The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
Reminiscent of Van Morrison, with a jazzy feel and rambling urban narratives, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle is a much more satisfying sophomore effort from Springsteen. Springsteen is joined by his backing E Street Band, who only appeared spasmodically on the previous record; long time associates Clarence Clemons, Gary Tallent, and Danny Federici are all on board here, contributing to the collaborative feel. Some of the jazzy feel comes from pianist David Sancious and drummer Vini Lopez, who both contribute expressive and extroverted parts, but who were replaced before the next album. Springsteen is the only guitarist on the album, and handles all the guitar parts expertly.
There is precisely one nondescript Dylan-ripoff in the middle, the promisingly titled ‘Wild Billy’s Circus Story’, but the other six songs are uniformly excellent. The epic ‘Incident on 57th Street’ is gripping with its organ runs and narrative, ‘4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)’ is plaintive and pretty, and ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’ is the most upfront and accessible tune on the album. Even the ten minutes of ‘New York City Serenade’ are relatively accessible.
The blockbuster success of its followup Born to Run may have robbed Springsteen of the chance to make a similar album – he never had the opportunity to make an album that felt so loose and narrow in focus again.