That there was going to be a Springsteen album in my Top 10 rundown was never in doubt. Which album to pick was the difficulty. I was a bit of a latecomer to The Boss, having only started listening to his early work when "The Rising" came out . I had bought "Born In The USA" when it came out, and then sort of forgot about him in the late 80's and all through the 90's. But that all changed in 2003 when I went to see him live at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and I was converted.
I could easily have chosen the stark beauty of "Nebraska", the sheer romanticism of "Born to Run", the versatilty of "The River", the depth and passion of "The Rising"...I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. I know Springsteen is not to everyone's taste and that some fellow bloggers are not fans but I can't get enough of Bruce. So you will just have to indulge me for a short while as I eulogize The Boss....
Released in 1978, "Darkness On The Edge Of Town", this is the album that defines Springsteen. It is his most raw, stripped down and intense album where the optimism of his first three albums has waned but there is still the feeling that eventually things are gonna work out alright. Frustration, longing, and all the dark places that can be found in the soul are on display here, but he also doesn't allow anyone to give up, you fight it or you accept it, but you don't quit. The music and lyrics reflect the sense of anger he was feeling at the time but this is not a bleak album, with tracks like "The Promised Land" and "Badlands" defiantly sweeping away the darkness of some of the darker tracks. There is an awesome grandeur in the tone and the sound and the songwriting is consistently excellent as an older and more mature Bruce begins to face the trials of adulthood. This was also the album where The E Street Band really came into their own with Max Weinberg's drumming in particular sounding more assured and powerful than on previous albums. The sound is much harsher than any of Springsteen's other albums with some fantastic, searing guitar playing throughout. "Darkness"confirmed that Springsteen's talents were greater than the hype that had been a part of the "Born to Run" period, with some of the best songwriting Springsteen has ever done.
From the pounding intro of "Badlands" to the beautiful closure of "Darkness", via the poignant, heartbreaking jewel of the record that is "Racing In The Street", this album is flawless and is as good a rock and roll record as there ever has been, where Springsteen screams and howls some of his best lyrics with a conviction and intensity that is virtually unrivalled.
Some parts of today's post are maybe slightly overblown and pompous, but that was kinda deliberate as that is quite often the view that some have of Springsteen but, for me, he is The Boss and "Darkness"is his masterpiece.