(NOTE: Music That Sucks is the correct opinion of the author. If you disagree than you too must be a "downhome, midwest-type" rocker from New Jersey.)
Music has had plenty of poseurs come and go. A great example would be Vanilla Ice, who claimed he was "hardcore" and went to high school with Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew. With only one hit to his name, Mr. Van Winkle does not qualify for induction into MTS, but a poseur who came out long before him most certainly does. He set out to convince the world that he was a simple rocker, gritty, dirty, and "down-home". The unenlightened might even believe this man came from somewhere like Nebraska, or Indiana like future inductee John Melencamp. Truth is, this "midwest" rocker hails from New Jersey. Now when I think "Bible Belt" or "America's Heartland", I don't think Hoboken.
Bruce Springsteen is not from Hoboken actually, more like Asbury Park. Far from the midwest, Asbury Park is along the Jersey Shore. Now before I go on some of you may be asking yourselves, "why does this asshole keep mention the midwest?" Well first off, fuck you for calling me an asshole, and secondly, we'll get to that later. As a teenager Springsteen started to get into Rock and Roll, playing in various bands that went nowhere. By the early 1970's he had adopted the persona of "folk rocker" and started playing in and around New York's Greenwich Village. Apparently a record exec heard him, and in 1972 he signed with Columbia Records.
Bringing into the studio many of the NJ-based artists he played with in his early years, his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ was released in January of 1973. The album was ignored by the general public, but the first track "Blinded By The Light" became a #1 hit for Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1977. You've probably heard the Mann version, which has to have one of the most misheard lyrics in history. Where Mann sings "revved up like a deuce", it sounds like "wrapped up like a douche". Even though I know the real lyric I still can't help thinking of Summer's Eve. Another, less well known misheard lyric in the song is when Mann sings "little early birdy came by in his curly wurly" sounds something like "little burly pearly gave my anus curly wurlies". Needless to say the buttcheeks clinch whenever I hear that line.
In September of '73 Springsteen released his sophmore effort, The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle. The album recieved critcally acclaim, which is usually the case as far as album sales go. This second album fell before the cardinal rule, but it should be noted that both of these first two albums have since gone platinum. In between albums Bruce made revisions to his backup band, now known as "The E Street Band". The main players included Clarence Clemens, guitarist "Miami" Steve Van Zant (no relation to Van Zant's in Lynyrd Skynyrd), and drummer Max Weinberg, who currently is the in-house drummer for Conan O'Brien's late night show.
With Columbia threatening to drop Springsteen if he did not produce a hit, Born To Run was released in 1975. The album saved Bruce's career, but subjected an unsuspecting public to Springsteen's pseudo-folk rock as the title track made the Top 40 and the album itself made the Top Ten. He waited until 1978 to release his fourth album, Darkness At The Edge Of Town. With other "heartland" phonies like Bob Segar polluting the charts Springsteen was starting to blend in with the crowd. Although the album did fairly well, it failed to match the success of Born To Run.
When the worst decade in the history of music, the 1980's came around, Springsteen was ready and willing to cash in with his shitty music. In 1980 he released a double-album titled The River. The album topped the charts, and the single "Hungry Heart" became Bruce's first to make the Top Ten. Springsteen, not sure what do with this new found sucess, released Nebraska in 1982. The album tanked, and all appeared safe as far as more music coming from the man who wishes he was a farm hand. Of course that means the worst was yet to come.
In 1984 Springsteen would reach megastardom with the album Born In The USA. This album can best be described as an eyesore for the ears, with such horrible songs as the title track, "Dancing In The Dark" (the MTV video features a young Courtney Cox), "Glory Days", and "My Hometown". The album contained seven hit singles in all and sold over ten million copies. Springsteen had officially "arrived", and I began banging my head against the wall hoping the music would go away.
A massive tour followed, and through many of these videos Springsteen portrayed himself as a regular joe you would find in a small Kansas town rather than Asbury Park. Bruce had obviously looked at the success of other artists like Mellencamp and sold out his Northeastern roots. In 1985 he contributed to the grand celebration of suckdom, "We Are The World", and appeared at Live Aid. The following year he released a five-LP, 3 CD live album called Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band Live 1975-1985, which went to #1 on the album charts.
After another prolonged tour, Bruce fired the E Street Band in 1989. In March of 1992 he released two albums at the same time (Human Touch and Lucky Town). Although the albums did well they failed to achieve the success of his previous work. Springsteen appeared on MTV's Unplugged in 1993, but he decided after just one song to play the rest of his set plugged in. In 1994 he recorded "The Streets Of Philadelphia" for the soundtrack to the movie Philadelphia. What we have here is an older Bruce mumbling his way through a putrid song. Of course, the song became a Top Ten hit. The song even garned the man known as "The Boss" Grammys and Oscars. There is absolutely no accounting for good taste. Around the same time he reassembled the E-Street Band to record some new tracks for a greatest hits album that shot straight to #1. In 1999 Springsteen was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
The good news is that we have weathered most of the Springsteen storm. The bad news is, much like his home state of New Jersey, his career has an undescribable stench that you never forget.
Bruce Springsteen, music...that sucks!