The Bottom Line
- All 14 tracks are quality tunes, and almost all of those are classics.
- A magical blend of often despairing themes with exuberant rock and roll.
- Rarely has accessibility been so perfectly married with literate songwriting.
- The bar is set so high that a couple of songs could have been cut to make an even stronger album.
- This is a 20th century masterpiece that rivals some modern fiction in its narrative intensity.
- At the same time it's grand entertainment, displaying the sheer joy of musicians at their peak.
- Springsteen may have never been particularly of the '80s, but he undeniably crafted an '80s classic.
Guide Review - "Born in the USA" Album Review
After that, the highlights are too numerous to mention, but it's rewarding to try. "Downbound Train" is a masterfully forlorn tale of romantic loss perfectly seeped in an atmosphere of longing. "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean" are both sterling fist-pumpers, full of time-worn determination for a better tomorrow and wistful appreciation of the past. "Glory Days" is one of the best songs about nostalgia ever written, and "My Hometown" closes out the album with proper gravity for a nation's lost innocence.
Aside from Springsteen's dead-on command of his themes, the E Street band supplies stunningly effective layers of musical accompaniment. As always, Clarence Clemons offers tasteful and appropriate saxophone parts, but the haunting use of keyboards by Bittan and Danny Federici contributes heavily to the album's constantly rich sound. From songwriting to instrumentation to thematic heft to joyous evocation, this classic album is fortified with everything that makes music beloved and important.