Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream 180 gram vinyl (w/ download code)


The Boss is back with a new two-record set of all-new material just in time for his halftime appearance this coming Superbowl Sunday. On the heels of his last record, the acclaimed Magic, Springsteen is back again with the E Street Band with Working on a Dream, this time with mixed results.

My Lucky Day is the kind of upbeat anthem in the tradition of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out that could have easily been on Magic and makes you smile every time you hear it. Other highlights of the record are the epic, Outlaw Pete and the somber ballad, The Wrestler. While the rest of the material on the record is fine enough and I suspect that most fans of The Boss will enjoy it, many of the songs either aren't particularly memorable or suffer from mediocre lyrics. This is far from a bad record, it just isn't up to the higher standard realized by Magic--and is a far cry from anything from the classic period of 1975-1985.

Two 180 gram platters are packaged in a single jacket with inner sleeves containing the complete song lyrics. While sound quality varies from track to track, it is a significant step up from the uniformly compressed sound that was heard on Magic. Chris Bellman of Bernie Grundman Mastering did the vinyl mastering and although some of the faster numbers do have that squashed sound, it does not predominate the way it did on Magic. Bruce seems to be going for a Spectorian Wall-of-Sound on those tunes and more than likely, there is little a mastering engineer could do without completely changing the character of the songs.

Included with the vinyl package is a code for a 320 kbps download. Although sufficient for listening on an Ipod or in the car, the sonics are somewhat thin and pinched and don't compare favorably to the vinyl. Where the vinyl shines is on the acoustic ballads where it really captures the layers of Bruce's voice and conveys a realism missing from the digital download. While never an overwhelming audiophile experience, it appears that the vinyl will be the best way to hear this record.

Click to Watch video of My Lucky Day


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