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4.5 out of 5 stars
Born in the U.S.A.
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135 of 146 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Born In The U.S.A. is the album where Bruce Springsteen made the leap from a popular rock 'n' roller to megastar and cultural icon. The songs were all over the radio in '84 & '85 and his concerts were four hour marathons. It produced 7 top ten singles (tied for the most in history with Michael Jackson's Thriller & Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation) and was in Billboard's top ten for 84 straight weeks. People could relate to him as he seemed to be just a regular hard-working, blue collar guy. The songs had the appearance of being about fulfilling the American Dream and overflowing with American pride. They have an upbeat, radio-friendly sound that helped it sell 15 million copies and become one of the most popular and misunderstood in rock history. Beneath the bouncy music and optimistic titles they are actually tales of desperation, unfilled dreams and an America that had let its characters down. The title track typifies this as it seems to be a ringing declaration of the pride to be from America, but is about a Vietnam vet whose country has kept him down from birth and never let him get up. He questions why he fought and had a brother killed in a war that he didn't understand and came back to country that welcome back as a hero, but look down upon him. Despite risking his life for it, America gave him nothing in return. "Dancing In The Dark" is the most pop-oriented song Bruce has ever recorded. Behind the dancable synthes lies a the story a man who is down and out. He is desperately looking for someone to pull him out of rut and appears to be suicidal. "Glory Days" is about life sliding away from you and failing to meet the goals and high expectations of your youth. Not everything on the album is a downer, Bruce tempers the desperation with hope. "My Hometown" tells of a man who sees a brighter future for his young son and "Bobby Jean" is a farewell and good luck message to his band mate Little Steven who was leaving the E Street Band and heading out on his own. The song that sits right in the middle of the album and pulls everything together is "No Surrender". The song says that no matter how little that you start out with, how little life gives you, how much you get kicked around, music can help save your soul and you must never stop trying to reach your hopes and dreams. In the end, even though he thinks the country has written a lot of bad checks to its people, it is the promise that it gives and possibility of fulfilling dreams, that still makes it the best place to be. Bruce Springsteen has always said that music helped save him and before finding it he was just floating through life with no purpose. Whether you love him or hate him, his music has given many people hope and a purpose to their own lives. He, himself is an embodiment of the American Dream and if Bruce can achieve it, maybe we all can.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is really an incredible album. I rate it one of the very best of the rock and roll era. It's right up there with Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper."
It's hard to believe now, but when this album came out back in 1984 Bruce Springsteen was not yet a superstar. Certainly he had a cult following (in fact, a very sizeable cult following), but no one was yet calling him one of the greatest rock 'n rollers of all time. "Born in the USA" changed all that. Big time.
Some people criticize this album because they say it was made to appeal to the "lowest common denominator." I've never bought the argument. It took tremendous talent to make "Born in the USA," not just bubble-gum appeal. Springsteen took the lyrical power of a Dylan, the basic "fun, old fashioned rock 'n roll" appeal of The Beatles, the heavier/harder rock style of the '80s and combined them all together to create...a masterpiece.
An earlier reviewer here criticed this album because you can still hear this stuff "24/7" on the radio. You know, there's a reason for that...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Is Born in the U.S.A. too commercial? A sellout? No way! If you remember the 1980s like I do, the songs from Born in the U.S.A. (1984) were like lifelines to authentic rock n' roll on the radio for us die-hard 1960-70s rockers. Sure, the album had an updated sound that now sort of makes it a product of it's times, but that's one of the things that makes this album so special. Born in the U.S.A. plays a big part in defining the life and times of the 1980s in many people's memories. And clearly, Bruce Springsteen is still The Boss here.

The album is Springsteen's most commercially successful by a long shot, and it's also one of the most successful albums in history (it had seven top ten singles which tied the all-time record for a single album). While Born in the U.S.A. isn't quite the masterpiece that Born to Run is, it still is a masterpiece and one of the best albums of Springsteen's career.

The anthemic title song starts things off and lays the foundation for the rest of the album. A song about a Vietnam veteran who, after going overseas and fighting in a war for the U.S.A., is forgotten by his own country when he returns home. It's an angry and disgusted battle cry against the injustice of it all. The underrated and guitar rocking Cover Me follows, and I think this is one of the best songs Bruce has ever done. Energetic, desperate and lonely, it picks up where the title cut ends.

The whole world is out there just trying to score
I've seen enough, I don't want to see any more
Cover me, come on in and cover me
I'm looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me

Downbound Train is a real heavyweight here, too. Although it wasn't released as a single, it's gotten a lot of airplay on AOR radio, and has become a fan favorite over the years. It's a minor-key dirge that laments a life falling apart. When Springsteen sings a song like this, his compassion draws you in and makes you feel the reality of the situation.

