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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on October 26, 2007
This is an album to stir the loins of Bruce Springsteen fans, resurrecting the desperate, fist-waving bravura of much-loved classics "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA" in a life-affirming surge of rock and roll, soul, blues and gospel, all merged together in a Spector-esque wall of sound.
The drums go boom-cha-boom on "You'll Be Comin' Down", Clarence Clemons's sax punches a hole through "Living in the Future", and a church bell can even be heard ringing out on "Your Own Worst Enemy".
But, as on Springsteen's earlier masterpieces, the underlying sentiment is much darker and more subtle than the swaggering music implies.
As everyone knows, your own worst enemy is yourself, and Springsteen turns a mordant eye on the changes in his own country since 9/11.
This is his most intensely produced album in years, this also sounds like the most fun Springsteen has had in a studio since the Seventies.
"I just want to feel some rhythm," he insists on "Radio Nowhere", a typically defiant finger flip to corporate communications, still strangely believable coming from an artist of huge wealth himself.
It's Springsteen's most complex, textured work in years, as rich as any in his catalogue, with songs that both challenge, inform and entertain. He once observed, in his lyrics anthology "Songs", that a song's emotional centre is dependent on the fellowship the writer feels with his subject, that when a lyric falls perfectly into place, "your voice disappears into the voices of those you've chosen to write about".
On "Magic" this happens time and time again, as he proves himself a master of the empathy required to bring his characters to life in all their contradictory, multiple selves.
With the E Street Band back at his shoulder, Bruce reverts to the romantic idealism of their youth on "Girls In Their Summer Clothes", and to simple symbolism on the title track.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 23, 2007
After surviving more musical trends than most rock artists combined together, Bruce Springsteen has nothing left to prove. You know where you stand with Bruce: his music is pure rock and roll, with touches of country and pop sensibilities here and there. Although he has sometimes ventured in different avenues in recent years on albums such as "The ghost of Tom Joad", "Devils and dust" and "We shall overcome", his musical identity is as instantly recognizable as his powerful voice.

"Magic" is an album that deserves its title. It's a solid return to form for the Boss, who delivers twelve new songs (there's a gut-wrenching hidden track called "Terry's song") with no filler. The opening song (and debut single) "Radio nowhere" is a well-deserved kick at today's radio stations and demonstrates how out of touch they have become with people. The rest is just as strong; "Girls in their summer clothes", "Living in the future", "You'll be coming down", "I'll work for your love" and "Terry's song" are all amazing songs, while the title track and "Devil's arcade" provide an arresting change of pace. "Your own worst enemy" is arguably the highlight of the album, with its Spector-esque production and an inspired vocal performance from Bruce. And while the album might hardly be considered original or ground-breaking, Springsteen himself is an original and does what he does best on this thoroughly enjoyable album.

It's ironical that Bruce is living up to the prophecy of "Radio nowhere"; the album is a number one smash in America, but the single is getting very little airplay south of the border. Maybe it's time radio programmers get back in touch with the tastes of their audiences...
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on December 22, 2007
This is the kind of album I come across every so often. It's a piece of work that I know will be one of my favourites the first time I listen to it..... and it was. I played this back to back with the River and it was no contest. The River sounds so much more basic and same sounding compared to Magic. No comparison....Magic wins hands down. It's such a catchy album. Great thoughtful lyrics, great production, solid technical playing and passionate vocals. He will win a grammy for it and will tour it all over the world. It's right up there with Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge. There isn't a bad track on the album. I love it and can't keep it off my player. When I recently saw him in concert, it was the only time I can remember when I didn't want him to do all his older material because I love the new tracks so much I wanted to experience them live as opposed to some of his tired tracks like Cadillac Ranch.
Livin' In the Future sounds a little like 10th Avenue Freezeout but I think it's superior to it. You will hear traces of sounds and musical ideas on this album that harken back to various stages of his incredible career. Devil's Arcade would not be out of place on the Rising.
Girls With Their Summer Clothes is so catchy and happy it begs comparison with 60's Spector pop. How does this guy do it? He keeps being important and relevant to the rock world when so many of his peers are trivial or boring. He still has messages and they're packed in strong musical surroundings with good interplay with the E Street Band.
For those of you who think the Boss is over the hill, you are dead wrong!
I'd rather listen to Magic than most of his other work or that of other artists out there at this moment. This is an absolute classic. I don't mind filing Born To Run and Darkness and the Rising away for a while. This one is just too interesting and catchy for me to go back to the oldies. Give this a chance. It should be a no brainer. The others who panned it should go back to the Nebraska album and hide in their shells. It is trully one of the greatest albums....I know...... I own thousands of the greatest albums of all time and this baby is right up there.
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on November 3, 2007
Following my earlier review (below) on the very poor sound quality of Bruce Springsteen's new album (and that poor sound has provoked considerable comment on amazon.com), I purchased the 180 gram vinyl through amazon.com.
While still not a brilliant recording, it is so much better than the CD that those who have good turntable equipment should consider paying the extra and going for the LP.
The soundstage is deeper and wider; individual instruments are much clearer; the words come through better; and overall it sounds much less compressed. I (and many others) found the CD simply unpleasant to listen to. On LP, it's much easier to concentrate on and listen to the music and words, which is what it is all about.

