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“Born in the USA” Album Review

 Columbia Records

The Bottom Line

An argument can easily be made that this is one of the best rock and roll albums of all time. In fact, maybe a viable argument could not even be made against that claim. Springsteen’s versatility allows him to take on the plight of Vietnam veterans within a driving rock anthem on one tune and then tap into the glowing warmth of bittersweet nostalgia on another. In short, he exhibits some kind of otherworldly Midas touch in all the different things he dares to try on a rock and roll album.


  • All 14 tracks are quality tunes, and almost all of those are classics.

  • A magical blend of often despairing themes with exuberant rock and roll.

  • Rarely has accessibility been so perfectly married with literate songwriting.


  • The bar is set so high that a couple of songs could have been cut to make an even stronger album.


  • This is a 20th century masterpiece that rivals some modern fiction in its narrative intensity.

  • At the same time it’s grand entertainment, displaying the sheer joy of musicians at their peak.

  • Springsteen may have never been particularly of the ’80s, but he undeniably crafted an ’80s classic.

Guide Review – “Born in the USA” Album Review

Starting with the title track, Springsteen announces that he has clearly entered a new decade with full grasp of the latest prevailing sounds and styles. At the same time, he remains true to a straight-ahead rock and roll approach that had already served him well for a decade of superstardom. “Born in the USA” is fueled by Roy Bittan’s infectious synth, but its true strength lies in Springsteen’s fierce lyrical narrative depicting the plight of the forgotten man, a theme he’s often plumbed.

After that, the highlights are too numerous to mention, but it’s rewarding to try. “Downbound Train” is a masterfully forlorn tale of romantic loss perfectly seeped in an atmosphere of longing. “No Surrender” and “Bobby Jean” are both sterling fist-pumpers, full of time-worn determination for a better tomorrow and wistful appreciation of the past. “Glory Days” is one of the best songs about nostalgia ever written, and “My Hometown” closes out the album with proper gravity for a nation’s lost innocence.

Aside from Springsteen’s dead-on command of his themes, the E Street band supplies stunningly effective layers of musical accompaniment. As always, Clarence Clemons offers tasteful and appropriate saxophone parts, but the haunting use of keyboards by Bittan and Danny Federici contributes heavily to the album’s constantly rich sound. From songwriting to instrumentation to thematic heft to joyous evocation, this classic album is fortified with everything that makes music beloved and important.


June 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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