Sound — 8
General Information: Born to Run (1976) was Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band's 3rd commercially released album and is largely considered their "breakout" album that really shot them in to the realm of mainstream musical success. It was very heavily promoted by Columbia records and upon its original release enjoyed a comfortable 29 week stay on the charts. As far as most fans are concerned, this album is the quintessential sound of early Springsteen and really Bruce in general. Musicians: Roy Bittan, Ernest Carter, Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, Suki Lahav, Danny Federici, David Sancious, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, David Sanborn, Richard Davis, Chuck Calello, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Mike Appel, Wayne Andre, and Steve Van Zandt.
Lyrics — 9
The Songs: 01.Thunder Road: this song is one of the best opening tracks on any album ever recorded in my opinion. It starts out with a piano and harmonica arrangement that gives you the idea that this is just gonna be a slow, melodic track. Well, after the first few minutes you see that that's not the case. With an awesome saxophone part and Bruce's voice eventually crescendo-ing into a controlled yell it really makes you wanna check out the rest of the album with enthusiasm! A classic track at any rate and one of my all-time favorite Side 1/Track 1's. 02.Tenth Avenue Freezeout: once again this is a track that starts out slow and sad, then really takes off. The lyrics to the song (in my interpretation) are at least in some way related to the formation of the E-Street Band itself. To me there are two highlights of this song. The first is the extremely catchy horn arrangement, escpecially the little trill they pull after each shout of "Tenth Avenue Freezeout!" The second highlight would be Bruce's vocals. Some of the best on the album they really show off his energy in his yelps and hollers just before the chorus. 03.Night: unlike the previous two songs, this doesn't try and fool you at the beginning. Right from the start it is an upbeat, energetic and romantic thrill ride that ends almost as soon as it starts, coming in at only 3:00. The lyrics tell of a man who, at night, runs off to meet up with his lover. It is an average "Born to Run-Style" song and isn't really one of the stand-out tracks on the album. 04.Backstreets: this long, sad song ends Side 1 and most definitely does so on a good note. It tells the story of two lovers who must hide their relationship and how that relationship eventually falls apart, much to the dismay of the narrator. The lead guitar work on this track is some of the best on the album and must be checked out. Bruce's vocals are full of emotional turmoil throughout the song and really are what holds together the mood of the song. A fitting end to the first side of an incredible album. 05.Born To Run: enough can't be said about this song. It is a masterpiece in every since of the word, from the music to the lyrics it's perfect. Starting out the second side with a fast snare drum intro it is the high point of the album. Right in the middle of the song there's an outstanding saxophone solo that segues into the softer bridge section the dives down into a descending riff that seems like it will never end. Then there's the sections where the bass drum is just absolutely pounding with enormous strength, taking complete control of the song in a pinch. If you only get to listen to one song from this album, this should be it. Musically one of the undisputed best songs ever written. Simply Amazing. 06.She's The One: with a starting melody that is prone to get stuck in your head, it's a wonder how this song is not more popular than it is. But it doesn't really "turn on" until after the heavy guitar part comes in to accompany the driving bass beat. Once again, a saxophone solo by Clarence is prominent, not that that's a bad thing, actually it's quite the opposite! A nice little track, but not a performance to get all riled up over. 07.Meeting Across The River: a down-tempo and very melodic song, it's one of the most haunting off the album. The piano melody is the basis for the song, but the trumpet part in the background is really what makes it great. The lyrics are the point in the song that sticks out the most since, like many other songs from the album, they tell a story of desperation, broken love and a last-ditch effort to survive in a corrupt and unfair world. 08.Jungleland: finally, we've come to the end of the album. But don't think that it's quite over yet because this 9 minute long epic is what brings it all home. Telling the story of two lovers named "Rat" and the "Barefoot Girl" it ends with Rat's vision of success being the very thing that ends up killing him. The song is also special because it features Clarence Clemons's most recognizable and emotional sax solo, which is the trademark of the song. Kept as a near-constant concert staple over the years, it usually is one of the last songs before the encore, ending the regular sets just as well as it ends this album.
Overall Impression — 10
This album as a whole is absolutely amazing. Musically, it is essentially a masterpiece and lyrically it's classic Springsteen. If you want to hear the E-Street Band at their best than look no further than this. This record features quite a few of Bruce's most celebrated hits along with a few gems that are ignored by most for reasons unknown. And you can't forget that iconic album cover with Bruce casually leaning on the "Big Man" Clarence Clemons, parodied many times over. If you want to get into the Boss, there's no better place to start than with Born To Run.