MUSIC: BORDER MUSIC

IN A SPARE NEW ALBUM, BRUCE IS AT HIS BLEAKEST AND BEST

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S NICKNAME--"the Boss"--never fit. True, "the Worker" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but ever since Springsteen burst on the music scene in the 1970s, his work has focused not on people who sign paychecks but on the guys and gals who have to make them stretch for a whole week. In the past few years, however, Springsteen has lost touch with his proletarian passions. Many of his most recent songs, such as Brilliant Disguise, 57 Channels (and Nothin' On) and Better Days, are more concerned with Springsteen's nouveau-riche guilt than with the clock-punchin', Roseanne-lovin' set.

If his...

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