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Springsteen: Album by Album Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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The short answer, for the time being, is: you need THIS one.
The long answer begins as follows:
Ryan White has crafted (in conjunction with the folks at Sterling Publishing) a fine "album by album" summary of Springsteen's career, part history, part review, part opinion...it reads fast and fun.
The lovely design of the book though...a mix of familiar and surprisingly fresh photos, often beautifully reproduced...slows you down some. Thanksgiving dinner would be better if you didn't wolf down all the wonderful food, right? Took your time maybe?
The way they put this book together forces you to do exactly that. The book almost has a rhythm to it. Very nice.
For the big-time Bruce fans (I am proudly one of them...a signed Meola print of Bruce hangs prominently in one of my exam rooms), White manages to fill the spaces between the stories we all know with a number of anecdotes and details you probably won't. There were plenty enough to keep me on my toes...
For a newbie, this a-bit-more-than-superficial tour through the Springsteen canon will likely make you seek out further tomes by Marsh, Carlin (who wrote the intro) and others. You WILL want to know more of the story...
The book does several things well. New albums place older ones in a new (or just different) context. Thinking about his career from "Born To Run" to "Born In The U.S.A" brings new elements to that period, when you think about what he's done from "The Rising" to "Wrecking Ball".
New biographies by necessity ADD more to the story, GOOD biographies re-frame the whole story. It should be presented differently. And better.
This is a good one...
This is not hagiography. Springsteen "failures" are told alongside his "successes"...without going overboard either way. There is a nice, even tone to the material...again making it quite easy to read...but no less interesting...
The book is divided into album chapters, each chapter beginning with a time-line of significant events, releases, concerts.
Then comes the discussion about the album's genesis, each song getting a line or two of comment. Each disc's place in the canon is suggested. The way White writes though, you find yourself making your OWN assessment...again, a very smart way to write this sort of book. Quotes are liberally sprinkled outside of the regular text, in large bold font, adding to or focusing on a particular element of that record's impact.
A nice discography and bibliography are presented at the end.
Having read this cover to cover, I am now going to use this as a tour guide, and listen to all of these records over again...closely, on headphones or carefree, in the car with windows open...
...you HAVE to love a book that makes you love the music more.