Fact: Bruce Springsteen is an American hero. Also, a genius. Some people don't put him in the same category as Bob Dylan and Neil Young, just because he looks good in jeans.
That certainly shouldn't be held against him, and admittedly we're into that part, but mainly he's the best because of his classic albums, like Born in the U.S.A., which came out 30 years ago. Again, this album is somehow underrated, probably because it sold so many copies, but it's one of his best.
What a lot of people don't know is that there were three official dance remixes off of Born in the U.S.A. Seriously!
Released in 1984 and 1985, they were produced by Arthur Baker, famous for his work with everyone from Afrika Bambaataa to New Order. They were an attempt to get the album some club play and expand the blue collar rock hero's fan base to a more diverse audience.
They are, as you can hear below, bonkers.
See also: Bruce Springsteen Photos!
Song: Dancing in the Dark
The Original: A slick, poppy ode to workaday discontent and the desire for a life with more passion and action. It still gets tons of play on classic rock radio (and Midwestern wedding receptions), but it perhaps most famous these days for the video, wherein Bruce pulls a planted Courtney Cox out of the crowd and dances with her.
The Remix: For the first two minutes, it sounds just like the original, but then Baker really goes for it, expanding the four minute track into a ten minute extended jam complete with a chorus of ladies singing dippy little “whoa-oh-ohs,” a breakdown that features samples of Bruce exclaiming “see I'm getting older! I shake this world off my shoulder!” and what sounds like a xylophone solo. While the thing starts to drag around the six minute mark, the message remains the same: you can't start a fire without a damn spark.
How does it rate, on a scale of “Queen of the Supermarket” to “Thunder Road”? “Pink Cadillac.” The whole thing is fairly twee, but has a fun sort of drunk on wine spritzers at three in the afternoon feel. Again, perfect for Midwestern weddings.
Below: The “Born in the USA” and “Cover Me” remixes:
The Original: The iconic anthem of post-Vietnam disillusionment with the American dream, and the song that still raises tens of thousands of fists (and a few tears) every time Bruce plays it live.
The Remix: Grandiosely dubbed the “The Freedom Mix,” this kitchen sink reworking is loaded with military drums, airy synth and a spastic sample of Bruce repeating “U. S.! U. S.! U.S.A.!” for a bit longer than we're comfortable with.
How does it rate, on a scale of “Queen of the Supermarket” to “Thunder Road”? It's not as bad as “Queen of the Supermarket,” but it's not that much better. The light synths tend to make one of the most important songs in the canon of American rock sound like background music in The Neverending Story, and the rest just sounds slapdash. We're just going to throw a lighter up, because we have no idea how to dance to this.
Song: Cover Me
The Original: Bruce originally wrote this track for dance queen Donna Summer, but was convinced to keep it for himself, and it was subsequently Born in the U.S.A.'s second single. “Cover Me” has a bluesy roadhouse feel, and talks about how though the world is rough, some good lovin' can make up for it. We're not exactly sure what “looking for a lover to come on in and cover me” means, but we have (wink face) some ideas.
The Remix: Baker's “Undercover Mix” of “Cover Me” hit number 11 on Billboard's dance chart, and for good reason, as this remix is pretty bomb. It features a new bass line, soulful vocals by legendary dance music singer Jocelyn Brown, reggae and dub elements and cool polyrhythm percussion. Altogether it amounts to a legitimately funky dance jam that really lifts off at the 2:45 minute mark with the keyboard solo.
How does it rate, on a scale of “Queen of the Supermarket” to “Thunder Road”? “Spirit in the Night.” While this remix maintains the song's core ethos the reworking is inventive, and with Brown's vocals, even more passionate than the original. And unlike the other two songs in the collection, this is a dance remix that one can actually dance to.
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