...
08:03 PM on 05/10/11
Craig Manning
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Yeah "Wild Billy's Circus Story" seemed to be a weak point for me for a while, but then it really hit me one day. I really love his vocal on it, and the lyrics kinda got me too, even the arrangement -- especially when the mandolin comes in. He captures these great colors of sound in that song, as well as everything else on E Street Shuffle. I don't know what it is exactly, but that album just speaks to me on a level I can't really explain.

Don't get me wrong though -- Born to Run is still one of the best things ever. I first heard it in summer. I used to blast "Thunder Road" driving like a maniac down 95 with the windows down just screaming the words. That shit means the world to me.

But, once I heard E Street Shuffle, I was completely captured by this whole other essence...
One thing is for sure: they're two of the best summer albums ever. Similar story for me on Born to Run: fell in love with it halfway through my senior year of high school, and Thunder Road quickly skyrocketed to the top of my favorite songs list. When I graduated and got to the summer that followed, that record just immortalized itself for me.

E-Street Shuffle isn't as personal for me as a whole (though Sandy and Rosalita are both among my absolute favorite Springsteen songs), but it's still a record I love, and one of the few I use to inaugurate a new summer each year. That said, it's never felt as much like an album as Born to Run has to me, and I think that's largely because I'm not a big fan of Wild Billy's Circus Story, and don't think it's at the right spot on the record. And all told, I probably have more of a personal connection with Darkness and The River, in addition to Born to Run, putting this at number 4 in his discography for me. Still a top 30 all time album for me though.

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