Great reviews from both of you guys. I always tell people that Greetings is in my top 5 Bruce albums and they look at me like I'm crazy. But I genuinely believe that with better production and a more constant E-Street band behind him instead of random musicians on this song and that song, this could've been viewed a heck of a lot better by Bruce fans.
The wordplay on this album is phenomenal. Do you know how hard it is to write in line rhyme after in line rhyme and still have it sound good? Extremely difficult. And then there is the aforementioned "Key to the Universe" line which is one of my all time favorite Bruce lyrics. This album was the precursor to the special things to come in his career, but I don't think it plays second fiddle to them.
If you haven't heard a bootleg of that Buffalo show where he played this in full, it's one of the more essential Bruce live shows in recent memory. Gives a sense of what the album would sound like if it were recorded now.
Great write up guys, knew you'd both do a good job with Bruce!
Blinded by The Light is one of my favourite Bruce songs, I love it so much, it's such a fun and the images he creates in that song are lovely, "And some kidnapped handicap was complaining that he caught the clap from some mousetrap he bought last night". Fantastic line, but the whole song is full of gems.
However, I'd agree with Craig when he says that Spirit and Blinded are the only tracks that don't feel dated. They're also the only songs on here that are 'top-tier' Springsteen and as good as anything else he would write. That's not to say that the rest of the album is full of duds or anything, but those two stand head and shoulder above the rest. I know when making the album, it was made as cheap as possible, which is pretty apparent in the production and the general 'rushed' feel of the album. It's a great album overall, but isn't as fantastic as the six that follow it are.
I'd say "Growin' Up" is top tier as well, but the dated production is definitely still evident on that one. Wonder what changed when they went back to record more that made everything sound so much more alive.
Chris, you singled out the best line in "Growin' Up." Always been one of my favorite lines in his career.
This is an excellent write-up. For my money, easily the best you two have done thusfar.
I will contest however that there's a charm in the minimal production. It's the one album Bruce ever made where he was just another singer-songwriter. His next two were fueled by desperation to match huge hype, and everything after that came in the shadow of being a messianic figure for rock music, but this one time, he got to just cut a record. And I love it for that reason.
I think it's the best we've done so far too. So thanks, I appreciate the compliment.
You make a good point. I think he tried to go back to being "just another singer songwriter" in the 90s, but it didn't quite work. Glad he's embraced the rock 'n' roll hero thing in the last 10 or 15 years.
I will point out that we said "renowned classics and unheralded gems alike." This particular album is in between, and actually, among Springsteen fans, it is pretty unheralded. There's been a lot of talk around here over the years about Born to Run or Nebraska, but I don't think I've ever had an in depth conversation with someone about Greetings until now, so there's that.
But if there's something you'd like to see from these columns, by all means, throw it out there.
Even "Wild Billy" has grown on me with time. Dat tuba.
Yeah, it's definitely a grower. There are some really lovely instrumental flourishes on there. It's just that it has the unenviable task of leading into what is arguably the single greatest side of any record ever recorded.
This is a surprisingly fantastic write-up. Extremely well done. This is in my Top 5 favorite Bruce records for sure, and it's largely because of the albums opening one-two punch. Bruce has a penchant for creating opening knock-outs, and though he'd only get better at it, this is a near perfect start to a near perfect career. Like everyone else, my major qualms are about how the album was produced.
For anyone seriously interested, I would also recommend Peter Ames Carlin's fantastic biography Bruce, which spends a lot of time talking about the inception of this record. Not only was Bruce given an unsatisfactory studio to work in, but he was also really reared into doing what the producers and label wanted, and not what he wanted to do as an artist. A big reason that some of these songs sound so sparse is because Bruce was restricted to playing only one guitar track for a large majority of the tracks. If you compare that style to the Spector-influenced Wall of Sound aesthetic used on Born to Run, there's really no wonder why the songs sound empty or lacking.
But anyway, I cannot emphasize my love for this album enough. "Blinded By the Light" grooves in all the right ways and Bruce's tongue twister lyrics are luminary and hilarious, "Growin' Up" is a come-of-age song for the record books, "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? " jangles along like the world's most pleasantly bouncy ride on a city bus, and "For You" is a sprawling heartbreaker that showcases Bruce's voice in all the right ways. He may not be the most tuneful singer, but you feel the wait of every single word, and that's A LOT of words. Not to beat a dead horse either, but "Spirit in the Night" sounds like mission statement for the E Street Band, a swaggering, sultry mix of R&B and jazz combined with that distinctive Jersey sensibility.
This album is the stirring of a genius and definitely gets overlooked in conversations about the Boss' catalogue. Nice work guys!
I really, really enjoyed that biography by Carlin. The reviews I read beforehand we kind of mixed, but I don't really see what the qualms were with the book. A lot of great stuff in there: the story about knocking the speaker over on the cop was fucking priceless.
But thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for Wild.
Haha almost mentioned that in my bit. Funnily enough, while I don't dig the solo songs on Greetings as much, I like "For You" more as a solo number.
Have you guys ever heard any of the live shows he did for the Devils & Dust tour? Took a bunch of his older songs and re-purposed them as solo acoustic/B3 organ/piano songs. I've got an absolutely killer bootleg from that tour that I'd love to share.
Dude, the second disc of that shit has "Back Streets", "Don't Look Back", "Darkness on the Edge of Town", "Lost in the Flood", the acoustic version of "Born in the U.S.A.", "Jungleland", "The Promise" and "Thunder Road". I can honestly say my dad buying that for me on a whim changed my life.
I've probably posted this before, but is "Blood Brothers" on the DVD? They cut it from the CD collection even though it was arguably the definitive moment of the tour. But my God, this version is so much better than the one they cut for Greatest Hits.