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6 Reviews of Born to Run on its 40th Anniversary

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One of the Boss’ most beloved albums—and the one that catapulted him from critical darling to national rock hero—was, for the most part, an instant hit with reviewers when it was released 40 years ago today. Praised (or in the case of a couple of detractors, derided) for his epic (or alternately, overly sentimental) descriptions of working class kids, most critics saw Born to Run as a harbinger of the incredible things to come from the 26-year-old kid from New Jersey. “No doubt he will make still greater studio albums than this someday,” critic John Rockwell, writing in The New York Times, opined. “But in the meantime, you owe it to yourself to buy this record.”

1. "HEARING THESE SONGS IS LIKE HEARING YOUR OWN LIFE IN MUSIC …"

Rockwell praised Springsteen's sheer talent, admitting that "it's difficult even to try to describe them in a short space":

“Sometimes his lyrics still lapse too close to self-conscious myth making but generally they epitomize urban folk poetry at its best—overflowing with pungent detail and evocative metaphors, but never tied to their sources in a way that is binding. This is poetry that contains universality through the very sureness of its concrete imagery … Hearing these songs is like hearing your own life in music, even if you never lived in New Jersey or made love under the boardwalk in Asbury Park.”

2. "THIS EFFORT REFLECTS SPRINGSTEEN AT HIS BEST."

The editors at Billboard included Born to Run as a top pick in their September 6 edition:

“Sounds like the third LP from the Asbury Park kid is going to be the magic one that lifts him into the national spotlight. This effort reflects Springsteen at his best … Songs used vary nicely tempo-wise, but overall fare comes down to putting poetic imagery of the '70s together with some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll …Good spector-like [sic] sound on several cuts.”

3. IT'S "THE COMPLETE MONUMENT TO ROCK AND ROLL ORTHODOXY"

Writing in The Real Paper, critic Langdon Winner made it quite clear he just didn't understand what all the fuss was about: “[Springsteen] has gone to the finest pop schools. He respects his elders. He bears the finest credentials and upholds the highest standards. Like all dutiful epigone, he threatens to become the consummate bore … [Born to Run] is the complete monument to rock and roll orthodoxy.”

4. "SPRINGSTEEN MAY WELL TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF THOSE RARE SELF-CONSCIOUS PRIMITIVES WHO GETS AWAY WITH IT."

Robert Christgau, the self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics," begrudgingly admitted that—at times—Springsteen is actually pretty good in the role of sentimental, blue collar troubadour:

“Just how much American myth can be crammed into one song, or a dozen, about asking your girl to come take a ride. A lot, but not as much as romanticists of the doomed outsider believe. Springsteen needs to learn that operettic [sic] pomposity insults the Ronettes and that pseudotragic beautiful-loser fatalism insults us all. And around now I’d better add that the man avoids these quibbles at his best and simply runs them over the rest of the time … Springsteen may well turn out to be one of those rare self-conscious primitives who gets away with it.”

5. "BORN TO RUN WILL PROBABLY BE THE FINEST RECORD RELEASED THIS YEAR."

Much more enthusiastic: Lester Bangs at Creem, who saw the album as Springsteen's make-it-or-break-it moment: 

“And as if we weren’t suspicious enough already of all run-on rhapsodic juvenile delinquents, we have another cabal of rock critics … making extravagant claims for him, backed up by one of the biggest hypes in recent memory. …

"Springsteen can withstand the reactionaries, though, because once they hear this album even they are gonna be ready to ride out all cynicism with him. Because, street-punk image, bardic posture and all, Bruce Springsteen is an American archetype, and Born to Run will probably be the finest record released this year.”

6. "IT SHOULD CRACK HIS FUTURE WIDE OPEN."

To Rolling Stone's Greil Marcus, the eight-track LP was nothing short of miraculous:

“It is a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed on him … And it should crack his future wide open …

"Springsteen’s songs—filled with recurring images of people stranded, huddled, scared, crying, dying—take place in the space between ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Born to Lose,’ as if to say, the only run worth making is the one that forces you to risk losing everything you have. …

"… There is an overwhelming sense of recognition: No, you’ve never heard anything like this before, but you understand it instantly, because this music—or Springsteen crying, singing wordlessly, moaning over the last guitar lines of ‘Born to Run,’ or the astonishing chords that follow each verse of ‘Jungleland,’ or the opening of ‘Thunder Road’—is what rock & roll is supposed to sound like.”
  

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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The Unsolved Mysteries Soundtrack Is Coming to Vinyl
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Terror Vision

If you never missed an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, just listening to the opening theme of the series may be enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Now, you don't need to wait to catch reruns of the show to experience the haunting music: The original soundtrack is now available to preorder on vinyl—the first time it's been available in any format.

Terror Vision, a company that releases obscure horror scores on vinyl, has produced two versions of the soundtrack: a single LP for $27 and a triple LP for $48. Both records were compiled from the original digital audio tapes used to score the show. Terror Vision owner and soundtrack curator Ryan Graveface writes in the product description: "The single LP version features my personal favorite songs from the ghost related segments of Unsolved Mysteries whereas the triple LP set contains EVERYTHING written for the ghost segments. This version is very very limited as it’s really just meant for diehard fans.”

Both LPs include various iterations of the Unsolved Mysteries opening theme—three versions on the single and five on the triple. Customers who spring for the triple LP will also receive liner notes from the show's creator John Cosgrove, composer Gary Malkin, and Graveface.

Over 30 years since the show first premiered, the theme music remains one of the most memorable parts of the spooky, documentary-style series. As producer Raymond Bridgers once said, "The music was so distinctive that you didn’t even have to be in the room to know that Unsolved Mysteries was on.”

You can preorder the records today with shipping estimated for late June.

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