White Rabbit Records - Blog

2023/4 Albums Thing 337 - Bruce Springsteen “Human Touch”

Posted on


Remember that thing in the 90’s where a band or artist would release a double album but put it out as two separate LP’s on the same day ? Guns ‘n’ Roses did it (“Use Your Illusion I & II” in 1991) and so did Springsteen with “Human Touch” and “Lucky Town”. Thankfully it’s a fad that didn’t last long. In fact after Springsteen in 1992 nobody did it again, it would seem, until Insane Clown Possee in 2000 and apart from a few people trying it over the ensuing 20 years (Tom Waits, Prince (twice!) and a handful of others) it’s a fad that, thankfully, never caught on.

Springsteen had dispensed with the E Street Band’s services at the end of the Tunnel Of Love Express tour in 1989. Following that, pianist Roy Bittan came to his boss with 3 instrumental pieces he’d written to which Springsteen added lyrics and thus began the writing of “Human Touch”. Of Bittan’s 3 instrumentals "Roll Of The Dice" and "Real World" made it onto this album and "Trouble In Paradise" can be found on the “Tracks” outtakes collection. For these recording sessions Springsteen went out to Los Angeles and put together a band of highly regarded studio musicians. Roy Bittan and Patti Scialfa were the only E Street survivors and alongside them you will find David Sancious (from a previous incarnation of E Street), Jeff Porcaro (Toto), Sam Moore (the Sam in Sam & Dave), Bobby Hatfield (a Righteous Brother no less) and other feted but almost anonymous LA sessioneers.

22And therein lies my difficulty with “Human Touch”. Outside of a couple of songs (the title track and Professor Roy’s “Roll Of The Dice”) it’s an unremarkable, dull, lumpen American “rock” album. What “Human Touch” very, VERY obviously lacks and misses is the E Street Band, oh and some better songs. Is Mighty Max Weinberg the greatest most technical drummer on earth ? No, not by a long chalk but what Mighty Max does suits Springsteen perfectly. Are Miami Steve or Nils Lofgren the greatest, pitch perfect backing vocalists we’ve ever heard ? No, in fact I often wonder why they let Steve sing at all but their voices mesh perfectly with The Boss’s and on this record all that is missing. It may have LA studio sheen and perfection but it's also sterile, it  doesn’t have that boardwalk “soul” that the E Street-ers bring to their never ending block party.

We were dangled a carrot with lead single “Human Touch” but by several street lengths it’s the best song here with nothing much else to back it up. Do I ever need to hear “57 Channels (And Nothing On)” ever again…before you think about it the answer is no, but for your benefit and the purposes of this blog I did, you can thank me later. I do sometimes wonder what something like “The Long Goodbye” would sound like with the E Street Band but I’ll likely never find out as he hasn’t played it live since 1992 and only played it at 3 shows then. 

Interesting note is that Springsteen lifted a huge chunk of the lyric to “Cross My Heart” from Sonny Boy Williamsons 1958 single of the same name (https://youtu.be/HyOsohDMlY4?si=mxkL6diwARrSDidJ)for his song of the same name. He lifted so much that he felt compelled to give the deceased Bluesman a songwriting credit. Sadly Bruce’s effort is a real plodder. Side 1’s penultimate song, “With Every Wish” is a nice acoustic tune harking back to “Tunnel Of Love”, then Side 1 closes and side 2 opens with the two songs he wrote with Roy Bittan, “Roll Of The Dice" and "Real World" respectively. After that…not much.

This one was necessary in order to bring us the next one, which we should be thankful for, but “Human Touch” is my least favourite of Springsteen’s studio albums and isn’t one I reach for very often.

Human Touch - https://youtu.be/85cNRQo1m3A?si=5Gdf1knKgItSB6pX

Add a comment:

Leave a comment:


Add a comment