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4.8 out of 5 stars70
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2000
The collapse of Bruce Springsteen's marriage to his first wife Julianne was undoubtably the main inspiration behind this beautiful and reflective album. You could be easily mistaken in thinking that all of the songs would be about woe and suffering, but that has never been the Springsteen way. This highly underarted lyricist sharply gets to the centre of what major problems can occur when two aults decide to spend the rest of their lives together and it is all laid out in typically honest fashion. They say great art comes from pain and this is no exception, this album is easily the equal of Bob Dylans "Blood on the tracks". Songs like the title song and "One Step Up" are wonderfully reflective and like the rest of the album they are all covered in wonderfull melodic acoustic arrangements. There are other more straight forward tracks such as "Walk like a man" which incisively chronicles the expectations and pressures on new husbands to be and the lovely "All that heaven will allow" which is a classic Sprinsgteen love song. This is undoubtably Bruce's most honest album but it is also his most musical and in "Valentines Day" it posseses Bruce's finest ever song in a career that spans nearly twenty years. "Valentines day" is a song about the redemptive qualities of love and the fear we all have in losing the person we need and cherish the most, with the killer line "A friend of mine beacme a father last night, and in his voice i could hear the light". Shortly after his divorce and this albums release in 1987, Bruce married his backing singer Patti and now he has his own family. His output since has been patchy, but take a listen to this wonderful album when the Boss was still seeking the light and his music was all the better for it.
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2007
After Born in the USA launches Bruce into the premier league of stadium rock acts he makes one of those brave creative decisions which he does from time to time.

Tunnel of love dispenses with the bright poppy production of Born in the USA in favour of a more intimate rock album signifying the break up of his improbable marriage to model/acrtress/whatever Julianne Phillips. This is not an album for everybody or indeed for every occasion, but boy are there some gems in here.

The a capella opening of Aint Got You immediately suggests that this is not BitUSA part 2 but something barer, more intense and intensely personal. The song is an unrequited love song to a Bo diddly type beat, cataloging an impressive list of stuff the boss has but it means nothing as he does not have the one thing money cannot buy. This is followed by Tougher Than the Rest a similarly warped, dark love song which almost has a C&W feel, no pedal steel guitars but a morose plodding synth backing - but the language of the song owes much to country music. Contrasting this is the lighter All that Heaven Will Allow - perhaps the poppiest non single on the album, a simpler romance.

Spare Parts is a more narrative song about a woman who's life which is ruined by unprotected sex, the resultant baby and absentee father. This is slightly rockier Nebraska type song, the lyric is typical Springsteen a spare yet detailed narrative about the less fortunate. Cautious Man continues in a similar vein.

Walk like a man is simpler fare - the story of a man growing up to be like his father, and realising there is a lot in life you need to figure out for yourself.

On the LP the second side opens with the mighty title track. Tunnel of Love is not like anything else in the Springsteen canon. An urgent rock song using fairground rides as a metaphor for love and life. Majestic. The tunnel of love tour opened with this song and proved to be belting set opener.

Two Faces is a stark self appraisal in song form, outlining the duality of his personality in relation to his wife. The single Brilliant Disguise is an extension of this theme in a more radio friendly form.

All of the songs carry this starkness and convey inensely personal views of the writers' perspective of life and love at this difficult time in his life.

There is not a bad song on here but it is not a record for days when you are feeling low or in the throes of a break up. In all it is a beautiful, undervalued classic record. Not his best and not my favourite but I think that may be in no small part because of its difficult subject matter.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2003
I bought this album in a sale. The first time I listened to it, I thought it was the best thing I'd heard in months.
This is Bruce's divorce album ( I'm sure ). This is an album about him losing the one he loves, and it's for real.
The real strength here is that you sense this album comes completely from the heart. That's not to say the album is raw, but what you have has been modulated and refined so what you're left with is the truth - Wordsworth said that emotion was passion recalled in tranquility, and that's what we have here.
What makes it strong is that Bruce is very much a man's man. He's not the type to conjure up fake tears and trauma - so his sadness here is the real deal.
It's an album about how it's hard to do the right thing, hard to stand up tall. It's about how important love is, and how hard it hits you when its gone. The beauty is that it lacks rancour and accusation. It's pure.
This is not Born in the USA, and it's not Born To Run - so fans of Springsteen might not find it completely to their taste. However, those who find Springsteen a little bombastic ( not saying he is ! ) should maintain an open mind about his work ( qv Ghost of Tom Joad ). He's a man with plenty to say.
Stand out tracks - Walk Like a Man, Brilliant Disguise, Valentines Day, and the glorious One Step Up.
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on 28 January 2012
I play this all the time still over twenty years after its original realise. Two things stand out the quality of the recording and the structure of the songs. This is not a victim of 80's production, as the recordings, are defiantly not over produced, songs like Cautious man and the fantastic One step up are very stripped back almost like Nebraska, but far better. The album starts with I an't got you a very acoustic rockabilly type beginning, and then straight into tougher than the rest,which is still one of the best songs Springsteen has done so far. As with Fleetwood Mac it takes a break down in a relationship to write very powerful songs, Brilliant disguise, proves this a wonderful structured song,about Springsteen's marriage to his first wife and taking us through the break up when you listen it can bring a tear to the eye. Tunnel of love came on the heals of the massive Born in the USA which Springsteen needed to do to get back after the Nebraska sessions which divided fans. Tunnel of love combine both the elements of acoustic guitar and strong numbers like spare parts and the title track Tunnel of love. Q magazine rated Tunnel of love at the time a return to form, Springsteen went on record as it being his favourite album, I am with the Boss here, if you want to hear what CD's should sound like this is where you start in 1987.
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on 31 December 2010
Firstly I should start by saying this was my first ever Springsteen purchase,on vinyl aged around 16.....

