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4.3 out of 5 stars120
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
on May 22, 2003
"Born in the U.S.A." is an amazingly popular album, one of the biggest ever recorded: it has 6 huge radio hits, plus another song ("I'm Goin' Down") which was also ocassionally heard on the radio, and is one of the album's best tunes. Everything about this album is big; "Born in the U.S.A.," "Cover Me," and "Darlington County" are arena-ready anthems that lead everything off with a big bang. In fact, the first four songs are rollicking and loud, Springsteen and his band in top songwriting form, playing their hearts out with gusto. The beautiful, mid-tempo, more laid-back "Downbound Train" finally lets the album breathe a little, and showcases Springsteen at his most poignant. Other poignant songs include the mesmerizing and well-known "I'm On Fire," and the album's closer, "My Hometown."
In its entirety, this album is a snapshot synopsis of working-class America in the late 20th century. It's well known by now Springsteen's disfavor with Ronald Reagan using "Born in the U.S.A." as the signature song for his 1984 re-election campaign, but that's just half the story. In my opinion, other songs on this record sybolize American patriotism in much more quaint but larger ways.
What else can be said about this larger-than-life album? It's 12 very tuneful songs that are at times personally introspective, while at other times they showcase Springsteen's grand sense of fighting for the common man through his lyrics and music.
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on May 17, 2003
On the surface, it seems like Bruce Springsteen made a 360 degree turn from his sixth album, the hushed, sparse and dreary Nebraska to his seventh, the chiming, slick and energetic Born in the USA. Take a minute and read through the lyrics, though, and you will see that USA resumes Nebraska�s underlining themes of hard times and lost hope. In �No Surrender� Springsteen describes youthful dreams withering with age; in �Downbound Train,� he narrates the story a man who finds �the good life� pulled out from under him and in �My Hometown,� he depicts the erosion of a middle-American paradise. Even �Dancing in the Dark,� commonly associated with the Boss pulling a young, starry-eyed Courtney Cox onstage, boils with discontent (�I check my look in the mirror/I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face/Man, I ain't getting nowhere/I'm just living in a dump like this�). Then there is the title track, mistaken by campaigning conservatives and the public at large as a zealous ode to the red, white and blue, but actually a Vietnam Vet�s bitter diatribe about the country that forgot him. The glossy production and arena-ready choruses may have hidden it from casual listeners (and with sales of over 15 million, this disc attracted a lot of casual listeners), but this is one gritty album. Ultimately, it doesn�t matter if the lyrics and the arrangements work towards opposite ends. The one thing they have in common always shines through and that�s passion.
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on April 18, 2003
This album has sold over ten million copies, and threw off no fewer than seven (!) top ten hits - more than half of its twelve tracks.
That many record buyers can't be wrong, eh?
Well, they're not. For the most part, anyway, although I suppose the hype surrounding the "Born In The USA" album was to some degree the result of a lot of people (Ronald Reagan's witless campaign staff among them) believing that the title song was a statement of patriotism when it was in fact a bitter indictment of the "system", and they simply had to get "that album with that song on it".
"Born In The USA" is indeed a glorious, catchy rocker, though, and the remaining six hit songs ("Cover Me", "No Surrender", "I'm On Fire", "I'm Going Down", "Dancing In The Dark" and the only #1, "My Hometown") are all fine songs as well. But the album does contain its share of mediocrities, and song for song it doesn't quite measure up to Springsteen's finest moment, the double-disc "The River" from 1980, which to me stands proudly as his single greatest work.
That's not to say that you should avoid "Born In The USA". It has some of Springsteen's most accessible and fun songs, first and foremost the straigh-ahead rocker "Dancing In The Dark", the rollicking "Cover Me" and the anthemic "Glory Days"..
If you're only going to buy a handful of Bruce Springsteen's twelve studio and three live albums (four if you count "Chimes Of Freedom"), make this one of them, along with "The River", "Born To Run", "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" and "18 Tracks".
