Two albums in one year for Bruce Springsteen! After a first salvo of nine titles on Greetings From Asbury park, NJ, the Boss got back to work and released a new effort ten months after his very first record. Released on November 5, 1973, it contains songs that would become show classics for decades.
If Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, Bruce Springsteen’s first album presented as a sort of allegory what one of the greatest rock stars would become, his second effort channels the singer’s energy and begins to establish his reputation as an independent songwriter. paired with, in particular, a B side composed of what would become his trademark, his trademark: his pieces of bravery. Blocks of more than seven minutes, including one reaching ten minutes. For a rock album, this is quite unusual: this kind of timing is rather reserved for prog-rock records, specializing in extremely elaborate mini-symphonies. Bruce Springsteen here brings a new dimension to rock itself: long songs like certain Bob Dylan titles, sharp guitars and leaden rhythm. Certainly, on his first effort, some tracks didn’t make much sense, a collection of words worked for their assonance and rhythms, which clashed with each other. Springsteen played rhyme like a virtuoso, his words responding to the devastating riffs of his Fender Esquire, and more than anything, he played with exuberance because, already, behind the young Bruce, he was pointing out the one who would establish himself as an ultimate stage beast , despite then, a rather limited personal repertoire. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle is him, a lot… Seriously! The songs are even more ambitious and sometimes even more romantic. The writing strengthens, the energy is channeled into more controlled songwriting and yet, remains in the vein of Greetings… His album released less than a year before this new LP. Springsteen clearly asserts himself here as one of the new talents to be reckoned with. WECB moreover, he would qualify him as the new Dylan, alongside the man who would become one of his traveling companions and with whom he would form a solid friendship, Elliott Murphy.
Like Greetings, this new album evokes with powerful metaphors the streets of New York and the Jersey Shore where it comes from. And above all, his texts abandon expressions that are at best crazy, at worst, incomprehensible. From now on, he plays a new card, one ranging from ultra-realism to romance. Springsteen is developing as a writer of music and words. His new songs, including the most poignant title of the album, “Incident on 57th Street”, a sort of mini-opera sung in a melodramatic voice, to the jubilant “Rosalita” are, strangely of the same vein: he recounts his youth with powerful images, but systematically tempered by the sadness that this innocence will inevitably remain fleeting. Bruce plays on this tension, this confrontation which generates an urgent and desperate need to seek salvation in flight. It is this type of story that he will develop further in Born to Run And Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
At the same time, Bruce Springsteen is rethinking his music: if the substance may seem common, the form takes on a new dimension: his E-Street Band, a rock group made up of high-level musicians, is transformed in turn into a prog group, RnB, rock, early punk, but also American pop: they can play everything, without asking any more questions: jazz, funk, text-mex, folk, country. Everything goes there and better, everything can go there and always with desire and energy. Springsteen himself is the guitarist and leader of an extraordinary orchestra, a group that is beginning to take its definitive form as a rock’n’roll machine. The photo which illustrates the back of the cover is eloquent on this point: a bunch of scruffy guys who will knock your socks off. A whole program: two skinny white guys, two strong black guys, a skinny Latino, and a scrawny singer-songwriter who we still have trouble calling a Boss.
- The E Street Shuffle – 4:31
- 4th of July Sandy Asbury Park – 5:36
- Kitty’s Back – 7:09
- Wild Billy’s Circus Story – 4:47
- Incident on 57th Street – 7:45
- Come Out Tonight Rosalita – 7:04
- New York City Serenade – 9:55
- Bruce Springsteen: Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica and Mandolin
- Garry Tallent: Bass, Tuba
- Danny Federici: Accordion, Piano, Keyboards
- David Sancious: Piano, Keyboards, Saxophone
- Clarence Clemons: Saxophone
- Vini Lopez: Drums
- Richard Blackwell: congas, percussion
- Albany “Al” Tellone: baritone saxophone on “The E Street Shuffle”
- Uncredited: Suki Lahav: backing vocals on “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and “Incident on 57th Street”