Sure I knew a few singles by the guy,but this looked interesting .......(And those singles never did the guy justice,Nebraska anyone?)

Wow,it blew me away.the raw honesty and reflection,his best songwriting ever I feel.It really played well on vinyl as I felt side one was full of cautious hope of love and side 2 was much darker as it all just fell away......I just couldn't wait for my first break up to be honest just to 'feel 'this album some more. lol.

Obviously compared to 'Blood on The Tracks',but for me this pips it (and I don't say that lightly !)

Still my favourite album (if pushed to answer) after all these years :)
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on 14 March 2010
Have owned this album on cassette since it's original release and decided to replace it with the cd version, as it was starting to sound a little crusty to say the least!
Wonderful to hear it sounding so clean and crisp. Originally purchased because I loved 'Brilliant Disguise', but discovered other musical gems.
Timeless tracks from the tranquil 'Cautious man', to the brilliantly upbeat title track 'Tunnel of Love'; (can never resist turning it up!)
I wouldn't call myself a Springsteen fan, but this is an exceptional album and I know every line of every song. Class!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 June 2012
Years after its first release I find myself returning to this album again and again.

I love the simple honesty of expression here -that Springsteen is making clear reference to events and feelings present in his own life. This is an album of a mature man at odds with himself: in some ways successful in other ways left feeling empty and lost for direction. The optimism and easy of humour of youth being replaced with the uncertainties of getting older,indicate that the artist is at some sort of emotional crossroads- but where to go?. Bruce's answer seems to be that what is required at such a juncture is to to make a decision and keep on going, or as he phrases it to 'Walk Like a Man'. This then really is Springsteen at his most personal. Songs like 'Brilliant Disguise', 'When You're Alone' and the unbearably moving 'One Step Up' reveal Bruce to be a lyricist who can pronounce on the foibles of romance and the Human condition yet still stay within the bounds of everyday life and everyday people. Yet there there are moments of real up -lift on this album- the gloriously stomping bravado of 'Tougher Than The Rest' (featuring some of Bruce's best guitar playing!) and the wistful 'Valentines Day' make for a truly great set of songs. Elsewhere there are a few workman like tunes ('Spare Parts'?)but even here the inspiration level only dips slightly.Musically, this album is a more sophisticated and rounded affair then the deliberately low-fi ,stripped down 'Nebraska', but avoids the big band treatment featured on releases involving the E Street Band.Even so,Bruce has created a varied and dynamic recording that holds the attention throughout.

Recommended,even to those who might feel themselves immune from the charms of the Boss. O.K I love this album,so you might think my judgment is impaired. But I love this disc enough to admit that though it might have a few shortcomings, it is in just about in any meaningful sense, a great, great piece of work, well deserving a place in your collection.
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on 30 December 2011
I'm always amazed when I listen to this album at how honest Springsteen is in his lyrics.

Many of the songs (Ain't Got You, Cautious Man,Tunnel of Love, Brilliant disguise) seem to be based on the difficulties he was having during his short lived marraige to Julianne Phillips. They give an insight into the doubts and problems (including between the sheets) that cause marraiges to break up. He is not scared to blow away any notion of being some kind of macho rock star.

Coming on the heels of the huge success of "Born to Run" many of the songs on the album must have represented a huge risk of alienating some of his fans. However their quality is such that the album stands the test of time.

It's not all gloom and heartbreak either. "Spare Parts" is a Texan morality tale. "Walk like a Man" is a tribute to his father.

There is a country feel to many of the vocals and music on the album that suit the songs perfectly.
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on 5 March 2012
It's hard to believe that these songs are now 25 years old......where on earth does the time go,it seems like only yesterday I first heard these tunes???
That aside,a number of these timeless classics are still staple play on radio stations to-day,such as the great rocker "Tougher than the rest",the still fresh sounding "Tunnel of love" and the sublime "Brilliant disguise" which all still have me hitting the repeat button on my remote.
As is the case with many of the Bosses albums there are some tracks stronger than others and that's what happens here too,but it's no less for that.
All in all,a nice sounding album and one I have never got tired or bored with.
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on 1 December 2013
I've loved this album since the day it was released. Most songs on here are profound , beautiful pieces of songwriting. Anyone who is male, has a father or if you are a father and have a son couldn't fail to be moved by 'Walk like a man'. 'One Step up ' is one of the best songs ever written. So brilliantly economical with deep, true reflections on the problems and troubles of a relationship. How to get complexity of human relationships in a seemingly simple song; brilliant. There are many more riches here. A true masterpiece.
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