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Bruce Springsteen - Magic 2007 torrent


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More great music reviews & torrents at btbeat.com


Bruce Springsteen’s first album of original songs with the E Street Band since he lost the vote for change in 2004 starts with guitars --a wall of angry, droning treble that, for the three minutes of “Radio Nowhere,” is blessedly louder than the oceanic static of bent truths, partisan reporting and general bullshit that passes for life-and-death debate in the new wired order. Springsteen isn’t just pissed about the state of rock & roll radio --that’s like kicking a corpse --although he is blunt about what’s missing. “A thousand guitars . . . pounding drums,” he demands against the racing squall of his band. But “Radio Nowhere” is actually about how we speak and listen to each other through the murk --”Is there anybody alive out there?”he growls, over and over --and how a firm beat, some Telecaster sting and the robust peal of Clarence Clemons’ saxophone can still tell you more about the human condition than a thousand op-ed words.
Magic is, in one way, the most openly nostalgic record Springsteen has ever made. The arrangements, the performances and Brendan O’Brien’s wall-of-surf production are mined with echoes and near-direct quotes of classic records, including Springsteen’s: the early-Sixties beach-radio bounce of “Girls in Their Summer Clothes‚” the overcast-Pet Sounds orchestration of “Your Own Worst Enemy‚”the “Jungleland” ring of Roy Bittan’s piano rainfall in “I’ll Work for Your Love.” “You’ll Be Comin’ Down” sounds like it strutted over from The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. “Livin’ in the Future” is “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” with a new, thick coat of twang and a full tank of lust. After wrapping himself in a thousand fiddles on The Seeger Sessions, Springsteen has rediscovered the boardwalk-dance-party power of Born to Run and the Mitch Ryder and Jackie DeShannon encore covers in his 1975 and ‘78 shows.

But Springsteen’s songwriting here is also intricately wired with outrage and disbelief. The pain, courage and genuine love of country that he saw and felt after 9/11 and put to song with the E Street Band on The Rising have gone up in flames and betrayal. He makes no direct references to Iraq, Bush or the so-called Patriot Act. He doesn’t need them. The pared metaphors and straight talk carry the weight and body count. Like “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Gypsy Biker” is the sober homecoming of a war veteran with images of anxious preparation (“We pulled your cycle out of the garage/And polished up the chrome”) and wasted effort (“The speculators made their money on the blood you shed”). Except this time, the soldier is returning in a coffin, and the devastated singer is numb with grief, mourning over lines of cocaine. “Last to Die”takes off like “Thunder Road,”but into a darkness of unknown depth. “Who will be the last to die for a mistake?”Springsteen sings, gripping the wheel and marking the miles in fires and martyrs from both sides of the road. And the title song, a skeleton dance of acoustic guitar and cimbalom, is a catalog of tricks, not magic. At the end, Springsteen adds up the high price of White House snake oil in a voice strained with exhaustion: “There’s bodies hangin’ in the trees/This is what will be, this is what will be.”

If we let it. Even when he was gunning Chevys in his old turnpike songs, Springsteen never wrote merely about escape. “Growin’ Up,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”and “Backstreets” were about choices, the work of freedom. The same goes for Magic and its vintage Stone Pony-a-go-go. Only the stakes are even higher. In “Long Walk Home,”a muscular update of “My Hometown,” a father tells his son, about to ship out, the true meaning of national service and sacrifice: “You know that flag/Flying over the courthouse/Means certain things are set in stone/Who we are, what we’ll do/And what we won’t.” We only know who dies last for a mistake when we all stand up and say, “Enough.”

5 Stars

- rolling stone


Hailed as Bruce Springsteen's return to rock upon its release in fall 2007, Magic isn't quite as straightforward as that description would have it seem. True, this does mark another reunion with the E Street Band, only his second studio album with the group since 1984's Born in the U.S.A., giving this a rock & roll heft missing from his two previous albums — the dusty, literary Devils & Dust and the raucous We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions — and unlike The Rising, the first E Street Band album of the new millennium, there is no overarching theme here. It's just a collection of songs, something that Bruce hasn't done since Human Touch, or maybe even The River. All the ingredients are in place for a simple, straight-ahead rock album, except for two things: Springsteen didn't write a lot of flat-out rock songs, and with his producer Brendan O'Brien, he didn't make an album that sounds much like a rock & roll album, either. Magic is bright and punchy, a digital-age production through and through, right down to how each track feels as if it were crafted according to its own needs instead of the record as a whole.

Underneath this shiny veneer, the E Street Band can still lift this music toward great heights, infusing it with a sense of majesty, but this is an E Street Band that was recorded piecemeal in the studio, pasted together track by track as the group fit sessions into their busy schedules. This approach gives the album a bit of a mannered, meticulous sound not unlike The Rising, but such careful construction was appropriate for Springsteen's cautious, caring 9/11 rumination; on Magic it tends to keep the music from reaching full flight. Then again, the songs here don't quite lend themselves to either the transcendent sweep of Born to Run or the down-n-dirty roadhouse rockers that cluttered The River. There's a quiet melancholy underpinning this album. It's evident even on the hard-driving "Radio Nowhere," whose charging guitars mask a sense of desperation, or the deceptively breezy "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," which grows more wistful with each passing chorus. "Girls" is also indicative of how Magic doesn't quite feel like classic E Street Band, even when it offers reminders of their classic sound: like "Born to Run," it trades upon Phil Spector, but here the band doesn't absorb the Wall of Sound; they evoke it, giving the song a nostalgic bent that emphasizes the soft sadness in his melody. This oddly bittersweet vibe that is shared by "Your Own Worst Enemy," whose baroque harpsichords — uncannily reminiscent of the Left Banke — are the biggest curveball here.

That is, it's the biggest specific curveball outside of the overall feel of Magic, which is far too somber to be called just another rock & roll album. The solemn, sepia-toned picture of the Boss on the cover is a pretty big tip-off that there may not be a whole lot of good times coming on Magic, but it's a surprise that this is not only not as joyous as We Shall Overcome, it doesn't have as many moments of sunny relief as The Rising, which had "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and "Mary's Place" among its quiet, artful grief. Here, the joy and the sadness are fused, skewing such otherwise lively numbers as "Livin' in the Future" — which otherwise sounds like it could sneak onto the second side of Born in the U.S.A. — toward the sober side. Springsteen also targets war and politics throughout the album, either through metaphors (the title track, where the audience is suckered by a con man) or blunt declarations ("Last to Die"). All this toil and tension doesn't make for a very fun album, but 2007 isn't a very fun time, so it's an appropriate reflection of the time. The thing of it is, despite some fine moments of craft — both musical and lyrical, whether on "Gypsy Biker" or "Long Walk Home" — the songs aren't written with the keen literary eye that made Devils & Dust play like a collection of short stories. Like the music, the words just feel a shade too deliberate, rendering Magic just a bit too overthought — hardly enough to make for a bad record, but one that isn't quite grabbing, even if it is helped immeasurably by the E Street Band in old pro mode. And what's missing comes into sharp relief as the album draws to a close with "Terry's Song," a quickly written and recorded tribute to Terry Magovern, Springsteen's longtime friend and assistant. Compared to the rest of the album, this simple tune is a bit ragged, but it's soulful, moving, and indelible, immediate where the rest of the album is a shade distant. After hearing it, it's hard not to wish that Bruce would record this way all the time.

- allmusicguide




Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Magic
Date Of Release: October 2, 2007
Genre: Rock
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset extreme

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