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on December 6, 2002
Although he had his commercial breakthrough with Born To Run in 1975, and achieved mainstream success with The River in 1980, it was 1984's Born In The U.S.A. that catapaulted Bruce Springsteen into superstardom and made him a household name. It is an album that is, in many ways, paradoxical. The absolute antithesis of his previous album - the solo acoustic, stark, desolate Nebraska - it incorporates what were, at the time, contemporary sounds, the songwriting found here is obviously something deeper and more prodound than your typical pop/rock fare, circa 1984. Though the songs themselves are upbeat, the lyrical fare is fairly typical Springsteen: enlightening portraits (usually first-person) of America's downtrodden, dispossessed, and left behind. This creates a kind of juxtaposition that, like most of Don Henley's 80s work, makes for some interesting and refined, if not exactly elitist, listening. From the title track (which ranks right up there with Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 as the most widely misinterpreted rock song ever), which features the absolutely monolithic drumming of the virtuoso Max Weinberg; to Dancing In The Dark, a depressing, yet hopeful, track which also features a danceable synth line; to popular hits with semi-serious sentiments like Cover Me and the ironic Glory Days; to the elegaic closer, My Hometown, there are many fine examples of fine populist writing here. In addition to the contemporary-sounding tunes, there are also some songs - Darlington County, Bobby Jean - that echo back to a more 50s-era rock 'n' roll sound. However, all of these apparent strengths also bring to the forefront the album's inherent inner contradiction - was Bruce justified in singing these lyrics over the populist arrangements? One wonders if there was record company pressure after the stark, solo acoustic Nebraska - despits its going Top 10 and selling over a million copies - to release a more commercial album, or if Bruce was simply following his muse. At any rate, certain of the songs - Working On The Highway is a good example - would probably have worked much better in a more Nebraska-like arrangement. There is a somewhat not-so-ironic clash between the "work-a-day Everyman" lyrics and the big arrangement and shiny production. It would have seemed a lot more honest in a stripped-down setting. But then again - would it? One might well ask if Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan's early songs about the dispossed and downtrodden would've spoken such volumes if they had had nifty synthesizers to play over the top of them to woo the masses - and, of course, whether or not they would have done so. In any case, this is still a fine album - solid songwriting, strong musical backing, and featuring some great, if unconventional, singing from the intimitable Bruce. Although it lacks the maturity, and possibly the honesty, of his very best albums, this is still a fine Springsteen album that any fan of his will want to pick up - and probably the first thing that a casual fan will go for.
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on August 20, 2001
I remember that I always used to listen to this in the car when I was a kid - my parents liked it. The result was that the first time I consciously played it, when I was 16 or so, more than half the songs were already embedded in my subconscious. I'm On Fire, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark, the title track. It IS misunderstood, but hey. It's still ace. Special mention must go to my favourite song there - "No Surrender" - a rock and roll classic. The emotion in the song is certainly simplistic but that is its beauty. Untainted by cynicism, it is a rare blast of unfettered hope and belief in the redemptive power of music which gives me goosebumps. "I wanna sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lovers bed, with the wide open country in my eyes, and theses romantic dreams in my head...because we made a promise and swore we'd always remember, no retreat, baby, no surrender." I also love Bobby Jean - I just can't help but stare wistfully into the distance and close my eyes as he sings - "Well maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere, some bustling train, travelling along/some motel room, there'll be a radio playing/and you'll hear me sing this song/well if you do, you'll know I'm thinking of you/and all the miles inbetween/now I'm just calling one last time, not to change your mind/but just to say I miss you baby/good luck, goodbye/Bobby Jean." In truth, each song deserves a mention, and although sometimes the stadium pomp does jar slightly (am I the only one who occasionally find the title track just a bit TOO musically bombastic?) it is still irrevoacly an ace record, and well worth it.
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on May 28, 2001
It's Memorial Day, 2001, and I'm getting ready to drive over to the local 'burg to cover the ceremonies for the paper. I'm sure I'll see flags flying, a few vets from World War II and Korea, a few Gulf War vets, and a handful of Vietnam Vets.
