Let’s get to the tape!
Max Weinberg. No joke. Swagger. His friggin’ hits are SO consistent. He’s like a machine back there. If you’ve never seen Bruce live, then I encourage you to as soon as possible. MMW is the heartbeat. On this track you can hear the precision. For over 8 minutes. And it’s not just that the hits are balls on, it’s that KICK. Holy moly. Swing…swung, but with force and finesse. The kick pattern in the verses is one that would drive me NUTS when I have been asked to play it. There are so many sections on this thing and each one requires a different feel and personality. All accomplished flawlessly. The fill at the 4:20 (naturally!) mark is the one. That ending bit where he’s gone to 64th’s?!?! Come on now. He drives it all. This song is almost a Max Weinberg/Springsteen Feel Primer. In the 8:30 minutes you get all of Bruce’s Greatest Hits EXCEPT for the “Bum-Bum-Bum-Blap” beat of “My Boyfriend’s Back” that Springsteen employs often; they waited until “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” to use THAT trope. The rest? Classic Weinberg. And he does it without ever breaking a sweat. In a suit. I do not know how he does it.
THIS dude. The part, I mean, PARTS that he constructs for this track are absurd. Kasim Sulton was Rundgren’s guy in Utopia, and you can see why in the bass track for “Dashboard.” The entire song is based in this pseudo Rocker-Billy feel and then runs all over the place. But, the Engine Room of Weinberg/Kasim gives it the rich foundation that is needed to hang a song of this ridiculous a nature on. At the 3:16 mark, we are off to a land of Bootsie Funk and some MAJOR slappin’ and octave jumps. Gorgeous. In the middle of this mini Rock Opera. I particularly enjoy the way that Kasim is all over the neck of his instrument, and Max is just KICKING it behind him with a Rock Solid Back Beat. The funk is alive and well for the ensuing minute. All of that work for ONE MINUTE of song time. Epic. He also smashed the build with Mighty Max. Dammit this band was sick. After the last build, the rhythm section just gets down to business and it’s some fantastic Smashy Bashy for two minutes, and then Kasim just RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDES a two note part as the whole thing comes to a crescendo. The arrangement is inspiring to listen to. Every part has been clearly, mathematically, worked-out to accomplish the goal of telling this story. When the foundation tracks are this strong then, as a Producer, you can just exhale and start to fuck around…I imagine that being Todd’s fav thing to do. And “Do It” he does.
Steinman wrote this thing on the piano, that much is obvious. However, it is interesting to note that the Ode to Springsteen breaks down on this track. It’s WAY more Elton than Bruce. Springsteen never really went with this level of Musical Theater in his writing. It should be remembered that Steinman and Meat met doing a stage show and proceeded to spend many hours “plying the boards” together. I wish that I could have just played the entire keys track for everyone. The “Phantom of the Opera” organ? The clav bit during the Baseball Announcer section? And then the culminating hony-tonk jam for the last 2 minutes? The climb at the 6:50 mark? There’s more than a passing reference to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, and the Broadway’ish aspect of Billy Joel’s writing is also evident. However, it’s once he plays the signature riff that you can here the Springsteen in it. The bloke manages to play an 8-minute-long part that references some of the greatest piano players, and writers, of modern music. Good grief. Anyone who talks shit is not listening correctly. At all. Steinman pulls of a magic trick. Kudos to him. But, the credit for the performance goes to Bittan. A “Tour-De-Force” of an ivory tinkiling. It’s one thing to write this, it’s a whole OTHER to execute it. It would make sense that it’s Roger Powell who comes correct on the clav when it cranks up. Steinman is credited with “Keys and Lacivious Effects”, which i believe is the bunch of sexually peculiar silliness on the weird track UNDER the baseball section. That’s a LOT of hands-on-deck/keys to make it through the opus that is “Dashboard.” ALL OF THEM!
The riff. Nailed it. We’re rocking, that much is for sure. It has always felt, to me, like the American version of Elton’s “Saturday”. It had to be BIGGER! The guitar track and the bass together are ABSURD! Man, I could’ve spent an hour on all of this. So damned good. There is more than a passing reference to Utopia when it comes to the spidery guitar lead that rides under the “Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife” part. Everyone is working. And then the high pitched Morse Code bit that announces the arrival of The Funk?!? These dudes got to throw it ALL at this song. What a pleasure it must’ve been to orchestrate all of these parts. Right up Todd’s alley. If there isn’t an alley named “Todd’s Alley”, there should be. In the audio of the radio show, I mention Todd’s Faithfully album where he remade some of his favourite songs, playing all of he parts, and recording them, and engineering them, and mixing them, HIMSELF. Solo! Listen here to his version of “Good Vibrations”…it’s shocking. All him. The dude is a LEGIT Genius. And is as grumpy, ornery, individual, and exasperating as someone with that level of intellect and creativity SHOULD be. He can be a real bastard, by all accounts, just ask Andy Partridge of XTC. But, most times, I have discovered that the level of madness is commensurate with the level of genius. Every time. Oh, and the original mix of the ALBUM was done in ONE night. The WHOLE ALBUM. Some of them didn’t make the cut so Jimmy Iovine, Rundgren, and John Jansen are credited with the album mixes in aggregate. But, to even ATTEMPT to mix a whole album in a night is madness. Or…is it Genius?