I'm On Fire is madly quiet, spooky and full of shadowy lust. Bobby Jean is an upbeat rocker that celebrates a close friendship and love, but also bids a tragic and sorrowful farewell.

Now I wish you would have told me
I wish I could have talked to you
Just to say goodbye, Bobby Jean

I'm Going Down, Glory Days and Dancing In The Dark were all monster hit singles, and they're great songs, too. Classic Springsteen. Don't let the synthesizers in some of these songs turn you away from this great album. The E Street Band's rocking guitars, Clarence Clemons' expressive saxophone and Bruce's desperate, raspy and dramatic voice are still the main attractions here. And Born in the U.S.A. includes some of The Boss' most compelling songwriting ever.

The album ends with the classic My Hometown. The song wistfully reflects on growing up in America and living with the hopelessness of a town's economic blight and jobs forever lost. Springsteen isn't looking through rose colored glasses on this album, and the U.S.A. that he sings about is not picture postcard perfect. But while the image of the America we see here is framed with hard times and disillusionment, the portrait itself is really of the perseverance, compassion and hope of the American spirit.

Last night me and Kate we laid in bed
Talking about getting out
Packing up our bags maybe heading south
I'm thirty-five we got a boy of our own now
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel
And said son take a good look around
This is your hometown
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51 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This album at first glance seems to be a supercharged set list of songs with upbeat melodies and catchy beats. You ask most people what they think of when you mention "Dancing in the Dark" and they'll mention that horribly eighties looking video. But so much more lies underneath this seemingly mindlessly catchy album. It is all too easy to mistake these songs for pop, Ronald Reagan did it when he chose Born in the U.S.A. as his campaign song, completely missing the fact that it is a harshly anti-republican anthem about a Vietnam vet trying to find work during a recession. In fact, not one of the songs on this album is about a happy story or a successful life. They all end in jail, out of love, or still struggling. These themes are nothing new to anyone who has listened to Springsteen's other albums, he has always championed the fighting yet doomed loser. It is just that on this album the lyrics are sugar coated in upbeat music, making it easy to forget that Dancing in the Dark is not about some guy out partying around, but an out of place misfit who just wants one sign anywhere that somebody is still alive. I do not know whether it is the time that has passed since his first albums, or what made Bruce decide to back his usual cast of characters with such upbeat catchy tunes, but don't be fooled by your first listen. This is still the brooding, touching, operatic Springsteen of former albums, and his characters are still losers, yet they're all still trying, they're all pulling out of here to win.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is probably my favourine Bruce album and the tracks still sound as good as they always did but now we get them in a cool lp sleeve format.

Why just 3 stars then? Well, the recording isn't remastered and so the sound is about the same quality as the cheaper U.S. press that you can get you hands on elsewhere. So unless you are a very big fan of lp sleeves like I am, you may not want to spend the extra bucks on this.

Don't get me wrong, the album is still great with regards the tracks but I guess if you already have this, what's it going to take to make you wanna get another version of the same thing? I'm guessing it's either improved sound quality and/or improved packaging. This disc only fulfils one of these two criteria so you decide what you wanna do.

By the way, it's the same with the other titles in this format like "Born To Run" and "Darkness...Town" etc. just so you know. As I don't already have copies of these discs, I didn't mind too much but I don't know about you.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I remember when I was fourteen all my girlfriends were crazy over Duran Duran, for me it was Bruce and only Bruce. This album is more like a greatest hits album, it contains so many hit singles. I had orginally bought the record, long before they became obsolete. When my turntable died I lost so many great songs from the eighties. This was the first CD I ever bought. I played it seven times in a row . Springsteen's genious shines though on this CD. He mixes rock and roll and love songs with a 50's flair. My favorite song, "Dancing in the Dark" envelops you in rapture. If you only buy one CD in your life, I highly recomend Born in the USA. Not only is Bruce talented he is sooooo gorgeous, even at 50
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Please, let this one day be remembered as the sound of the 80's. Otherwise, music historians will reflect back on "A Flock of Seagulls" and "Men Without Hats" with a sort of clinical bemusement normally reserved to the examination of the clinically insane.

"Born in the USA" came along when most of us needed it the most. Like he did in the deep, dark disco days, Springsteen ignored the new clamor around him and stuck with his magic formula. With "Born in the USA" came a new round of unpretentious songs about working Joes, war veterans, aging Romeos, jilted lovers and reflective fathers.

