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Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 8.75
Production 8.75
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.19
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.94
Production 6.5
Creativity 7.44
Lasting Value 7.38
Reviewer Tilt 9.06
Average: 80%
Inside AP.net

Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream

Reviewed by: Chris Fallon (01/26/09)
Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream
Record Label: Columbia Records
Release Date: January 27, 2009


Seems these days you can't escape Bruce Springsteen if you try. Awards shows, Presidential inauguration ceremonies, NFL highlight reels, bands with beards -- no matter where you look, he's bound to show up in some form.

The Boss has reluctantly become The King in recent years, watching from on high over Jersey, making sure that Bon Jovi feller doesn't try to climb atop his almighty throne. For studio album number 16, Springsteen has returned to form after several prolific years of getting older, remaining more downtrodden lyrically and tinkering with a different form of his long-accustomed sound. We saw this on his "comeback" record, The Rising and on 2007's Magic, which was a bleak brand of pop we hadn't seen too often from a man who once sang about Joe Shmoe's looking back on their glory days or rolling on down Thunder Road.

For Working on a Dream, Springsteen went back into his songbook and pulled out some upbeat gems that are more reminiscent of his early work (in terms of content) and also takes some cues from his mainstream popularity (when it comes to melody) for a robust selection of impenetrable cuts just ripe for picking. It's abundantly clear that this is not just a Springsteen record -- it's the most collective sound we've heard from the E Street Band in years, not perhaps since Born in the U.S.A., with every member of the Boss' longtime backing band contributing something particularly satisfying throughout the record. For those more inclined to listen to his full-band rock records, this one is for you.

The first clue this is not the same Boss we've witnessed lately is evident in the first track, "Outlaw Pete," an eight-minute, slow-burning story of a man who "robbed a bank in his diapers and little bare baby feet." Raw and searing, Springsteen tells us a tale of a man always running to no avail, never slowing down -- mirroring that of Springsteen himself, an idol of many who may never have been perfect, but has continued to go strong despite whatever setbacks arrived. "My Lucky Day" reverses this tone, launching into an organ-drenched piece overflowing with optimism. It's an unusual song for the Boss, as even many of his pop songs have been dark in context. "When I've lost all the other bets I've made / Honey, you're my lucky day," he croons, hinting that perhaps under that rugged exterior, the Boss is a big ol' softy after all (and, to top it off, it comes complete with a classically-styled Clarence Clemons saxophone solo!).

Many of the songs tackle the topic of hope and love, what is to come in this unpredictable life (sung about in somewhat ironic fashion on "Surprise Surprise"), with some religious allusion scattered around for effect. Despite some of the silly lyrics, the yearning piano-laced track, "Queen of the Supermarket," feels like it was lifted directly from one of his first two albums; "Life Itself" is modern-rock that sounds like Pearl Jam, distorted guitars coming in & out over a steady beat; Celtic-flavored "What Love Can Do" shimmers with sincerity, powered by the band's layered vocal work; "Good Eye" catches Springsteen in one of his best moments, singing the blues like hymns, speaking like a preacher to the choir. Producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Incubus) has gotten some of Springsteen's best material out of him (not to dismiss any of his recent work), managing to produce a nostalgic sound while reinventing a classic artist. The record has life, something we haven't seen in full capacity from Bruce & company in quite some time.

The title track is the sore spot in all of this, lacking backbone in accordance with the encouraging words it provides (the lyrics suggest it should carry a melody like "My Lucky Day"). "Tomorrow Never Knows" is out-of-place, lasting just over two minutes, feeling like a banjo-driven interlude rather than an entire song. Despite all that, Working on a Dream is the best Springsteen album in 25 years, hearkening back to the days when he topped the charts and was the iconoclastic go-to American wordsmith. Each song feels as cohesive as the one before it, going for a full-band experience, bringing forth memories of [/i]Born to Run[/i]. While it's not as prolific as that recording was back in 1975, it carries the same emotional weight (exiting Vietnam --> exiting the frequently-chastised Bush administration) and is the perfect introduction for a new year, new country and new beginnings for all of us.

Springsteen's influence is undeniable, and it's wonderful to hear a classic artist come back swinging with such relevance, full of piss & vigor, bringing a little bit of old school to the new school. If only all classic artists could be as fruitful and as consistent as Springsteen has remained, then maybe we wouldn't have to be so thankful to have a familiar voice show up with such a strong presence.

On second thought, it's actually a nice treat. Keep riding that throne, Mr. Springsteen: "With you, [we] don't hear the minutes ticking by." We simply enjoy every second.

Recommended if You LikeAmerica; Barack Obama; Chevy trucks (but not John Mellencamp); BRUCE F**KING SPRINGSTEEN!!!
Choice Cuts"My Lucky Day," "Outlaw Pete" and "Good Eye."


