Friday, November 05, 2004


Listen To Your Junk Man

by Glenn Cripes

Recognize these guys? They played with Bruce Springsteen before he got that guy from The Sopranos and the drummer from Conan O'Brien. The two fellows in the middle have gone to Pete Best-ville, it's Friday again and the LP is The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, Bruce Springsteen's 2nd album.

The year was 1973, and Bruce's first LP was praised in some circles, scorned in others, and lost in a sea of 'New Dylans' of the era. It would be 10 more years before Bruce hit the real big time stadium circuit. Back then The Eagles and CSNY ruled the airwaves, and the only people who knew about Bruce Springsteen were readers of Creem or Crawdaddy, club crawlers in Jersey or Philly, or people with a good FM station in their town.

This sophomore effort finds Bruce in West Side Story romantic Jersey mode. Cars were mentioned, but not focused on....this was more about hanging on the boardwalk than racing in the streets.

The first cut, 'The E Street Shuffle' is a throwaway fake funk bar band toss off, but up next is 'Sandy'. The cantina accordian kinda puts me off, but when Bruce whispers 'Sandy--that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me...', it hits me where I live. All that 'the aurora is risin behind us' is kid poetry, but 'she said she wouldn't set herself on fire for me anymore' is the real deal.

This record also gives us 'Kitty's Back' and 'Rosalita' which set the template for Bruce's 3rd encore rave-ups for years to come. This stuff is fun live, but not much to chew on otherwise.

'Incident on 57th St.' rises above the West Side Story hokum with the refrain;
'Puerto Rican Jane, oh won't you tell me what's your name
I want to drive you down to the other side of town where paradise ain't
so crowded'
--it works--it's desperate longing with a tune. Too bad it's a fleeting respite in an overlong playlet about people Bruce probably never met. I wish songwriters would stick to songs about girls and being miserable. Those songs are always the best.

It doesn't hit me until the last song, 'New York City Serenade' what Bruce achieves with this record. Once again Bruce gives us some cock and bull midnight in Manhattan travelogue about some guy named Billy and Diamond Jackie which is supposed to climax in some halfass gospel 'No she won't take the train' call and response that doesn't really ring true, but then I relaxed and let Bruce take me by the hand into the twilight of a hot New Jersey night and it struck me that this is what Van Morrison does when he goes 'into the mystic'. Except this is from the vantage point of a regular Jersey guy with a sense of humor as opposed to a grumpy Irish dwarf with a chip on his shoulder who has no friends.

Bruce would find his true voice in his next and best record 'Born To Run' a couple of years later, but this one is worth checking out. Bruce wasn't always a self important putz.

i love fridays. fav line:" I wish songwriters would stick to songs about girls and being miserable. Those songs are always the best."
I like Cripes more when he's giving the boot to a crap album that deserves being pissed on. Hey Cripes, you should have reviewed The Rising instead . . .
nice to see all the reaction to cripes but, hey, don't try to pigeon-hole the guy, cripes is cripes. if he laughs he laughs and if he cries he cries, and he's not afraid to say so.

i've had several offers from major international music and cuntural magazines for cripes but i've refused them all. i'm proud to say i have cripes under contract for the next 37 years. rock on, glenn!
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