Above easy classification and beyond casual comparison, [in The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle] Bruce Springsteen now clears his path with creations of his own device: electric mind music for the spine and body. Signed as a singer/songwriter and recorded first as a hesitant folk-rocker, Springsteen lets loose here with aural authority, apparently trading in his Divine Right to sit at the throne of Dylan for a less lyrically ambitious but more musically mature and eclectic rock 'n roll Boss sound. It's becoming apparent that Springsteen has been influenced as much by Gary U.S. Bonds and Wilson Pickett as by Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.
After an unevenly astounding debut album, Springsteen's almost entirely successful second shot somehow adds up to much more than the sum of its parts: not a conceptual album but a complete one….
For The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, Springsteen has taken some of the craziness but none of the tension out of the kind of lyrics that made Greetings From Asbury Park a frantic rush of manic intensity. The streetwise stories are now told from the cooled-out consciousness of someone who's realized that he will be given time to tell all his tales after all. Only one song remains provocatively obscure—it's the closing tune, the food for thought at the end of a sumptuous banquet—and none hold the eerie imagery that stands right up and shoots through you (as on the first album's classic "Spirit in...
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