147 of 156 people found the following review helpful
I think this is a really fine Springsteen album. Although I have been a fan for decades I don't think that every album is a classic, but I suspect that this may turn out to be one. The man certainly hasn't lost any of his ability to write a fine song, and there is a passion and often a rage running through Wrecking Ball which gives it real power. There is also a variety of material and styles here - country, gospel and even a little rap make an appearance - with some deeply introspective, almost Nebraska-style moments through to driving rockers like the title track, which I find makes the whole thing a riveting listen from beginning to end.
It is the rage which strikes you most forcibly. Springsteen has always had a passionate love of his country and of its ordinary, decent people. He now also has a raw despair and fury at those who cheat those people and twist his country away from what he thinks it should and could be. This is thunderously and uncompromisingly overt in several songs - for example Jack Of All Trades ("If I had me a gun I'd find the bastards and shoot `em on sight") and Death To My Hometown:
"...Send the robber barons straight to hell -
Greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Who walk the streets as free men now
And brought death to my hometown."
Powerful stuff, and a great song which is sung with a fury and blame very different from the sad, fatalistic acceptance of economic hardship in songs like The River and My Hometown in the 80s. There is more on this album than just rage, though. Springsteen's strength as a songwriter has always been his ability to write a good, straightforward tune and to convey important human experiences and truths through singing about the small specifics of life, especially working life. He does a great job of that on this album and it is also good to see that he can still write a fine, direct love/lust song in You Got It.
That great voice is still just as great, and the production is, as always, excellent. There is, of course, one giant absentee and I found the huge gap left by Clarence Clemons yawned at me on occasions, despite a fine brass section. Clarence makes his only appearance on Land Of Hope And Dreams - Track 10 - and to hear him suddenly so far through the album was almost unbearably poignant. It is a great tribute to a man whose sound I have loved and which has followed me down three decades and more.
I warmly recommend this album, especially to those who may be wondering whether they really need another Springsteen album. I think you do need this one - it is excellent.
(By the way, the Deluxe Edition contains two extra songs tagged onto the end. For what it's worth, I think they are OK but nothing special. You may want to spend the little extra for the sake of completeness and for the extra artwork, but my feeling is that the album comes to a natural, well-judged close with We Are Alive and I actually prefer the album without them.)
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
I was lucky enough to be at the Giants Stadium on September 30th 2009 when Bruce strode out and first performed "Wrecking Ball" and got the MP3 of it a short while later when it was released so to see it on the new album was a bit of a shock especially as the album includes "Land of hope and dreams" too as the live version of this has appeared on the "Live in NYC" album before. Is he having trouble writing songs I thought but then when I read that he rejected 40 odd songs to put this album together I guess that he's crafted this album to tell the story as he wants to tell it (and as "Land of hope and dreams" features the last recorded sax that The Big Man left us with it would be valuable for that if it weren't a great song anyway).
This is a very dark album and as close to a concept album as you'll ever get from Bruce Springsteen - he starts with "We take care of our own" which, if you listen to the lyrics, "we "being the USA patently do not although I can see it being a rabble rouser.
The album next deals with the subject of "Easy Money" - a theme obviously explored before in "Meeting across the river" on "Born to run".
He explores the themes of being a working class blue collar kind of guy who wants to find work - wherever it can be found - in the next two tracks - "Shackled and drawn" and "Jack of all trades" then comes the first of the real stand out tracks - "Death to my hometown" which sounds very much as though this was a hangover from the "Seeger Sessions" album.
"This depression" finds Bruce in, well, depressive mood as the song's title says - this is the album's "low" point as the songs from hereon in are hopeful starting with the folksy sounding "You've got it" - what is "it" though ? I think it's hope.
The next track - "Rocky Ground" looks to become a stone cold classic, folky and very "religious" in it's language even incorporating a little rap in the lyrics. The chorus sounds like a Southern baptist evangelical choir. It's fabulous.
Next up the aforementioned "Land of hope and dreams" - again a fabulous track, full of hope at where "we" are going now - on "this train" full of "whores and gamblers"
The ordinary edition ends with "We are alive" again full of religious symbolism - the message here is that the body may die but the spirit never will
The special edition adds "Swallowed up"(in the belly of the whale) which, if it isn't an old hymn, damn well sounds as if it should be and concludes with another version of "American Land" which sounds the same as the version on the "Seeger Sessions" album - still a great track even if I do wonder why we need it again !
