Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bruce Springsteen: The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle [Columbia, 1973]
Folkie trappings behind him, Springsteen has created a funky, vivacious rock and roll that's too eager and zany ever to be labeled tight, suggesting jazz heard through an open window with one r&b saxophone, or Latin music out in the street with zero conga drums. He celebrates youth in all its irresponsible compassion and doomed arrogance, but he's also old enough to know better--for him, the pleasures of the city are bigger and more exquisite than the defiance and escape that define most hard rock. "New York City Serenade" is as bathetic as you might fear, but "Rosalita" is more lyrical and ironic than you could have dreamed. This guy may not be God yet, but he has his sleeveless undershirt in the ring. A-