Backed by one of the best unknown bands in the country, Springsteen performs seven song/stories, lushly illustrated with brilliant scene and character descriptions. Each song is a melodic adventure and each is quite different from the rest. Springsteen’s influences come from all genres of popular music—rock, folk, funky blues, jazz, Latin—but the resulting tunes are wholly original. This is a masterpiece.
For more extensive commentary on this album, see my 1974 article on Springsteen, which incorporates a January 15, 1974 interview. The article is available here and also in my book, Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches and Encounters.