The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
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'The Ties That Bind: The River Collection' is a comprehensive look at Bruce Springsteen's 'The River' era, one of the most pivotal periods of time in his career. The set contains 52 tracks on 4 CDs with a wealth of unreleased material, and 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs. It is comprised of the original 'The River' double album as released in 1980; the first official release of 'The River: Single Album;' a CD of 1979/80 studio outtakes; a two-DVD film of never-released, newly edited multi-camera footage from Springsteen's famed 1980 show in Tempe, AZ, long rumored but never-before-seen; rare tour rehearsal footage; a brand new documentary "The Ties That Bind" about 'The River;' and a coffee table book of 200 rare or previously unseen photos and memorabilia with a new essay by Mikal Gilmore.
'The River,' was originally released on October 17, 1980 as a double album and reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. 'The River: Single Album' is the 10-track album that Springsteen recorded in 1979 as a follow up to 1978's 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town' but never released. The fourth CD on the box set is 'The River: Outtakes,' which spans the entire 'The River' sessions in 1979 and 1980. Eleven songs are rarities that have never been released before, and for the most part are completely unheard and unknown even to fans, who have long considered Springsteen's outtakes to be treasured secrets.
"The Ties That Bind," on one DVD, is a brand new 60-minute documentary that features an intimate interview with Springsteen as he reflects on the tumultuous, extended period writing and recording 'The River.' The film transitions between Springsteen telling the stories behind the music and illustrating them with solo acoustic guitar performances -- interspersed with period concert footage and rare photos of Bruce and the band in and out of the studio. The final video component is "Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: The River Tour, Tempe 1980," a new film produced from footage professionally filmed in 1980 using four cameras and recorded in multitrack audio. The film features 24 songs 2 hours, 40 minutes on 2 DVDs from Springsteen s November 5, 1980 concert at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Widely regarded as one of Springsteen s finest performances, this intense show features early live versions of over half of 'The River' songs. Also included is 20 minutes of footage from the late September, 1980 River Tour rehearsals held in Lititz, PA, showing Springsteen and The E Street Band working through live arrangements of what was then unreleased material from the upcoming album.
'The Ties That Bind: The River Collection is packaged in a 10" x 12" box with a hardcover 148-page coffee table book containing 200 studio and live photographs most of which have never been seen before plus pages from Springsteen's notebooks, single covers, images and outtakes from the original album package, and other memorabilia documenting the album. Liner notes include a new essay from journalist Mikal Gilmore, the original Rolling Stone album review from 1980, and Springsteen's updated comments about the album from the 1998 "Songs" book.
Blu-ray Disc 1
The Ties That Bind (Documentary)
Blu-ray Disc 2
The River Tour, Tempe 1980
Concert Part 1
The River Tour, Tempe 1980
Concert Part 2
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1. The River on 2 CD. Now I'm betting most people who buy these special Springsteen packages are fans enough they already have The River. I have it on album, cassettes, CD, and practically every format possible. So getting another copy of the CD is fine. I'll toss it into the glove compartment of my truck for road trips. I would rather have saved the $20 though.
2. A hardcover photography book and some facsimile tickets and notebooks. These are kind of cool. Then again, I'm not 17 years old anymore (and I bet you aren't either if you're reading this), so having a copy of Bruce's notebook from 1978 doesn't mean that much to me as it might have 30 years ago. Still, it's kind of cool and lets you know these songs didn't just spring from the earth finished. The man is a hard worker. I'll look at these for a while. Put them on my shelf. And probably never look at them again like all the other special Springsteen packages I've bought.
3. The River - Outtakes: A collection of outtakes from The River. Some you've heard. Some you haven't. I love a couple songs on here I'd never heard or forgotten that I'd heard from old bootlegs. Good stuff here. Some interesting overdubs that I'd never heard before.
4. The Ties That Bind documentary. I saw this on HBO. I liked it.
5. Tempe Arizona 1980 concert on DVD. Since I was just a few years too young to see Bruce in 1980 (my first show was 1984), this was so cool to watch. I'll watch this repeatedly like I watch the other concert films he's put out. These never get old.
This is Bruce's magic. His insights and perceptions are basically universal. Whatever he is singing about can probably be transposed to some event or memory of your life. Bruce is speaking to you! All the time. A few don't get it, but that is their loss. If you take the time and make the effort to get to know his music, you will be forever changed.
This is why Bruce has stayed on top for 40 years. Few have ever possessed his marvelous combination of gifts. His exceptional poetic/lyrical skill, his ability to conceptualize and commit to paper these magnificent musical compositions he has created, his impeccable musicianship, his incredible showmanship, and particularly evolved over the decades, his vocalization skills. Bruce had the talent. So have many others. He had the work ethic. And he had the vision. This is what has set him apart. Put him at the very top of the pile. Hard work, tremendous talent, and always looking ahead. He has never been satisfied to rest on his considerable laurels. He is consistently driven to do even better. He has won Grammys, an Oscar, humanitarian awards, Kennedy Center Honors, and most every accolade out there. He appeals to not just a few, but to most. And intensely!
I remember the release of The River, his fifth studio album, in 1980. I believe this was was a transformational period for him personally, and whatever was going on inside him allowed him to produce some of his finest work. These same songs are here, plus much more. They have all been meticulously remastered, however, and now sound better than they ever have. This is truly remarkable in this age of digital music overcompression, and clearly shows just what a labor of love this was on Bruce's part.
My favorites are The River, Hungry Heart, Point Blank, and Fade Away, but there are a total of 52 superb recordings on these 4 CDs that continue some of the stories he has told before, and he also starts some new ones. His writing is heartfelt and masterful. 10 of these songs were never previously released. Some others are alternate versions of previously released material. But all are painstakingly remastered. The sonic quality is outstanding. This is not your all too typical re-release of old material in time for the holiday buying season. Rather, this is Bruce's holiday gift to his legions of die hard fans.
Rolling Stone Magazine has ranked The River as the 250th greatest album ever recorded. Add the 32 songs that were not on the double album River release, plus the excellent quality material on the 2 Blu-rays, and I bet the ranking of this material would move up quite a bit from # 250.
I have seen some on here complain about the high price ($99), or the relatively few previously unreleased recordings (10). But there's a lot more to this Collection than that. The video of the Tempe live show allows the viewer to almost experience the thrill that is a Bruce live show. And The River tour was one of the best tours to experience all that is a Bruce live show. And there is the Blu-ray with The Ties That Bind documentary. Very illuminating for even the long time Bruce fan. And the beautiful, magnificently done, coffee table book containing hundreds of never before seen photos of Bruce and band from the River era.
This Collection is not simply meant to be a re-presentation of The River 35 years later. Rather, this is an immersive experience one of the greats of our time has offered to us to provide insights into his creations and his creative process. It is a very personal,very revealing, fairly detailed examination into one of the prime creations of one of the greatest performers of our time.
Thank you Bruce! And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, too. Thanks for the memories.
The unreleased songs are outstanding. The River period was the Boss at his best. A couple of years before Born in the USA. Lots of Clarence. Interesting lyrics and stories.
Bruce ran out of stories a while ago. Now, he's just another 1% er. There's a lot of hope, aspiration and fun in these tracks. Even if they cost a bloody fortune to get mostly what you've already got. But then, that's why he's a 1% er.
I'm assuming that at some point the additional songs will be available separately so you don't have to spring for yet another copy of The River. The videos are fine but who watches DVDs any more.