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Bruce's Break Up Album,
This review is from: Tunnel of Love (Audio CD)
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.