White Rabbit Records - Blog

2023/4 Albums Thing 345 - Bruce Springsteen “Working On A Dream”

Posted on


“Working On A Dream” was recorded right after the tour to support “Magic” and Springsteen said of it “I hope ‘Working on a Dream’ has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done”. I didn’t see any of the “Magic” tour so can’t comment on the shows but the album itself I don’t find at all exciting. 

Having said that the opening song is f*cking incredible. “Outlaw Pete” is so good it was turned into a book…OK it was a graphic novel primarily aimed at children but my hardback copy of it is a treasure. Inspired by his Mom reading him tales of “Brave Cowboy Bill” as a child it tells of, well, Outlaw Pete, a hereditary bad boy who at the age of 6 months had spent 3 months in jail and robbed his first bank in a nappy and bare feet ! He eventually settles down with a Navajo girl but is hunted down by a bounty hunter. It really tells you that if you spend you time worrying about your past then that will eat up any hope you have of a future. Have a listen below if you want to know the rest, it’s epic. 

Past that and penultimate/final song “The Last Carnival” (it is really the last song of the album but on most copies you also get Bonus Track “The Wrestler”, theme tune from the film of the same name starring Mickey Rourke who asked Bruce to write a song for it. Trivia for the fans of that Stourbridge sound…the remainder of the soundtrack for “The Wrestler” was composed by one Clint Mansell) “Working On A Dream” is real slim pickings.

The two “Life” songs, “This Life” and “Life Itself”, just like much of “Magic” are OK and you already know I expect more than that. “Good Eye” is a thumping bluesy (I hesitate to call it the Blues) thing featuring distorted Bullet mic vocals and a looped harmonica wail. Most unusually for the verbose Springsteen it only has 6 lines of lyrics to fill up its 3 minutes. “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a gentle country-ish shuffle that sounds startlingly like Jason Isbell ! “Kingdom Of Days” may as well be “Your Own Worst Enemy” from the previous album.

Then there is “Queen Of the Supermarket” which is, in all good conscience, best forgotten about. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper said of it “It just might be the worst song Springsteen has ever released on a studio album” and I’m inclined to agree (yes, even in the face of “57 Channels And Nothing On”, this is worse). How it made the album and (rumoured) outtake, if it was actually from these sessions, “Frankie Fell In Love” didn’t shall remain one of life’s great mysteries (“Frankie…” later turned up on “High Hopes” thankfully). Bruce overstretches his vocal capabilities and the song consequently sounds bloody awful.

Between this and previous album “Magic” there’s most of a decent-ish (but not great) album to be found. Many of the songs from this album and “Magic” haven’t been performed live for 10 years or more, only 2 or 3 in the past 5 years, none at all on his current world tour and three songs from this album have NEVER been played live. We’ll simply mark these two albums down as Bruce’s “wilderness period”.

Outlaw Pete - https://youtu.be/QRA6lWzCpCQ?si=YbW76En5maBzV3YE

Add a comment:

Leave a comment:


Add a comment