BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – LETTER TO YOU
Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment Australia – Out Now!
Review – Geoff Jenke
Letter to You is Bruce Springsteen’s 20th studio album in a near 50-year history of Springsteen’s albums. We are lucky to have Bruce as part of rock and roll history, as his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park,N.J and The Wild, the Innocent & The E Street Shuffle did not sell well at all. But Columbia records gave him a third chance, something that would not happen in the world of rock and pop today and of course we all know, Born to Run made Springsteen a legend.
Letter to You was recorded “live” in the studio with minimal overdubs and feature three tracks written in the 1970’s, in fact prior to his original release of his first album, Asbury Park. These songs, Janey Needs a Shooter, If I Were a Priest and Song for Orphans show just how powerful a songwriter Bruce already was before he became famous. Springsteen said of the recording of the album, “I love the emotional nature of Letter to You, and I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”
The album came about after two incidents. Bruce had been given a guitar by an “Italian kid” outside a theatre stage door, which he took home and while he was performing his Springsteen on Broadway show, his former band mate George Theiss, from the Castiles, was dying of cancer. Bruce went to the bedside of George and when George passed, Springsteen realised he was the last surviving member of the Castiles and this spawned the song The Last Man Standing. Bruce then went home and, on the guitar, given to him by the Italian kid, wrote songs for a new album. The magnificent Ghosts could also reference his old friend George with it’s “I hear the sound of your guitar, Comin’ in from the mystic far”. It’s almost a nostalgic look at his youth.
The album is pure Springsteen & The E Street Band. While Springsteen solo albums are great, there is a powerful “lift” when working with the E Street Band. The opening track, One Minute You’re Here is sparse, with just Bruce and his acoustic guitar (and a few strings thrown in). But then the E Street Band kick in for Letter to You and things really start to move. Janey Needs A Shooter is just waiting to be heard in the arena’s around the world. However, there won’t be a tour to support this album with things the way they are. Bruce had intended to take the band out on the road in 2021, but the earliest this may happen is now 2022.
House of a Thousand Guitars is rock & roll heaven, right here on planet Earth. Rainmaker tells the tale of a conman, a tale of long ago and of now. Perhaps a tale of what has been happening in the U.S.A.
There are no highlight songs, the whole album is a highlight. This maybe the best Springsteen album since The River, way back in 1980. Let’s hope Bruce and the E Street Band are let loose in 2022.