And I'm willing to bet, I'll hear "Born In The USA" blasting from more than a few car stereos. Because, for all the nauseating co-opting of this music by Ronald Reagan and others, that is who this album was really directed at, and that's who really understood it the best: mid-life baby boomers who were in the war or were of that age. Springsteen, like Townshend before him, understood his audience, his generation, and he spoke to them first and foremost.
Ignore the claims of the Right and the Left that this is some kind of endorsement or a political party or dogma. This may be an album with a political tilt, but that tilt is towards people--people caught in the war, caught out of work, caught in jail--and tilted away from parties and campaigns and endorsements. The song "Born In The USA" doesn't say the war was right, it doesn't say the war was wrong. It just says the war was holy hell on the people who went to fight it, and it was holy hell on their families.
I think BORN IN THE USA acknowledges the divisions in America, and nostalgizes the character's "Glory Days" only to point out the character's growing disconnect from society. They all feel that they were part of something bigger--a family, a team, a friendship, a platoon, a job--but now they don't have that connection. Springsteen said, when talking about NEBRASKA, that isolation was the most dangerous thing in the world. BORN IN THE USA is full of characters who understand that, and worry that they are becoming isolated.
To me, the heart of this LP is "Bobby Jean," a song Springsteen wrote for Little Stevie, who left the band during BORN IN THE USA:
"In some motel room there'll be a radio playing, and you'll here me sing this song. Well, if you do, you'll know I'm thinking of you and all the miles in between, and I'm just calling one last time, not to change your mind, but just to say I miss you, baby. Good luck. Good bye."
It's more than just Springsteen's farewell to a former bandmate--it's Springsteen joining in that nostalgic farewell his characters are going through on the LP.
Vets--Vietnam Vets in particular--talk about being frozen in time, stuck at 18. They say the war is never far from them, and the friends they lost are always on their mind. Springsteen and BORN IN THE USA appealed to them, I think, because the album doesn't make judgements; it simply observes that life's hard times, life's good times, and everyone you meet along the way stay with you, effect you, become you.
And, in the end, on "My Hometown," the singer looks around him. He shows his son where all the good and bad took place. He tells him to remember it all.
And then he tells him that they're leaving. The kids who fought to get out of town on BORN TO RUN are finally leaving town on BORN IN THE USA, but it's not with the same hope they had then.
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on September 7, 1999
On the surface, it would appear that this, the album that made Springsteen a Big Name, is a cheerful, pop confection---but appearances can be deciving. If anything, this is even a bleaker album than NEBRASKA. This is most evident on "Darlington County," where two guys try to take Prince's advice, i.e., party like it's 1999 and to hell with the world's problems---a stinging indictment of this country's obsession with, to quote the title of a book, amusing itself to death ; "Glory Days, " a sad tale of the high-school popular kids who have become in adulthood exactly the kind of "nobodies" they once so smugly ridiculed; "Dancing In The Dark," a song of deep parinoia, and the title track in which a Vietnam vet comes to think of his American birthright as an utter, absolute curse.
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on April 29, 2003
It is funny how many [people] think the title track on this album is a pro-America song. Try listening to the song. The song is about a tough, hard life, so many Americans live. It is a play on words, he singing about being born in the USA, and how that is supposed to mean a great life of prosperity, but the character of the song had a [bad] life. Being a citizen of the USA didn't change that. When I first heard the song, it made me [upset] that he was knocking the US. Then so many people saw it as like a 4th of July theme.
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on January 24, 2000
This recording is fully loaded with great songs. No Surrender is probably one of Bruce's best songs. And how many songs were singles on radio back in the mid eighties? I believe seven. It possibly was a little bit overplayed way back then and the songs are not as sophisticated as Born To Run and earlier works. However, the lyrics are written from the heart and mind and performed with emotion that only Bruce can give us. Another winner for the Bruce-Man.
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on December 15, 2013
My Dad really wanted this CD for Christmas, but you can't find it in any stores. I chose the 3-8 business day shipping option, not wanting to pay $20 for shipping and handling, and I wasn't expecting it to arrive for at least a week at this time of year, so I was ecstatic when I received it the very next day! It had a small crack in the case, which is why I gave 4 stars, but hey, as long as the CD works fine I'm not too picky about the case :) Great service :)
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