Bruce Springsteen - Human Touch
By the 1990s Bruce Springsteen was one of the biggest names in music. The small man from Jersey had reached the massive highs of stardom. He had become one of the biggest stars in rock, with brilliant albums such as Born to Run, and Born in the U.S.A and many other great, if not so popular ones, such as Nebraska and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. But that was in the early years of his career, and the Bruce that we see in 1992 was a different version from the one that we see in his earlier work.
This is where Human Touch comes in. Originally meant to come out in 1990, Springsteen shelved the project until he completed Lucky Town. As such both of them got released on the same day in 1992. Human Touch was the better received of the two albums beating Lucky Town to the number 2 slot on the Billboard Charts.
The majority of the tracks on Human Touch revolve around love, gone is the politically motivated Springsteen from the 1980s, the albums tone is similar to that of Tunnel of Love, which dealt with Bruce's break-up from his then wife, Julianne Phillips. But by this time, Bruce has divorced and re-married, making this album that much happier.
Unfortunately this is where Human touch loses its focus. With nothing driving Springsteen, he manages to achieve a grand total of nothing. Bruce's early work was often based on political and economic incidents, the exception being Tunnel of Love. This is all gone in Human Touch, being replaced with much more lovey-dovey topics, such as love and love.
However Human Touch starts off well; the lead self-titled single is catchy and good. An example of Bruce at his most mellow. Springsteen keeps it simple, a mood that follows the rest of the album with low key guitars and quiet drumming.
The main power behind Bruce is that his albums manage to capture the imagination of the population, and in this album that is sorely lacking due to the nature of the songs. By the time you reach track 3 (57 channels (and nothing on)) this lack of lyrical meaning begins to drain you flat. Songs like Cross my heart and All or nothin' at all are bland and uninspired. Without the E street band to give the music some power, the backing music for the most part is drab.
A few songs manage to break the mould, though. 'Gloria's Eyes' actually has decent guitar parts to it, but the drum machine that makes up the backing track is boring and repetitive and the bass is almost non-existent. These criticisms can be made for many of the tracks on the album; there is simply nothing here worth listening too. Unlike Tunnel of Love, in which you could feel the pain that Bruce Springsteen was feeling as his relationship broke down, there is nothing here. Human Touch may actually prove to be his least 'Human' album to date.
The albums length also plays a part to its own demise. It was the first Springsteen album not released on LP, and was the longest album he had written since 1980s The River. Due to the advent of Cd's, it gave much more time for music. The adverse effect is that there is less chance for songs to be cut due to length which might have helped the album develop.
By the second half of the album, the dragging gets worse. This is Springsteen at his poppiest, his music barely alters from the first track; the amount of variation is minimal and it begins to show by the second half. Yet it is not all doom and gloom, despite this being among Bruce's weakest work, he is still the same Bruce that we all know and love, his voice is as good as it has ever been and if the music had been better, then perhaps the album would have been too.
Long story short, Human Touch is an album that should have never been created. It does absolutely nothing for Bruce's catalogue of music, and only ends up smearing his name through the dust of the country. Without a lyrical focus his work is sub-par and he never manages to fire on all cylinders, despite there being plenty of fuel in the tank. Human Touch was the beginning of a dark era for The Boss, one which would not lighten up until the end of the decade, when he re-united with his E street band, something which he should have done ten years previously.
Tracklist for Human Touch:
1 Human Touch 6:31
2 Soul Driver 4:39
3 57 Channels (And Nothin' On) 2:28
4 Cross My Heart 3:51
5 Gloria's Eyes 3:46
6 With Every Wish 4:39
7 Roll of the Dice 4:17
8 Real World 5:26
9 All or Nothin' at All 3:23
10 Man's Job 4:37
11 I Wish I Were Blind 4:48
12 The Long Goodbye 3:30
13 Real Man 4:33
4 Pony Boy 2:14