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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.
It's early yet, but highlights for me include the "new" tracks "Stray Bullet," "The Time That Never Was," "Chain Lightning" and (from the original single-album version of The River) the rootsier version of "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)." It's also fun to hear the "studio" version of "Paradise by the C," which had been played on the 1978 "Darkness" tour.
I owned the original release of The River on a (miserable) cassette and then later in somewhat muddy-sounding CD form. I've looked forward to this treatment of the music from that era for a long time, and my first day with it (music only, at this point ... I'll get to the video later) has been a very good one. This is not an inexpensive set, but it's a high-value one -- and to me, that's just for the music alone. When the video content is factored in, this collection claims a five-star rating ... not so much for perfection, but for capturing and presenting some aspects of what made Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band such a cult favorite (relative to later fame) before Born in the U.S.A. I'm not your father, but this -- along with Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town -- is "my" Bruce Springsteen. Your mileage may vary, but I consider this a must for fans of the 1975 - 1980 Bruce.
# Set List
1 Born to Run
2 Prove It All Night
3 Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
4 Darkness on the Edge of Town (edited out)
5 Independence Day (edited out)
6 Factory (edited out)
7 Jackson Cage
8 Two Hearts
9 The Promised Land
10 Out in the Street
11 Racing in the Street (edited out)
12 The River
14 Thunder Road
15 No Money Down
16 Cadillac Ranch
17 Hungry Heart
19 Candy's Room (edited out)
20 Sherry Darling
21 I Wanna Marry You (with Here She Comes intro)
22 The Ties That Bind (edited out)
23 Stolen Car (edited out)
24 Wreck on the Highway (edited out)
25 Point Blank (edited out)
26 Crush on You
28 You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
29 Drive All Night
30 Backstreets (edited out)
31 Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
32 I'm a Rocker
34 Detroit Medley
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.