Friday, March 02, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 47:Bruce Springsteen: The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

Album - The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle
Artist - Bruce Springsteen
Key Players:
Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez - Drums, Background Vocals, Coronet on "The E Street Shuffle"
Garry Tallent - Bass, Tuba, Background Vocals
Danny Federici - Accordion, Background Vocals, 2nd Piano on "Incident On 57th Street" and organ on "Kitty's Back
Clarence Clemons - All saxes and background vocals
David Sancious - Piano, organ, electric piano, clavinet, Soprano sax on "Kitty's Back", background vocals and string arrangement on "New York City Serenade"
Bruce Springsteen - All Guitars, harmonica, mandolin, recorder and lead vocals

Cameo Appearences:
Richard Blackwell: Congas and percussion
Albany Tellone: Baritone Sax on "The E Street Shuffle"

Produced By - Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos

Release Date - September 11th, 1973.

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Truthfully, this one never gets dusty! One of Bruce's best albums and certainly his most ambitious.

Overview - Bruce Springsteen's second album for Columbia records found him at a crossroads early in his career. While his first album, "Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey" was a critical success it didn't sell very well and left the young songwriter searching for a hit record. This of course, wasn't it. While again a critical success the album failed to find the huge audience the executives at Columbia were expecting when they signed "the next Bob Dylan."
In fact, Bruce was in very real danger of being dropped from the label entirely until a concert at Brown University. After the show, Bruce gave an interview to a student journalist and mentioned the problems at the label, blaming them on the new head of the label, Irwin Segelstein. As it turned out, Segelstein's son attended the University and after reading Bruce's comments called his father and complained. Segelstein decided to give Bruce another shot and a year later the album "Born to Run" was released. Needless to say, Bruce was never dropped from Columbia Records. A relationship he still enjoys to this day. "In 2003, the album was ranked number 132 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time."

FDF Comments (aka the songs) While Greetings was more of a personal album lyrically, it did hint of things to come here. Songs like "Lost in the Flood" and "Spirit in the Night" were character pieces while tunes like "Growin Up" and "For You" screamed personal experience. On this album, however, Bruce decided to paint a much broader picture full of nothing but characters. In fact, every song on this album plays as a mini-movie of sorts. If they ever put a Springsteen show up on Broadway every song here should make the cut
"The E Street Shuffle" - From the opening notes of this song the listener realizes their in for something different from whatever they were expecting. The sounds of a horn section ring out followed by a funky guitar riff. The entire song lays the foundation for what's to come from this heavily jazz influenced album. Lyrically, it's a strut. We meet "Little Angel" and "Power" and are introduced to the setting for the entire album. Imagine a late 50's shore town. "American Graffiti" meets "The Outsiders".

Musically, the band it tight. Much less cluttered than present day E Street. Vini Lopez's drumming is smooth and busy. While Bruce's guitar is clear in the mix.

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) - Simply known as "Sandy" to fans. If you close your eyes and listen you can actually see this one in your mind. Danny Federici's organ gives the feel of the boardwalk in the background as these young summer lovers see their romance fade with the season.
While it's great here it's worth seeking out the version contained on the live box set from 1986. That's my favorite version and contains the reworked final verse....
"Sandy, the angels have lost our desire for us
I spoke to 'em just last night and they said they won't set themselves on fire for us anymore
Every summer when the weather gets hot they ride that road down from heaven on their Harleys they come and they go
And you can see 'em dressed like stars in all the cheap little seashore bars parked making love with their babies out on the Kokomo
Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do
This boardwalk life for me is through
You know you ought to quit this scene too"

"Kitty's Back" - Not many of the "Next Dylans" have ever gone as far to write a jazz piece but that's what we have here. Lyrically it's very tongue in cheek....

"Jack Knife cries 'cause baby's in a bundle
She goes running nightly, lightly through the jungle
And them tin cans are explodin' out in the ninety-degree heat
Cat somehow lost his baby down on Bleecker Street
It's sad but it sure is true
Cat shrugs his shoulders, sits back and sighs
OOh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?"

Musically it's different from anything else in Bruce's entire catalog. The middle part is a musical break where each member of the band is allowed to stretch out and jam. Anyone that questions the greatness of The E Street Band has never heard this one live circa 1978.

They played it back in 2002 on Late Night. While not as wonderful as the late 70's versions it still ranks as one of the greatest one off performances in the history of television in my opinion.

"Wild Billy's Circus Story" - How many rock bands bring a tuba into the mix? Thankfully not many! Truthfully, this is the only song from this album not loaded into my Ipod. It misses the mark here. One of my least favorite Bruce tunes. Lyrically it paints the picture of traveling circus on Acid....

"The runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Fat lady, big mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn
As the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
Circus town's been born"
Musically it too simplistic for this album. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It's the definition of filler and leaves the listener more than a little hungry for what's next.

"Incident on 57th Street" - Thankfully we return to form in a big way with the next track. "Incident" is one of most loved tunes Bruce has ever written. It's a rarity live after 1975 though does make an appearance now and again.
The story of "Spanish Johnny" and "Puerto Rican Jane", "Incident" is a modern day "West Side Story." Told from a third person point of view it's all at once simplistic and grand. A true masterpiece..
"Johnny was sittin' on the fire escape watchin' the kids playin' down the street
He called down "Hey little heroes, summer's long but I guess it ain't very sweet around here anymore"
Janey sleeps in sheets damp with sweat, Johnny sits up alone and watches her dream on, dream on
And the sister prays for lost souls, then breaks down in the chapel after everyone's gone

Jane moves over to share her pillow but opens her eyes to see Johnny up and putting his clothes on
She says "Those romantic young boys
All they ever want to do is fight"
Those romantic young boys
They're callin' through the window
"Hey Spanish Johnny, you want to make a little easy money tonight?"
And Johnny whispered:
Good night, it's all right Jane
I'll meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane"

The type of song that you get lost in and after you listen immediately want to hear again.... Strictly out of fear you missed something

"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" - The most well known track on the album. Chances are this is the one track you've heard played on your local Classic Rock station. The word "sweeping" is the first that comes to mind when looking to describe this one. While the other songs on here play with tempo and pace for effect, "Rosalita" fires out at 100 Mph and doesn't take it's foot off the gas. Clocking in at slightly over seven minutes it feels like three.