There is nothing new I can say to add to the already stratospheric acclaim of the New Jersey rocker. Pop the title song into the stereo and even elderly, tired men will rise to their feet and pump their fists in the air. It is not a patriotic anthem, but a tribute to the men and women who fought hard for their country and then were forgotten.

Not that Springsteen is all doom and gloom. As he always has, The Boss delivers his poignant messages while compelling even the casual fan to sing into an empty beer bottle or to emulate the big man on air guitar. Consider "Glory Days," the tale of a man approaching middle age and reflecting on the high times of youth. It's a significant message but one that comes with a lively beat. You can take this ponderous tale or leave it. It's the music that gets you and who does it better than Springsteen?

"Dancing in the Dark" serves as the theme for the men and women who are frustrated with the treadmill grind of their lives. "I'm on Fire" is a sexy, smoldering and occasionally filthy song of carnal yearning. "My Hometown" is an achingly sad glimpse at traditions past from father to son; a song about the endless roll of generations and the way towns grow and change just like people. "Downbound Train" is a sing-in-the-shower catchy tune about loving and losing.

Springsteen has dominated many generations by simply going out and doing his thing. When his fans are old and gray, they will remember the site of The Boss' denim clad ass with the battered ball cap hanging from the pocket. It's a much a symbol of an era as the music from this phenomenal album.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Born in the USA was one of the first albums I remember getting really excited about (I'm 33 now, was about 10 when it came out). It still feels as fresh and exciting today in digital form as it did on that scratchy cassette in my mother's kitchen so many years ago. What's most interesting to me at this stage is my response to the songs that were never hits back in the day. Sure, the first track and title song is a stadium anthem, even if it's still widely misunderstood as red-state patriotism, but songs like "Darlington County" are what get me. I feel like I'm right there in the passenger seat with the Boss himself, "rock and roll music blasting off the t-top." Even more emotive for me is "Downbound Train," which taps into something dark and tragic in the American soul without ever straying from the simple vernacular Springsteen has such an ear for: "She packed her bags left me behind/She bought a ticket on the Central Line." And, despite its unfortunate use as a political theme song during John Kerry's failed presidential run, "No Surrender" is a rousing cry to stand firm in the the face of great odds, not to mention that it contains what must be the essential rock n' roll line, "We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school." If you know the hits from "Born In The USA," you only know half the story. Take another listen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Alright, I've finally got to throw my 2 cents in on this album...

This album gets a bad rap nowadays for being too... radio-friendly.. which is not necessarily a bad thing. Every song on this album seems like it was tailor-made to be a single (with the exception of "Downbound Train"). However, it doesn't lose that greasy, gasoline-tinged effect that Springsteen's music is known for.

If you're older than 18, you've more than likely heard at least a couple of these songs before. And trust me, if you liked those, you'll like the rest of the album.

The album starts with a bang, and cthen proceeds to explore the grit, dirt, and agony that is working class life. Some songs have to do with love, some with labor, and some with just getting out and escaping.

The only problem I have with this album has is that it has a minor dip towards the end. "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean", although good songs by themselves, interrupt the flow of the album as they are more generic than the other songs and causes the album's support to collapse momentarily. This, however, is redeemed with the 1-2-3-4 punch that is "I'm Goin Down" -> "My Hometown."

Very good album overall. The only two Springsteen albums I like better are "Nebraska" and "Born to Run" (and I've heard them all)
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Obviously the individual that wrote the last review has his head so far in the sand that he has absolutely no clue about the world. You can listen to war loving, psychotic and uninformed ravers or you can analyze the truth and critique all with full understanding. I find it almost ironic that people who preach patriotism have no idea what the word means or what it represents. In fact, this yokel has everything backwards. He criticizes Bruce Springsteen and others for voicing their opinion on the injustices of American life. Is this act of political freedom Anti-Americanism? I think not! I have a question to ask you, pal. Was Thomas Jefferson or George Washington Anti-American? The answer is a resounding NO! The founders of this great country made crucial point to encourage opinion and dissent from the American people. Despite what many believe now, we do not live under King's rule. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech for this exact purpose. We have the utmost freedom to question those in power that do not follow the constitution or the will of the people. With that being said, don't be fooled by goofballs with hidden agendas. Don't hate others for having opinions that differ from yours. Most importantly, don't let your voice be silenced. Finally, terrorism, much like Communism or Fascism is just a key word to have all the people fear for their lives. This technique is a powerful tool used to create war. Understand and evaluate history so that we can protect ourselves from those that want to supress true freedom.

Politics aside, Born in the USA is a fabulous album. Just take a look at the number of songs that had widespread radio play. A phenomenal record from a true American treasure. Long live the Boss!!!
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