So there you have it - one man's journey (and it is mainly one man as the E Street Band don't make much of an appearance on this album) from despair into hopelessness and out the other side into a (hopefully) bright future.
To my mind, and having only listened to it three or four times, I think it's great. It sounds to me like a cross between "Nebraska" or "Tom Joad" and "The Rising" with a healthy dollop of "The Seeger Sessions" thrown in for good measure
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2012
Springsteen made a huge mistake on his last two albums, Magic and Working on a Dream, by having Brendan O'Brien as producer. O'Brien created an indistinct sound which muffled some fine instrumentation and vocals. The result was a disaster and fans noticed a huge difference when the songs on these albums were played live. Now O'Brien has been replaced by Ron Aniello, who has brought back the superb production values that characterised Springsteen's early albums. Let's hope the Boss has learned his lesson.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2012
Just a great CD.
Been a fan for around 30 years and this collection of songs is one of the best. Compares favourably with recent fine work such as "Magic" and "The Rising". The production is better than "Magic" which sounds a little harsh in comparison.
Weakest track is the first single but that is by no means a bad song - just goes to show the standard here.
Initial favourites are "Jack of all Trades", "Death to My Hometown", "Rocky Ground", "LOHAD" and "We Are Alive"
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2012
Bruce Springsteen has always been a lifetime favourite of mine. I met my second wife through our mutual adoration of "The Boss".Sadly she is not with us eternally and listening to Bruce gives me strength each day. I could not wait to receive this Album and did much research prior to its release in Europe. Yes there are a couple of Tracks there which have been revamped to fit in with the Album, American Lands, and Land Of Hope and Dreams, which I personally presume Bruce thought he just had to put here in tribute to his great friend Clarence "Bigman" Clemonds. I totally agree with most of the previous excellent five star reviews put here. There are touches of the old Bruce songs from previous Albums musically, but Bruce always has to put over his message to his loyal Fans by recording very powerful Ballads, and his Live Concerts prove that he has a massive following of all ages and we all love to hear him perform his style of MUSIC. I have EVERY ALBUM produced by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, I have my favourites,and am certain that "Wrecking Ball" will too become a Classic Album in time. Bruce should have run for the New Jersey Vote a few years ago when he was given that chance. He would have certainly made his points to the American Congress. Music worldwide is a very powerfull tool in politics.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2012
I'm a huge fan of Bruce's, but I much prefer his work when the E Street Band are backing him. Having said that, the sheer power of this record more than makes up for the lack of E Street sound. Bruce has this strange ability to take the zeitgeist and put it into his work perfectly. He did it for the post-9/11 sorrow on "The Rising", he did it in the post-Obama election joy on "Working On a Dream" (though, admittedly, the album itself was a bit patchy), he did it in the Reagan-era on "Born In The USA". And he's done it here. But, never has he sounded this angry or aggressive, even proclaiming in Jack Of All Trades; "If I had me a gun I'd find the bastards and shoot em on sight". And yet never does he PREACH, in an annoying Bono-type way. He always sounds like a sympathiser rather than someone who is telling us what our problems are, it's like he simply understands our problems. At least one track ("This Depression") hit so close to home for me that it brought me close to tears.
In my opinion, his best album without the E Street Band (including "Nebraska" and "Devils & Dust"...but I may be in a minority there...)
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2012
Considering that unfortunately we're not still in the 1980's, this is one of Bruce's best albums to date since then. He's still got it that's for sure! Classic Bruce Americana style mixed with some Celtic and gospel music and he's got some great hits on his hands. Personal favourites are 'Land Of Hope And Dreams', 'American Land', 'We Take Care Of Our Own', 'Shackled and Drawn', 'Death To My Hometown' and 'Easy Money'. If he turns up at any of the British festivals this year and sings any of these he'll go down a storm!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2012
This is the exact opposite of Working on a dream, and to a slightly lesser extent, Magic - both of those albums has a u.s.a/born to run like bombastic, melodic pop sound - Springsteen at his most melodically rich and catchiest - this however, whilst still bombastic - the production and drum sound sees to that - it is possibly his least melodic album in a sense - I would compare it to Devils and dust, but that had a melodic, country like charm of its own - this, on the other hand, is a dark, dramatic, angry record (though the irish sound of death to my home town got my feet a-tappin').