Bruce has said he wrote this one looking ahead to the live show. To have a song to end the show with that leaves the audience drained. Having caught this one live I can attest to a job well done! The story contains upwards of twelve different characters spread across it's cohesive whole. The song also plays as the most personal on the record. A young musician trying to steal his love and take off to California to run down their dreams. Against the obvious objections of her parents.

"Now I know your mama she don't like me 'cause I play in a rock and roll band
And I know your daddy he don't dig me but he never did understand
Papa lowered the boom, he locked you in your room
I'm comin' to lend a hand
I'm comin' to liberate you, confiscate you, I want to be your man
Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny
But now you're sad, your mama's mad
And your papa says he knows that I don't have any money
Tell him this is last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
Because a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance"

I've always believed these characters are the ones that show up later in "Thunder Road" She didn't get in that car and he didn't leave without her. Now, the only thing they have left is the open road and once last shot to take.... The desperation of "Thunder Road" is the end result of the optimistic dreams of "Rosalita" not coming true.

"New York City Serenade" - The final song on the record is another that sounds like nothing else Bruce ever recorded. Starting out with a stark acoustic guitar then a solo haunting piano it builds swiftly and effectively into a another story about two lovers torn between romance and the reality of the streets they walk.

"Jackie's heels are stacked
Billy's got cleats on his boots
Together they're gonna boogaloo down Broadway and come back home with the loot
It's midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute
It's a mad dog's promenade
So walk tall or baby don't walk at all"

The big difference here is that role reversal in this one. The guy is trying to save the girl in this one. Of course, like all the other songs here, there's no happy ending or at least an easy one.

And that the point of the entire album. Characters torn between love and violence. Reality and their dreams. Optimistic hopes and stark reminders of the way the world actually works. It's a challenging album from the first note to the final one. When your finished your not quite sure what you just heard but you know it's unlike anything you've heard before and that you can't wait to listen again.

Where are they now? - Bruce still continues to record and tour solo and with is latest side project "The Seeger session band." The E Street Band has been on hiatus for the past few years but rumor has them recording a new album in the coming months with a world tour to follow.
The band no longer has Vini Lopez on drums who was asked to leave the band after this album because of his style not meshing with the direction Bruce wanted to take his music. He continues to record and tour with "Steel Mill Retro" one of the bands he was originally in with Bruce back in the late 60s/ early 70s.
David Sancious left the band after the recording of the title track of 1975's "Born to Run." Feeling the E Street Band wasn't heading in a worthwhile direction he went on the form his own band "tone." He still works and tours as a successful session musician with such acts as Seal, Eric Clapton and Sting.

FDF Personal Comments (aka The Live Experience) - I've seen Bruce Springsteen about 25 times now. Solo, with the Seeger Sessions Band, sitting in at a bar gig, with his '92-'93 band and of course with the E Street Band. While he's ALWAYS worth the price of admission, nothing can capture the force and magic of an E Street show.
While this is one of my favorite albums I've only caught three of these songs live. "Rosalita," "Sandy," and most recently "Kitty's Back." They have all become rarities live with the exception of "Rosalita" which returned to the regular rotation last tour. Because of their length, many of these songs will never make the cut every night. It's all at once frustrating and rewarding depending on the night your lucky enough to be in attendance.

FDF Overall Take - All the angst and hunger of a 23 year old Bruce Springsteen pours over every inch of these stories and their characters. And yes, I said 23! A fact that makes this work even more impressive and lends validity to the "genius" tags that fly when Springsteen is mentioned in social circles. Between this, 1975's "Born to Run" and 1978's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" you'd be hard pressed to find a string of three more impressive albums from one artist so early in their careers. Easily found in the "nice price" section of any record store or on the internet this is one worth seeking out for repeated listens.


MP3s are no longer available

Rosalita taken from The Wild, The Innocent....

Incident on 57th Street taken from The Wild, The innocent...

Like it? Place to buy it

This weeks live show download

Bruce Springsteen: The Saint, The Incident & The Main Point Shuffle
Recorded at the Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
February 5, 1975

Highlights included:

Mountain Love
Born To Run
Thunder Road->Wings for Wheels
I Want you
Spirit in the Night
She's The One
Growin Up
Its Hard to Be a Saint in the City
4th of July, Asbury Park
For You
Back in the USA

Roy Bittan - piano
Clarence Clemons - sax, backing vocals
Danny Federici - organ, accordion
Suki Lahav - Violin
Bruce Springsteen - vocals, guitar, harmonica
Garry W. Tallent - bass, backing vocals
Steve Van Zandt - guitar, background vocals
Max Weinberg - drums

This weeks post was written by this blogger. Check out his blog if you would please.

Regarding the mp3's please leave a comment if there is an issue (one will do) and March will correct them.


At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and speaking of For You...
some cool photos

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Ryan of the RSL blog said...

Thanks - good stuff.

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Marc nichol said...

and this one too march, this one too...great stuff...25 times?, jealous...only 6



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