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Bruce Springsteen's job in recent years seems to have consisted mainly of selling out stadiums and acting as the moral voice of the political left in US music. His work is frequently inflected with the political, even if there is none there, merely through a false perception and his own musical past (sometimes a love song is just a love song, and not some sort of clever political metaphor). What we're saying is that occasionally people will read too much into Springsteen's work.

Not this time, though... WRECKING BALL is probably the most explicitly political album of Springsteen's career and will do nothing to shed the burden of being the spokesperson for the working man.

Rebel rousing anthems abound on this flawed but enjoyable 17th Springsteen album. The intention of Wrecking Ball was to create a set of modern protest songs, and as a result you get a mixture of country/bluegrass and Irish folk alongside a couple of Bruce's own rebel-rock anthems. It lacks the cohesive rock edge that the E Street Band normally provide to proceedings, and instead it has more in common with Bruce's Seeger Sessions.

But that's not to say that the casual Bruce fan won't find something to enjoy. Land Of Hope And Dreams will probably already be well known to people who have seen Springsteen on the road in recent years, while opener 'We Take Care Of Our Own' and the title track are likely to become live favourites for years. Meanwhile, 'This Depression' and 'Rocky Ground' would have been at home on The Rising.

This was a crucial album for Springsteen. Not only was it his farewell to his late brother in arms, Clarence Clemons (who appears on two tracks), but in this time of major social upheaval it was important to his legions of devoted followers that he reminded them that they were not alone, that everyone was in the same boat and that if they all pulled together that change could happen. This was an album for the people that needed some reassurance that things would get better, even if everything did look pretty bleak right now.

It's an optimistic, bombastic, emotional and occasionally beautiful Bruce Springsteen record, and although it could be a couple of songs shorter and should have been sequenced a lot better, there is a lot to love about Wrecking Ball.

KEY TRACKS: We Take Care Of Our Own, Land Of Hope And Dreams, Wrecking Ball

1. We Take Care Of Our Own All songs by Bruce Springsteen 3:54
2. Easy Money
3. Shackled And Drawn
4. Jack Of All Trades
5. Death To My Hometown
6. This Depression
7. Wrecking Ball
8. You've Got It
9. Rocky Ground
10. Land Of Hope And Dreams
11. We Are Alive
12. Swallowed Up (In The Belly of The Whale)
13. American Land


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