[Springsteen's] first two albums, "Greetings from Asbury Park" and "The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" seemed to signal new life for rock music….
His poetry about growing up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, indicated that here was a man who understood growing up in America of the '70s in the same way that Dylan understood being young in the '60s. The albums had a number of flaws, loose ends, and generally messy production. But they were significant for what they promised. "Born to Run" was supposed to be fulfillment….
[This] isn't fulfillment. It's better, but not exactly red hot….
[Aside] from some excellent arrangement the music is not that exciting….
Springsteen's lyrics go into what it's like to be young on big city streets, and they do a good job as far as they go. But the subject is too narrow. "Thunder Road" and title cut "Born to Run" are both brilliant songs, but their themes of breaking loose from the confines of growing up are repeated over and over again in the rest of the album. In the same way that many of Springsteen's songs are too long, the entire record overdevelops its theme.
On the other hand, he has done a good job of reaching back to rock and roll's roots…. The original rock was a rebellion on the most basic, gut level. Its music was a total outcast, and its lyrics sought expression only in what it meant to be a teen-ager.
Springsteen has given this rebellion further expression, perhaps better than anyone since Dylan, but to saddle this album with the future hopes of rock and roll is asking too much. Maybe he'll have his recordmaking pulled together by a fourth album. However, I think that all the hoopla surrounding this songwriter comes more from a desperate casting about for something substantial from today's rock than from his talents.
Lynde McCormick, "Springsteen: Brilliant, but Not Rock 'n' Roll's Whole Future," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1975 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), September 18, 1975, p. 27.