Bruce rages against the machine

There have been suggestions that Wrecking Ball is Bruce Springsteen’s best album in 3 decades, That might be a bit of a stretch but it’s certainly his most topical and direct collection since Born In The USA.

Bruce is addressing the American heartlands and bewailing the state of the republic with some of his fiercest lyrics yet. Like Born In The USA, the album opens with a song that has the rabble-rousing chorus of a patriotic anthem, but lyrics that address the USA’s inequalities.

We Take Care Of Our Own will appeal to every faction of Springsteen’s rabid fanbase, but there are flourishes of inventiveness on the album that will surprise many and perhaps even alienate a few.

Rocky Ground even flirts with hip-hop on a brooding, spiritual take on hard times that benefits from being more subtle and less strident than a lot of the material on the album.

The title track is brilliantly defiant, reworking a song about a football stadium into a rallying cry against destructive economic cutbacks and shutdowns. Death To My Hometown is equally angry and sounds a lot like The Pogues in their 80s heyday.

Traditionalist fans will swoon happily at Land Of Hope And Dreams, in which Springsteen throws everything but the kitchen sink into an emotive country-gospel epic, made all the more evocative by the saxophone swirls of the late Clarence Clemons. It’s not the best track on an engaging and bold album, but it’s the one that showcases Springsteen’s unique grasp on all the elements of great rock 'n' roll.

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