9 October 2013

9th October - Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love

Artist – Album: Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love
Released: 9th October 1987
Sounds Like: Don’t panic!

Last night I was at Manchester’s Opera House to see the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show… Live!: an absorbing show that was all things to all men – part theatre, part live band, part story time, part stand up routine and, exactly as it says on the tin, part radio show. It was a live performance in five parts if you will. The radio show element was the strangest thing: the actors performed mostly in front of large microphones; the set design seemed to consist entirely of a white board and a projector, and the sound affects were all conjured up by a beardy bloke armed only with a laptop, a bucket, some clogs and a wobble board. It all made for hilarious viewing and reminded me that, even though some things can look and feel dated, they can still be a riot. Which is where Tunnel of Love comes in.

In sound terms alone, Tunnel of Love has aged the worst of all of the Boss’ albums. Like all things Eighties, what seemed fresh and exciting and futuristic then is garish and unsophisticated today – the synths, the drum machines, the reverb-tastic vocals. Even the cover looks out-of-date: Springsteen with slicked-back hair, a bolo tie and just the whiff of shoulder pads, leaning against his Thunderbird with awkward style. But, as last night proved, aging matters not a jot when the material is this hot. Tunnel of Love contains Springsteen’s most personal lyrics and they’re delivered from a man who’s got some demons. The love in here is not the love of a Richard Curtis rom-com, this is the nitty-gritty stuff, written by a man whose own marriage was falling apart (he divorced Julianne Phillips months later). On the strength of this set of songs, Springsteen is likely to approve of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’s advice on the subject of love: Avoid, if at all possible. 
It’s not as immediate as Born to Run or Born in the USA, nor as stark as Nebraska, but in its own way Tunnel of Love – and its highlights such as ‘Ain’t Got You’, ‘Tougher Than the Rest’, ‘Tunnel of Love’ and particularly the confused, untrusting ‘Brilliant Disguise’ – belongs to the top echelon of Springsteen records.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Ain’t Got You – 2:11
2.       Tougher Than the Rest – 4:35
3.       All That Heaven Will Allow – 2:39
4.       Spare Parts – 3:44
5.       Cautious Man – 3:58
6.       Walk Like a Man – 3:45
7.       Tunnel of Love – 5:12
8.       Two Faces – 3:03
9.       Brilliant Disguise – 4:17
10.   One Step Up – 4:22
11.   When You’re Alone – 3:24
12.   Valentine’s Day – 5:10
Listen to ‘Brilliant Disguise’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idnJnjV_8rg

Also released on 9th October:
2000: The Beautiful South – Painting It Red
Also released on 9th October:
2001: Death Cab for Cutie – The Photo Album

Also released on 9th October:
2007: Beirut – The Flying Club Cup

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