CD review:

The real disappointment with Magic is not the content, but the very poor sound quality - at least on my CD copy, purchased from a major retailer in Alberta, Canada.

That actually is an understatement - the sound quality is dire, as many have pointed out in the reviews on amazon.com.

The entire CD sounds like a mp3 compression (perhaps it is) - the dynamic range is very compressed, individual instruments are muddy, and the soundstage is non-existent. For those used to, say, the very high quality of the recordings of the LP version of Born in the USA, or the CDs of The Rising, or even the recent Dublin sessions, this is a huge turn-off.

In fact, it sounds like a back-street garage recording. We have come to expect better from Springsteen's producers.

As I write this, my other half has come into the room where this CD is playing on my high end audiophile equipment - this is the first time she has heard the CD - and, totally unaware I am writing this, has just said: Is this a CD? It's terrible. It sounds like the radio.

Quite.

What a pity. Perhaps someone could report on the sound quality of the LP version, if they have managed to get hold of one in North America.

It is so poor, in 2007 terms, that I emphathize with those who have suggested that Springsteen recalls those CDs that have been issued.

So, if you are planning to buy this CD, download it for your mp3 player, rather than buying the CD for your stereo sound system.
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True Rock means breaking the mold and hacking the pieces into a new freedom. True Rock means cutting through all the bull like a hot knife through butter.
And the Boss is what true American Rock is today!

This album is full of instant classics, such as the amazing Radio Nowhere, the bright Livin'In The Future, the hammering Your Own Worst Enemy, the relentless You'll be Comin' Down and the majestic Devil's Arcade.

This is the real spirit of America - without the colored Security alerts; the FOX NEWS commentary; the fear to leave one's home; the hopelessness of another youth grinding war; the guilt of turning into a nation of small men fighting back with torture. This is the blue-collar pride of hard-working men and women keeping their hearts pure, their eyes clear and their dreams alive.

Don't mind the right-wing zealots flaming the Boss. His Rock is true. And the Truth cannot be spinned.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on April 1, 2008
Rarely do I listen to an album and think, "There isn't a single dud in the bunch", but that's what I thought as I listened to the final (hidden) cut. After listening to the entire album many times over, I'm now convinced it's one of his best, perhaps topped only by [according to my taste, of course] Tunnel of Love. There's a great mixture of musical styles, reflective lyrics for the poetry types, and - best of all - fantastic, memorable melodies. While most songwriters run out of melodies after 10 or 15 years at most, Springsteen has written one of his best collections after 30+ years in the business. Highlights for me include Gypsy Biker, Magic, I'll Work for Your Love, Livin' in the Future and, of course, Radio Nowhere (which may be my favourite Springsteen song after Atlantic City). And to think I had almost given up on album music!
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on March 18, 2008
The Boss is back - and bringing the E Street Band with him. This new album is an excellent rock album. "Radio Nowhere" is a great driving rock tune and brings back the wall of sound of the E Street Band. "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" is a wonderful singalong type rock song and will be sure to be played when I'm driving this summer with the top down. And who else would add a nonsense lyric that's just as singable. The rest of the songs are a great mix of great rock tunes and ballads and shows how the Boss has grown through his forays into folk and Irish music and brought that to his classic rock-and-roll. Any rock fan should give this album a good listen, and any Springsteen fan should immediately add this to their collection.
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on October 27, 2007
I wish people would stop comparing this album to Bruce and the E-Street Band's earlier days. The world has changed, we've all grown older. Move on! You're probably the same people who think that Born in the USA was his best work - it was his most commercial, not his best (IMHO). I happen to really like Magic. While there are a couple of songs that I'm not crazy about, I do love most of them. Devil's Arcade, Magic, Livin' in the Future - all excellent (and even better live if you get the opportunity). It's nice to have some new music worth listening to after being subjected to Umbrella-ella-ella and Sexy Back and the like, to the point of nausea over the past few months. I definitely recommend Magic!
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on January 17, 2012
Good presentation of the vinyl version of this album. It does contain a printed inner sleeve with lyrics and info, and it is a gate-fold single disc edition. This album has a high gloss finish on the paper, which is rather nice. While it is pressed on heavy weight vinyl, the master could have used a little more attention to detail in the high end. It may have even benefited from a two disc version because of the album's length, and this may be why the album sounds the way it does. Nevertheless, it is a rather inexpensive way to get the last couple Springsteen albums on vinyl if you need them to complete your collection. It would be nice to have a download included with it.
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on January 15, 2008
Re: all the notes on the production. I found the production to be different but certainly not deficient. It's not your usual top 40 mix with everything nicely separated for you; it's good old Spectoresque" wall of sound" approach. When working with the E street band Springsteen has always been a welcome return to the wall of sound approach. If you don't like that style you won't like this album. The intent is impressionistic not literal and IMO it succeeds brilliantly.

If you have problems with the production you need to turn up the volume.

Great CD depending on what you like - I love it.
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