As soon as you drop the proverbial needle, or if you’re so inclined, literally drop the needle, you know it’s Bruce. And yes this familiarity is somewhat like a pair of well worn slippers, but more rock ‘n’ roll, a rock ‘n’ roll pair of slippers, Iggy Pop’s slippers. This album is Iggy Pop’s slippers.
Metaphors aside, Wrecking Ball is full of the rousing gutsy numbers that Bruce has built his career on. With the distinctive sound of his past few albums, it feels like a natural progression from Working on a Dream, Magic and all the way back to The Rising.
The album has a deep Celtic, gospel undertone flowing throughout, most obvious on tracks such as ‘Shackled and Drawn’, a song about the social inequalities caused by the financial crisis.
“Gambling man rolls the dice,
Workingman pays the bill
It’s still fat and easy up on bankers hill
Up on bankers hill, the party’s going strong
Down here below we’re shackled and drawn”
Such banker bashing continues throughout, with ‘Death to My Hometown’ and title track and all out ball buster ‘Wrecking Ball,’ smashing the message home. This is not as subtle as Bruce’s political messages have been in the past, but it’s not supposed to be. This is another wing of the Occupy movement, Bruce is shouting from the roof tops, he’s Occupying stereos and iPods, spreading the word of the injustices of the modern world.
A word must be said about the late great Clarence Clemons who tragically died during the making of the album. Since “the big man joined the band” through to his death Clarence provided the heart of soul of the E-Street band and will be sadly missed and impossible to replace. He only features on two of album’s tracks, ‘Wrecking Ball’ and the re-recorded ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’, a great song that’s been floating around for years but never landed on an album before now.
In true Bruce style, this album makes you want to jump up, join a union, start a protest and “send the robber barons straight to hell” (Death to My Hometown). The rousing “ooohs” and heavy drums throughout give you the goose bumps, you can’t help but clench your fist and start to boil inside*.
Bruce is still well and truly the working class hero.
*If any Tories have listened to the album and are wondering why they didn’t feel such emotions, it’s because you’re a stinking filthy lizard, so not to worry.