Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. In 1973 he released his debut album, GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J. Over the years he became known for such songs as ‘Born to Run’, ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, and ‘Tunnel of Love’. In 1992 he released two albums on March 31st, HUMAN TOUCH and LUCKY TOWN, both on Columbia Records. Here, I am reviewing the former, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. It was produced by Bruce, Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, and Roy Bittan.
The title track, ‘Human Touch’, is up first. It is over six minutes long and hit #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart and #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Patty Scialfa sings harmony vocals on this great song that finds Bruce addressing a gal: “So you been broken and you been hurt/Show me somebody who ain’t/Yeah, I know I ain’t nobody’s bargain/But hell, a little touchup and a little paint.../You might need somethin’ to hold on to/When all the answers they don’t amount to much/Somebody that you can just talk to/And a little of that human touch”. David Sancious plays the Hammond organ on ‘Soul Driver’. I like these opening words: “Rode through forty nights of the gospels’ rain/Black sky pourin’/Snakes, frogs, and love in vain/You were down where the river grows wider/Baby, let me be your soul driver”.
’57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)’ was the album’s second single. Musically and vocally it sounds like something Cash would’ve recorded. It’s a bare bones story song: “I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills/With a trunkload of hundred thousand dollar bills/Man came by to hook up my cable TV/We settled in for the night, my baby and me/We switched ‘round and ‘round ‘til half past dawn/There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on.../So I bought a .44 magnum/It was solid steel cast/And in the blessed name of Elvis, well, I just let it blast/’Til my TV lay in pieces there at my feet”. ‘Cross My Heart’ was written by Bruce and Sonny Boy Williamson. It’s a rock ballad with words of wisdom: “Well, you may think the world’s black and white/And you’re dirty or you’re clean/You better watch out you don’t slip/Through them spaces in between/Where the night gets sticky and the sky gets black”.
‘Gloria’s Eyes’ is an electric guitar driven rock song that opens with these words of confession: “I was your big man, I was your prince charming/Kind on a white horse, hey now look how far I’ve fallen/I tried to trick you/Yeah, but baby you got wise/You cut me, cut me right down to size/Now I’m just a fool in Gloria’s eyes”. Mark Isham plays muted trumpet on ‘With Every Wish’, a quiet song that offers this advice: “Before you choose your wish son/You better think first/With every wish there comes a curse”.
‘Roll of the Dice’ is one of two songs penned by Bruce and Roy Bittan. This one’s a happy rock love song: “Well, it’s never too late so come on girl/The tables are waiting/You and me and lady luck/Well tonight we’ll be celebrating/Drinkin’ champagne on ice/In just another roll of the dice”. Sam Moore contributes vocals to ‘Real World’. On it, Bruce shares his desires: “I wanna find some answers/I wanna ask for some help/I’m tired of runnin’ scared/Baby, let’s get our bags packed/We’ll take it here to hell and heaven and back/And if love is hopeless, hopeless at best/Come on put on your party dress, it’s ours tonight/And we’re goin’ with the tumblin’ dice”.
‘All or Nothin’ At All’ is a dance/rock song that finds Bruce being straight forward: “Said you’d take me for a little dance/If you had a little time on your hands/Well, all I do is push and shove/Just to get a little piece of your love/I want it all or nothin’ at all (2X)/Well, now I don’t wanna be greedy/But when it comes to love there ain’t no doubt/You just ain’t gonna get what you want/With one foot in bed and one foot out”. ‘Man’s Job’ aims to sway a gal away from another guy: “Well, now his kisses may thrill/Those other girls that he likes/But when it comes to treatin’ a real woman right/Well, all of his tricks/No, they won’t be enough/Cause lovin’ you baby/Lovin’ you woman/Lovin’ you darlin’ is a man’s man’s job”.
Bobby Hatfield sings harmony vocals on ‘I Wish I Were Blind’, a pretty, but sad, ballad: “And though this world is filled with the grace and beauty of God’s hand/Oh, I wish I were blind/When I see you with your man”. ‘The Long Goodbye’ includes this admission: “Well, I went to leave twenty years ago/Since then I guess I been packin’ kinda slow/Sure did like that admirin’ touch/Guess I liked it a little too much”.
Ian McLagen plays piano on ‘Real Man’, while David Sancious plays organ on the upbeat rock song: “Took my baby to a picture show/Found a seat in the back row/Sound came up, lights went down/Rambo, he was blowin’ ‘em down/I don’t need no gun in my fist baby/All I need is your sweet kiss/To get me feelin’ like a real man/Feelin’ like a real man”. Last up is ‘Pony Boy’, which dates back to the early 1900’s. Harmonica is used on this folk song: “O’er the hills and through the trees/We’ll go ridin’ you and me.../Down into the valley deep/’Neath the eaves we will sleep/Sky of dreams up above/My pony boy”.
HUMAN TOUCH is an album of perfection! Passionate vocals, skilled instrumentation, and thoughtful lyrics propel this disc to greatness! Bruce sings about male-female romantic relationships in a way anyone can relate to. The songs are full of emotion and feeling and Bruce paints simple stories in everyday man’s language. By no means is this one of Bruce’s flashier efforts, but it is earthy. Adults who enjoy the rock songs of Tom Petty, Tom Cochrane, and Kenny Marks, should pick up HUMAN TOUCH, which I’m rating 100%. For more info visit: www.brucespringsteen.net.