Tuneage Tutelage Album Review - Working On A Dream

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Thursday, January 29, 2009

COUCH NOTE: This is a post that was taken down due to my including an audio clip of the title song...I am reposting without the audio clip...

Yesterday in my journey through my favorite blogs I came across not one, but two reviews on the new Bruce Springsteen CD, Working On A Dream, and one of those sent me off to read another review. The buzz for this album is sky high. Rolling Stone Magazine hailed it…yet others have said it was rushed, and not worthy.

I received my promo copy of the CD on Tuesday and it was playing during the day yesterday at work.

Let’s start with the one negative I have (and it seems I am not alone on this), once again Bruce seems to have totally disregarded the look of the CD cover.

Bruce has taken crap from all sides over the years on his boring, overdone album/CD covers and once again we are subjected to a weird one.

My first impression when I opened the envelope and the CD slid out was, “Huh, Black Velvet Bruce”. Bruce also seems to be in love with being portrayed using sepia-toned images (think Magic, Devils & Dust, The Seeger Session). Who told you that sepia was cool Bruce?

Sure it is being picky, but hey….as JOHN at "Altijiranga Mitjina” said I would have preferred he use the shot that is on the inside of the CD…

But on to the music…We open with the longest studio song ever by Bruce “Outlaw Pete” a tale of a life of crime that began at 3-months old. The hero of the song continually asks the question “I’m Outlaw Pete, can you hear me?” Someone better than I can try and analyze the meaning behind this song, I will just say it certainly is an ambitious start to this new CD. The music behind Bruce’s wailing vocals is lush with strings mixed with the unmistakable sound of the E Street Band.

“My Lucky Day” is vintage Bruce. Straight ahead rock and roll punctuated by a Clarence sax blast right in the middle.

“Working On A Dream”, the title track, as y’all heard yesterday evokes the sound of the storyteller in Bruce. The music behind him is more minimal then the previous song…Bruce’s vocals mixed up front. A song of hope and promise, it reminds me of the early Bruce, looking to find a way out of the small town Jersey shore “I’m working on a dream, though it can feel so far away, I’m working on a dream, and our love will make it real someday.”

Now we come to a song that has been described as ‘the worst song of his career’ in one review to ‘enchanting’ in another. “Queen Of The Supermarket” begins with a simple piano & acoustic guitar line and quiet vocal and tells the story of a man with a yearning for the checkout girl at the supermarket. Stanza three brings the band in quietly at first as the story unfolds and then vintage E Street fills your speakers with rich backing vocals.
As has been pointed out by others, this song also brings us to the first use of the “f-word” by Bruce as he sings “As I lift my groceries into my cart, I turn back for a moment and catch a smile, that blows this whole f**king place apart” …and the chorus builds until the band falls away leaving strings wistfully filling the void while the beep of a check out scanner fades away and the song quietly comes to an end.

“What Love Can Do” – Bruce doing as Bruce does.

“This Life” actually begins with a Stax-esque sound but it never lives up to the potential of the first few bars…probably the song I was least impressed with on the entire CD

“Good Eye” is next up and LAYLA of Layla’s Classic Rock said so perfectly, you hear the “Reverend Bruce preaching the gospel of rock and roll to the masses. His vocals are filtered to give it that ‘old-time radio’ voice…blasting from the speakers to the heathen souls out on the prairie. The song even adds some banjo to really set the mood.

“Tomorrow Never Knows” follows and in perfect symmetry evokes the sounds of the early Bob Dylan. The sandy strumming on the guitar and Max using brushes on the snare.

“Life Itself” is a song of angst. A tale of love found and lost. It pulls at your heartstrings in the way Bruce has done so many times in the past. “Why do thing that we treasure most, slip away in time. Till to the music we grow deaf, to God’s beauty blind”. It is not the lyrics that grabbed me on this song – though they did – as much as what the band in doing in the background. Listen to the guitars of Bruce, Nils and Stevie interplaying in the background. Danny’s organ adds another layer to the entire symphony of sounds. This is one of my favs on the whole CD.

“Kingdom Of Days” begins and I immediately heard strains of the “Asbury Park” album. Except, then the strings and horns fill the background. Another story of love, love that lasts a lifetime, “And I count my blessings that you’re mine for always, we laugh beneath the covers and the wrinkles and the grays…”

“Surprise Surprise” had me shaking in my seat as I listened. It is apparent on this album that Bruce has truly found happiness in his life. This is an upbeat song of love and joy. The band is in perfect synchronicity on this song. Listen closely and hear why the E Street Band is one of the best collections of musicians out there today. And the repeating harmonies coming from opposing speakers at the end is just perfect.

“The Last Carnival”, complete with accordion by Jason Federici, hit me as a tribute to the great Danny Federici who we lost this year. I may be totally off-mark, but for me this is what I experienced as I listened to the lines “Sundown, sundown, empty are the fairgrounds, where have you gone my handsome Billy”

A silence occurs and then the bonus track from the movie “The Wrestler”, the new Mickey Rourke movie begins with a church-like organ, ethereal in nature and the Bruce with his acoustic guitar tells the story of the character in the first person, telling us that he is not some god-like creature in fact he is so much less. As Layla alluded to it has that same feel as “Streets Of Philadelphia”, another song that touches me deeply when I listen to it. “Have you ever seen a one armed man punchin’ at nothing but the breeze, if you’ve ever seen a one armed man then you’ve seen me…”

Bruce played all instruments on this cut and it a bare bones song.

Over the course of the last day and a half I have listened to this CD probably 3 times and each time I listen I hear something different. A new guitar line…a new harmony line.

I am a Bruce Springsteen fan. There have been albums that did nothing for me. There have been albums that I have worn out due to numerous listens. I probably have more of an affinity to the older Bruce aka Asbury Park, Darkness, Tunnel Of Love…

This is an album everyone who even faintly likes Bruce should add to their collection. Start to finish the music is solid, the lyrics evoke emotions and the entire package is just P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

2 Of Your Sparks

  1. katherine. Says:
  2. not too shabby for a 60 year old...actually an amazing talent.

    the walmart thing sucks...

  3. LAC Says:
  4. Thanks for taking the time to do this post. I have been wondering if it was worth buying, and I think I am going to grab it tonight.


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