January 26, 2009 by MK
This week, Rolling Stone gives Bruce Springsteen the 5-Star Review Treatment for his new record, Working on a Dream. It seems Springsteen has graduated to “Do No Wrong” status in the eyes of one Jann S. Wenner. And, once you’ve achieved that level of ass-kissery, you’re destined for a twilight career in which every album you release is your best since… whatever your last best album was. In Springsteen’s case, it started with The Rising, a mediocre album that nonetheless fit the atmosphere of America in 2002. It was his best since… Nebraska.
Now, I love The Boss as much as the next guy and own most of his albums, several of which are true 5-star achievers (Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska). But, when the red-carpet treatment is unearned, it’s insulting to both him and his audience. In fact, when you get an automatic 5-star review from Jann S. Wenner, you should probably reassess where you’re at in your career. Working on a Dream is unfortunately a 2&1/2 star record at best. Because of this, you can feel the writer stretching to reach the parameters of a 5-star review.
“Working on a Dream is the richest of the three great rock albums Springsteen has made this decade with the E Street Band — and moment for moment, song for song, there are more musical surprises than on any Bruce album you could name.”
At this point, Springsteen has achieved Mt. Rushmore status with three other members of the Baby Boomer beloved: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger. That’s right, perhaps the worst 5-star review in Rolling Stone history, Mick Jagger’s Goddess in the Doorway.
This one deserved so much hyped flattery that editor and publisher Jann S. Wenner himself deigned it worthy of his own pen. Just listen to the masturbation:
“It is a clear-eyed and inspired Mick Jagger who crafted Goddess in the Doorway, an insuperably strong record that in time may well reveal itself to be a classic. World, meet Mick Jagger, solo artist.”
Somebody get a mop. Mick Jagger couldn’t write a classic solo album if Keith Richards wrote it for him.
Here are some other examples of Rolling Stone’s Undeserved, Unnecessary 5-Star All-Stars.
- Bruce Springsteen, Magic and The Rising
- Pink Floyd, The Final Cut
- The Who, It’s Hard
- Paul McCartney, Tug of War
- The Rolling Stones, Tattoo You
Do these sound like unimpeachable classics to you? There’s a pattern here. Once great artists still alive and [barely] kicking. No worries though, Rolling Stone is here to take pity and nurse our former star’s egos.
The lesson learned: If it’s their best since… it’s probably their worst.