___________________________________ An intimate look at one of rock’s brightest stars and his legendary backing band
Before he was the swaggering, stadium-packing megastar, Bruce Springsteen was a brooding introvert, desperate to strike a balance between his nuanced songwriting and the heft of his backing band. Clinton Heylin’s revelatory biography, E Street Shuffle, chronicles the evolution and influence of Springsteen’s E Street Band as they rose from blue-collar New Jersey to the heights of rock stardom. The band’s players—most notably saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons, guitarist “Little” Stevie Van Zandt, and drummer Max Weinberg—became Springsteen’s comrades in concert, helping him find the elusive sound and sonic punch that highlighted The Boss’s most creative period, including Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born to Run, and Born in the USA. Fans will also learn another side of Springsteen, one punctuated with his clashes with studio executives seeking a commercially viable, radio-friendly album, and his temporary disbanding of the E Street Band to pursue projects like the eerie acoustic of Nebraska. Coinciding with the forteith anniversary of Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, drawing on interviews and access to new recordings and shows, Heylin paints a bold picture of The Boss.
___________________________________ From Booklist
*Starred Review* The cover illustration shows Springsteen and band in a group photo looking happy, feckless, and hip: black guys, white guys, scruffily hirsute, and engaging. In the present rock milieu of Dylan and Rod Stewart releasing albums of piano-bench songs (and scoring hits with same), it’s probably a good idea to revisit a time when one of today’s rock gods and his crew were hungry, energetic, and capable of singing and playing all night. And that’s what Heylin’s book does so well, recalling Bruce Springsteen’s “glory days” and, for that matter, his bandmates’ salad days. Arguably they were just a bunch of guys from Jersey out to conquer the rock ’n’ roll world and grooving on their oeuvre. Not that it was all that easy: Springsteen had a classic bad dad—sullen, brooding, and given to drinking beer and smoking cigarettes all night in the dark—with whom he frequently clashed. Heylin goes into detail on this and other formative topics, quoting Springsteen at length. So although this is a band bio, it’s mainly a bio of Springsteen and how the rest of them coalesced around him. Rich in detail and generously referenced, this is vital stuff for pop-music or Springsteen-specific collections, and an entertaining read for all. –Mike Tribby
About the Author
Clinton Heylin is the author of Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades and several other books about popular music and entertainment. He lives in the United Kingdom.