Track Listing1. Outlaw Pete
2. My Lucky Day
3. Working on a Dream
4. Queen of the Supermarket
5. What Love Can Do
6. This Life
7. Good Eye
8. Tomorrow Never Knows
9. Life Itself
10. Kingdom of Days
11. Surprise, Surprise
12. The Last Carnival
13. The Wrestler
Band MembersBruce Springsteen: lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, percussion, glockenspiel
Roy Bittan: piano, organ, accordian
Clarence Clemons: saxophone, vocals
Danny Federici: organ
Nils Lofgren: guitars, vocals
Patti Scialfa: vocals
Garry Tallent: bass
Steve Van Zandt: guitars, vocals
Max Weinberg: drums
Soozie Tyrell: violin, vocals


Online VitalsOfficial Site | Official Fansite | Official Myspace
PurchaseAmazon MP3
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 48
09:31 PM on 01/26/09
#2
WhoSaidThat?
twitter.com/TiredOfSeth
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Bruce Springsteen > Sex.
09:39 PM on 01/26/09
#3
TSTLSOOM
Hayley > Hayley
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Bruce Springsteen > Sex.
idk man, more like Bruce Springsteen=Sex
09:45 PM on 01/26/09
#4
c_rob2700
believe that we have lost our eyes
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Listening to Springsteen while having sex. I win.
09:51 PM on 01/26/09
#5
DI Pistola
tune in Tokyo
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What the crap!? No love for "The Wrestler!!?"
09:53 PM on 01/26/09
#6
Twizx
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90% seems pretty generous compared to the other reviews I've been reading, solid review though.
09:53 PM on 01/26/09
#7
Chris Fallon
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What the crap!? No love for "The Wrestler!!?"
Bonus track -- wasn't sure if it came with iTunes only or not, so I didn't want to hail it then have it not be on the hard copy.

Fantastic song, though. I love how mellow it is.
09:54 PM on 01/26/09
#8
Chris Fallon
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90% seems pretty generous compared to the other reviews I've been reading, solid review though.
Really? I've read a few major publications who reviewed it, and they loved it. I think Spin is the only magazine who thought it was okay (at least what I saw).
10:01 PM on 01/26/09
#9
Twizx
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Really? I've read a few major publications who reviewed it, and they loved it. I think Spin is the only magazine who thought it was okay (at least what I saw).
Yeah I was going to name Spin, and these guys http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/musi...uce-sprin.html
10:06 PM on 01/26/09
Chris Fallon
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That guy barely mentions the rest of the album, minus the title track haha

Still, he didn't give it a bad review -- the rest of the album is so much better than that song.
10:54 PM on 01/26/09
Justin_stacy
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Don't care for obama or chevy trucks....but I liked this alot. Outlaw Pete was probably my favorite song, although I'm not sure it was a good intro track.


*awful cover 'art'.
11:40 PM on 01/26/09
You Won't Know
You're fuckin out and I'm fuckin in
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The Boss is a truly great musician who has stood the test of time. Just the fact that he can put out a relevant single or a relevant record 30 years into his career is amazing. Plus he is still making stuff that is not really that commercial - it's more just about being a true artist.

Bruce was what my dad got me into, it's his favorite artist, mostly because the Boss is so amazing live. Even at age 55, I would kill to see Bruce in concert. And the 3 1/2 hour long set would be worth every cost. Anyways, my dad has good taste. Long live The Boss!
11:43 PM on 01/26/09
Chris Fallon
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Don't care for obama or chevy trucks....but I liked this alot. Outlaw Pete was probably my favorite song, although I'm not sure it was a good intro track.


*awful cover 'art'.
Agreed on the cover art -- wish they hadn't done the coloring.

As for "Outlaw Pete": I think it's an ambitious move to put it first, as it sets the mood with its story and sort of contradicts the rest of the album in tone. I think because it's unexpected to start off an album with an 8 minute song, it makes it ambitious, as compared to the rest of the shorter tracks.
11:54 PM on 01/26/09
Justin_stacy
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Agreed on the cover art -- wish they hadn't done the coloring.

As for "Outlaw Pete": I think it's an ambitious move to put it first, as it sets the mood with its story and sort of contradicts the rest of the album in tone. I think because it's unexpected to start off an album with an 8 minute song, it makes it ambitious, as compared to the rest of the shorter tracks.
I don't disagree, but I can also see where it can be a turn off to some and limit the interaction the listener has with later tracks (i.e. short car rides and such)...

Also, don't know if you know the song, but for some reason this song reminds me alot of Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson and Merl Hagard.
12:01 AM on 01/27/09
Chris Fallon
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I don't disagree, but I can also see where it can be a turn off to some and limit the interaction the listener has with later tracks (i.e. short car rides and such)...

Also, don't know if you know the song, but for some reason this song reminds me alot of Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson and Merl Hagard.
Yeah, totally -- I hope people won't be too turned off though due to the length. It's a complimentary track to the full band sound present here, as it builds up to the next track.

Actually, yes! I have heard that song! I'm not a huge fan of either, but I know exactly what you're talking about -- good call! The track is certainly a country-style song, one that sounds like it could have been recorded acoustically for Nebraska.
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