Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vinyl Vednesday 3/23/2011

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but usually turns out that way. This week’s is Bruce Springsteen-themed, on account of Versus this month. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973) on black, Born to Run (1975) on black, and a live bootleg (date unknown) on black.

Place of Purchase: Wild and the bootleg were inherited from my Uncle Mike. Born to Run came from Legends at the Plymouth Meeting Mall (R.I.P.).

Thoughts: In case you missed my thoughts on The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle earlier this month, here’s a recap. Wild is a little more confident than Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and better produced to boot. Its got some of Bruce’s best songs (“Rosalita (Come Out Tonights),” “The E Street Shuffle”), but some of the material is also a little too jammed out compared to what Bruce did before or after this record. Still, ’70s Bruce is unimpeachable, Wild included.

That said, I’ll always prefer Born to Run. I can’t figure out which side is better, though. Side 1 has the grand “Thunder Road” the boogie-woogie of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” but side 2 feels like a perfect mini-opera. “Born to Run” establishes young, desperate characters in love,” “She’s the One” takes it to the next level, and “Meeting Across the River” sets the lovers up for a fall. And then there’s “Jungleland.” An epic piece of songwriting, it’s got guitar, saxophone, organ, and piano solos galore. [SPOILER ALERT] When the guy dies at the end, it hits me hard every time.

My uncle’s live bootleg has been a beguiling gift. It’s a single, unlabeled LP from what is presumably a two- or even three-piece set. The E Street Band sounds on fire during “Born to Run,” but then they chill it out with a lengthy reinterpretation of “The E Street Shuffle.” The set is clearly before Darkness on the Edge of Town, but it feels like something totally different. It’s looser in structure; the drumming reminds me more of Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez than it does Max Weinberg. Either way, the live version of “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” is killer.

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