At this blog, we’re fans of Bruce Springsteen. All three contributors here greatly admire his body of work, which is why I can say that October 2 is a day I am now hotly anticipating. As the title of this post gives away, that is the date Springsteen is releasing his next album, Magic. Significantly, this is his first album since 2002’s The Rising to feature the entire E Street Band. The presence of his beloved backing band is guaranteed to make a Springsteen album more of an event, and has generally meant a better product as well.

Springsteen’s official site has some information on the album, as well as links to this article from Rolling Stone and this article from Rolling Stone, where Springsteen’s manager and producer do some album hyping. Overall, I guess what they said is more or less to be expected. I want to get pumped that manager Jon Landau is saying he’s never “seen [Springsteen] more excited than he is right now,” but what is he supposed to say? As far as his specific comments on the songs, “Radio Nowhere” having a “real anthemic quality” is promising; one can only hope it’s a genuine anthemic feeling. As far as Landau’s comment on “The Long Walk Home” being one of Springsteen’s “great masterpieces…” that would really take something out of the ordinary, so I obviously need to hear it first. Hopefully this isn’t just Landau throwing around hyperbole and it’s as good as he says. “Devil’s Arcade” getting political is something else to be expected, and another thing where I just have to wait to hear it to judge how it works. However, his most intriguing comment was probably the one on “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” having a “Pet Sounds-type feeling.” Springsteen is not someone I would associate with that record, so exactly how that track sounds will be a main point of interest for me.

As far as producer Brendan O’Brien’s comments: “Radio Nowhere” being a “straight-ahead rocker” is all well and good as long as he manages to walk the fine between “straight-ahead” and “cornball.” The same would probably go for “The Long Walk Home:” being an “emotionally uplifting ballad” is a good thing as long as it’s genuine. As for “Livin’ in the Future” being a “throwback to ‘Hungry Heart’:” ugh. I was never much of a fan of “Hungry Heart” in the first place, so hopefully I like this one better.

Overall, any recording that mixes Springsteen with the E Street Band still, even now, has a lot of promise. I’m keeping my expectations guarded (for example, I’m concerning myself with things like how the artificial contractions in song titles like “Livin’ in the Future” and “You’ll Be Comin’ Down” are setting off my corniness detector), but in reality my hopes are high; there’s no getting around it. I am hoping for greatness and certainly not expecting anything less than “pretty decent.” What I’m really getting at is that I have not much of any idea what to expect, and for that reason, October 2 just became a much bigger (Magical, even?) date.

(I also encourage the other contributors to this site to, if they would like, add to this post their own feelings, worries, or excitement about where this album could be going; I want this to be the central hub for all of our first impressions.)

Tom’s Take:

First, I’d like to thank Glenn for being pessimistic and cautious in his initial feelings. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only detractor around here, and it’s nice to see someone else get snarky about unnecessary contractions.

So what can we say about an album from which we’ve heard nothing? Obviously we can’t go on the word of the producer, I’m sure the producer of Shaq Diesel said the same thing before it debuted. Springsteen is older now, he’s learned from mistakes he made at different points in his career. He should know how to avoid certain pitfalls that rockers slip into when making highly anticipated albums. He’s also been pretty reliable of late, with The Rising, Devils and Dust, and The Seeger Sessions all being very solid, albeit different, albums. But are we to expect that Bruce is putting out another Born To Run? From the way the producer hails each song as an individual classic, it’s hard not to.

I’d hate for Springsteen to slip into corniness, as Glenn mentioned. Aging rockers can sometimes embarrass themselves when trying to replicate a sound they haven’t achieved in decades, and although Bruce can be seen, along with Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, as the quintessential figure of someone whose music ages gracefully with them, I still fear for the worst.

The man has certainly earned trust from his devoted fan base, of which all three bloggers here are loyal members. But he hasn’t been so infallible that I’d accept anything he puts out with open arms and not question it’s quality. I guess we’ll have to wait till October 2 to pass real judgment (or maybe a bit earlier, if the Internet gods deem it so), but as a wary member of the pseudo-media you can be sure that I won’t leap to any conclusions based on my love of the man’s previous work. You still have to earn it, Bruce.

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