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- An Amazon.com Best of 2005 selection.
Born To Run: 30th Anniversary 3-Disc Set (CD/2DVD) Original recording remastered, Special Edition, Box set
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The meat of the bonus material is the London show. A mythology has built around it that the band were so disorientated by travel and culture shock and Bruce so enraged by label-generated hype that they gave one of the worst performances of their career. Primitively shot by today's standards, the footage captures the brilliance of the relatively new band's ensemble playing. Highlights include a "Thunder Road" accompanied only by keyboards that opens the show, fiery solos on "Kitty's Back," a dynamic "Saint in the City," and a number of songs that have long since been retired. It's certainly notable how pensive and joyless Springsteen appears when compared to his later, animated stadium persona, but it's also fun to see the far greater role as foil played by Clarence Clemons. As he now testifies in the sleeve notes, putting lie to the myth, on that night they had "gone for broke," and as this writer can bear witness, the British audience exalted the show as the arrival of the greatest live performer of his generation. --Rob Stewart
The Best of Bruce
by guest editor Steve Perry
Steve is the editor-in-chief of City Pages newspaper in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle (1973)
After a folk-rockish debut album that bubbled with ideas and dense lyrical play, this is where Springsteen began to find his voice as a rocker and as a songwriter. The prisoner-of-love romanticism of "Rosalita" and "Incident on 57th Street" hinted at what was coming, and this early version of the E Street Band--jazzier and more spare than later versions, thanks largely to David Sancious's piano--sounds great, if a little ragged, these many years later.
Born to Run (1975) and Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
These two records, which belong on any compilation of the top 100 rock albums of all time, sketched the themes that he would spend his whole career chasing, and defined the expectations fans would bring to his records ever after. The first chords of "Born to Run" sounded like freedom itself the first time I heard them on the radio, and the album lived up to them. "Thunder Road" is still the greatest rock & roll love song anyone's ever written. The record sounded so big and impassioned and propulsive it was easy to miss the dread running underneath it. Darkness... put the dread front and center. There are more of his best songs here than anywhere else, even if the sound is muddy and leaden at times.
After The River (the best record that didn't make this list) and the ensuing tour answered his rock & roll prayers--he was a big star now, not just a perennial critics' favorite--Springsteen holed up in a rented house on the Jersey shore, where he wrote these songs and sang them into a four-track recorder in his living room. The tape was supposed to be a demo for the band, but after several false tries he concluded that the tape he'd been carrying around in his pocket was the record. Quiet and bleak, Nebraska nonetheless grabbed you by the collar and made you listen as surely as his rock & roll records ever had.
Tunnel of Love (1987)
The glare and hubbub surrounding the Born in the USA tour (the tour was great--the record itself overrated) made him pull back again, this time to write a cycle of songs about love and fear and self-doubt. After this, Springsteen's first marriage broke up, and he started a family with Patti Scialfa, disappearing for the better part of 10 years, notwithstanding the pair of not-bad, just-disappointing albums he released in 1992, Human Touch and Lucky Town.
The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995)
Some call it Nebraska II, but his second acoustic album was not a repeat of his first--the characters and settings had changed, and their circumstances were more expressly desperate, and social--though it did share the same interest in what happens to people whose isolation or marginal status renders them invisible.
The Rising (2002)
Everybody, including Springsteen, seemed to think it was a record about 9/11, but the subject was broader--death and loss as seen from more than halfway down life's road. Dave Marsh nailed it: "A middle-aged man confronts death and chooses life" Brendan O'Brien's production sounds great.
Top Customer Reviews
Over a quarter century after the release of "Born To Run," we may have come to take this album for granted, forgetting the incredible rush it gave us the first thousand times we heard it. Make no mistake - this is one of the best rock albums ever recorded. From the lyrics to the melodies to the production, The Boss held nothing back. This recording provides evidence that Springsteen works as hard in the studio as he does on stage.
Each track is now, after all these years, immediately recognizable - the opening harmonica strains of "Thunder Road," the symphonic piano introduction to "Jungleland," the organ that kicks off "Backstreets," and, of course, the explosion of sound that is the title track.
The production here is obviously influenced by Phil Spector, the legendary inventor of the Wall of Sound. Lyrically, Springsteen evokes memories of early Dylan. (Listen to the song "Backstreets." I've always felt this song was Springsteen's nod of acknowledgment to Bob, with the feel of the song closely resembling that of "Like A Rolling Stone.") The vocals are reminiscent of Roy Orbison, but with more of an edgy sound. The final product is a masterpiece, and should take its place alongside the best of Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, and Hendrix when the history of Rock and Roll is written.Read more ›
But I always quite liked what bits of Springsteen's live performances I happened upon; whether or not you're a fan, you can't help but feel the energy that the E Street Band projects. That in itself is a rare enough commodity (especially in the current music scene) and one to be appreciated, so I eventually relented and bought Born To Run.
What can be said about this album that hasn't already been committed to the page over the past 30 years? Not much - and for good reason, I'd wager. This is one of those records that I've assiduously avoided trying to dissect and intellectualize. The songs here are too visceral and too affecting to be waved aside by some dismissive categorization.
You needn't be a staunch American patriot or blue collar worker to relate to these songs or to feel an endless affinity for the way that Springsteen evokes the plight of the characters that inhabit his stories. God, if you've ever felt the frighteningly boundless passion of youth you know exactly what it means when you hear "Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness / I'll love you with all the madness in my soul". If you've ever felt the gnawing need for escape from a situation that peels your soul away, you feel "It's a town full of losers / And I'm pulling out of here to win" in the pit of your being.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If one is going to own only one Bruce Springsteen album, this is probably the one to own. "Born To Run" is the song everyone knows, but "Jungleland" is the real... Read morePublished 8 days ago by hochspeyer
The greatest Bruce Springsteen album and one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time..Published 29 days ago by David Marshall
Just got it today-6/10/2016!! I love it!! Awesome!! Fantastic!! Amazon is like a Xmas Wonderland!! I will be doing all of my shopping here!! Great music store!! Great!! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Thomas E Shelton
Title track skips on two copies of the 180-gram vinyl edition, bought at different places. Columbia's quality control stinks big time; same issues with Paul Simon "Still... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert Wright