I was listening earlier to some early Springsteen and thought, not for the first time, that I wish Bruce had never gotten involved with Jon Landau.[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07-Thundercrack.mp3|titles=Bruce Springsteen, “Thundercrack” @ The Main Point, April 24, 1973]
I have been a fan of Bruce since the first album and loved the second album and have always thought that it was all downhill (as far as recordings go) from there. The next few albums were still great but nothing matches the looseness and the freewheeling musical aspects of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle. After that it became increasingly codified & repetitive.
And that started when Landau got his clutches into Bruce. Coincidence? I think not.
Not that I think Landau was Col. Parker to a compliant Elvis. Bruce certainly was complicit in it. But it’s hard for me not to think that Bruce would have been a lot better if Landau didn’t sand off the edges, give Bruce a mentor for that politicization he underwent (and I’m not one of those who thinks artists shouldn’t be political—it’s fine with me and I agree by & large with Bruce’s politics—I just don’t like what it did to his music), & prime him for mega-stardom.