Review Summary: Young in the summertime
The year is 1973 and bands like Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath are in full form. Teenagers are running amok and are fortunate enough to live through some of the greatest years in music history. Progressive Rock is at its height and rock itself is in no way slowing down or coming to an end just yet. If you are lucky enough to know, Bruce Springsteen just recently released his debut album “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” Although not very popular, it is very well received by critics and those who have heard him in New Jersey are sold and ready for the sophomore release.
Released in September of 1973 is “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle.” Only eight months after his debut. Bruce is hungry to say the least and the ideas are flowing like a river. Listening to “Greetings…” makes it very clear that this kid was born to be a song writer. But, the talent and dedication with Bruce is at a much higher level everyone will soon find out.
The album begins with an unfocused array of horns and then soon settles into a funky jazz rhythm that we will not see much ever again in Bruce’s career. The wah-wah pedal is used perfectly to back the horns and bass which lead the track. Bruce’s lyrics are focused and fun as he describes summer days down at the jersey shore. The vocals come to an end around the 3 minute mark and are followed by superb guitar work from Bruce showcasing his skills. This is a perfect opening to the album and sets the tone early for what is an amazing summer album that represents the Jersey Shore astonishingly.
After “The E-Street Shuffle” comes the love song “4th of July (Sandy).” Again amazing lyrics and vocals backed by an accordion and somewhat average but fitting nonetheless drumming. Bruce portrays life on the boardwalk in the summer while describing a girl who he lost but ultimately will always care about. Emotional lyrics including, “I spoke with her last night, she said she won’t set herself on fire for me anymore” and “This boardwalk life is through, I think you oughtta quit this scene too.” Superb writing all around.
Listening to the first two tracks certify that Bruce has already matured as a songwriter and is much more focused overall in his delivery. Track 3 known as “Kitty’s Back” assures us even further and is so far the truest rock n’ roll song he has written. Also featuring some of his best guitar work to date, which lets us know he isn’t just a songwriter, but also a very gifted guitar player as well. Up next is “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” which includes, again, fantastic lyrics (don’t expect much less at this point) and is a nice little song about circus life. Although this is probably the low light of the album, it is a good change of pace falling dead center in the middle of the album and is a great lead into the last three killer tracks.
Tracks five, six, and seven on the “The Wild and the Innocent…” are easily three of Bruce’s greatest songs of all time. The amount of passion, inspiration, and emotion that goes into these songs is impeccable. The first of the three being “Incident on 57th Street” in which Bruce sings about life in the city backed by beautiful piano, organ and guitar. Hearing this is a classic moment in Bruce’s career. You can literally hear him breaking through barriers which he was destined to pass as a writer. Truly a critical moment in his legacy and a big factor in the transition from small songs to epic masterpieces (i.e. Jungleland). “Rosalita” follows after. Not much to say about this one. Just a classic Bruce track packed with energy and saxophone. One of his most famous songs.
The closer of the album “New York City Serenade” is easily one of the best songs ever written. Beautifully orchestrated with strings, Bruce tells the story of a young girl living the wild life in the city. This is one of his most emotional songs by far and one of his best vocal performances. Very similar to Born to Run’s closer, but in the end I would take this tune over Jungleland any day. Clocking in at 10 minutes in length as well. “New York City Serenade” really sits you down and grabs your attention till the bitter end. You don’t want it to end but you know it must. Just like a warm, summer day. “The Wild, The Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle” is Bruce Springsteen breaking out of his shell. He is ready now to shock the world. This album is being 18 years old in the summer time all bottled into 47 minutes, because it truly does happen very fast.