I have heard some fans and reviewers express dissappointment that there are not more outright memorable songs - and to an extent I would agree - you can write dramatic, brooding music and still have a few more identifiable, and stronger melodies than this album admittedly has, the second half in particular, up until the last two, seems to consist of mid tempo brooding "ballads" that lack anything particularly memorable (though the brief rapping and female vocals on rocky ground are actually pretty neat)- do not get me wrong, these songs are not bad, just not especially memorable and also fall a little flat after the opening slew of songs, which contain numerous highlights.
Personal highlights for me here include, first of all, Jack of All Trades, a ballad, and a beautiful one at that - a very devils and dust like song to these ears, and whilst maybe a little "dull" to some, to me it is one damn beautiful, mournful song - lovely melody in there and some touching, tender vocals. We then have the Irish influenced Death to my hometown, a rousing, dramatic number which manages to be one of the catchiest on the album. Ditto Shackled and drawn, which is sort of a rocker, and another rousing anthem which manages to be catchy without the overtly poppy melodies of the past two albums. The single, we take care of our own, sounds a bit typical at first, but it grows over time, and has sort of become one of my favourite Springsteen rockers recently. I am not as much of a fan of Land of Hope and Dreams as some, but the instrumentation in particular is rousing and, using this word AGAIN, dramatic. The last song sounds like an out-take from the seeger sessions - lushly melodic, old fashioned and folky - great way to finish the album.
So, overall, a HIGHLY enjoyable album. It is very front loaded, and this depression, the title track, you've got it and , to a lesser extent, rocky ground are largely unmemorable and a little bland, but as always, there is nothing outright bad on offer, and every song offers some degree of enjoyment, and the rockier and rootiser tracks like shackled and drawn, hometown and the final track go surprisingly nicely alongside the big, drum driven "ballads" on offer elsewhere - its an album both rootsy & charming and brooding & bombastic - quite possibly his least melodic album overall, it may appear tuneless to some, and sure, maybe the boss could have tried a tad harder to come up with some memorable, identifiable melodies, but this is springsteen experimenting and throwing the fans a curveball - never a bad thing, in my opinion. A strong, dark, powerful, enjoyable album - not perfect, but if you are a real springsteen fan, I do not see how you can not at least get SOMETHING from this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2012
As far as I am concerned, Springsteen is the greatest songwriter of my lifetime.
His music has been a constant source of inspiration to me since 1982 when I heard The River
album for the first time. The consistancy and quality of his songwriting since then has been quite astounding.
Wrecking Ball is just another great Springsteen album to add to the many already recorded. It's an angry,
"message" album. Bruce has got something to say, and he wants the whole world to hear it loud and clear.
Whilst Working on a Dream was a great album due to it's strong, lush pop melodies and it's inspiration
from 1960's pop music, Wrecking Ball's quality comes from the power and passion of it's composer.
Stand out tracks for me are the awesome Jack of all trades which is destined to become a Springsteen classic,
Death to my hometown, Rocky Ground (amazing), Wrecking Ball, and the rauchy You've got it.
Buy this album to hear the master at work. The man who for me, stands a class above all others in popular music.
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2012
Anyone seeking the thrills of 'Born to Run' or the garage pop/rock of 'Born in the USA' will find a different Springsteen on this new album. But it is a familiar Springsteen if you recall the artist's anger and disappointment that defined 'Darkness...' and the themes behind 'Nebraska' 'Tom Joad...' and 'Magic'. 'We take care of our own' is this album's opener, as ironic as the opener of 1984's 'Born in the USA', although Springsteen has gone to great lengths to ensure we understand that this is an ironic song...We DON'T take care of our own'! I'm a devout follower of this man's music so this is an unashamedly positive review, but there are moments in this new set of 13 songs that stand with his very best work. My favourite? - 'Jack of all trades' a beautiful and haunting waltz, perfectly describing one man's struggles in the current economic climate. For all Springtsteen's big themes, it's his ability to focus on the little man and his individual struggles that makes us feel like the guy's talking to us...personally. There no bombast in this track - when the horns kick in it sounds like an English village brass band accompanying him! Also, it's great to finally hear 'Land of hope and dreams', 'Wrecking Ball' and 'American Land' in their studio incarnations. This is Bruce's new decade statement on the world in which we live - whether you agree with his views or not, they're worth listening to on this album. Great.