Bruce Springsteen – Into The Fire.

BOWLES_TH_C_^_THURSDAYNot that he couldn’t write something more classically oriented, if he needed to. ‘Jungleland’, the ten minute opus which may very well serve as the title of the third record, opens with 90 seconds of strings and percussion. But its influences are classical in the way in which ’60s soul producers like Spector, Holland-Dozier-Holland and Gamble-Huff absorbed them, rather than in the way that pedants like those unctuous Britons Yes and ELP have done. Its imagery is magnificient, exceeded only by its music. Springsteen’s music is often strange because it has an almost traditional sense of beauty, an inkling of the awe you can feel when, say, first falling in love or finally discovering that the magic in the music is also in you. Which may also be first falling in love.
‘She’s the One’, on the other hand, is pure sex, with a Bo Diddley beat that’s nothing short of scary. Shorter, and less complicated than the other two, it could be the one. (The Hollies’ ‘Sandy’ might’ve beat him to it. As Springsteen fans know only too well, the Hollies’ version has almost nothing in common with Bruce’s. But then, what did the Byrds’ ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ share with Dylan’s?)
All of this makes Bruce Springsteen just about what he thinks he is, or at least, hopes to become: the Complete Rock and Roller. Few in rock and roll have attempted so much. None of the ’50s rock and rollers were so ambitious – Elvis could have achieved everything, even intellectual and production brilliance, without drawing a heavy breath, if he had that ambition – and Bob Dylan never had the patience to, for instance, make interestingly constructed records. The Beatles had the production genius, with Martin and Spector and one suspects, without them, but they never really had to tackle it on stage. In any case, like the Stones, their magic was more collective than individual as subsequent events have shown. The Stones themselves couldn’t be everything, because the scope of the group deliberately cannot contain some of Springsteen’s farthest fetched (and I believe, most successful) ideas. For instance, it’s hard to imagine Jagger coming out to sing a ballad as his first song, let alone a ballad sung only against violin accompaniment. Todd Rundgren had the idea, and the scope, but – one suspects – not quite the guts or talent or sheer keening madness to to go out and DO it, as a rock and roller. So he retired to the academy of his own electronic idiosyncrasy.

Kurtmann

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