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Bruce Springsteen|The Essential Bruce Springsteen

The Essential Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

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In the liner notes to his volume of Columbia's Essential series, Bruce Springsteen immediately lays out the problem with hits collections: "In any body of work there are obvious high points. The rest depends on who's doing the listening. Where you were, when it was, who you were with when a particular song or album cut the deepest." All artists have this problem, but Springsteen has it more than most, since he not only has a deep and varied body of work, but he has a passionate, dedicated fan base. Within that following, there are listeners who prefer his big-hearted, sprawling early work, those who love the cinematic grandeur of Born to Run, those who love his stark, intimate acoustic ballads, and those who adore his pile-driving rockers. He's had hits in all of these styles, and he's had concert and album rock radio staples in all those styles -- all of these tunes for his basic canon, the "obvious high points" -- but he's such a strong songwriter and record-maker that this leaves behind songs that many other artists would be thrilled to call their best work, whether it's the epic street poetry of "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" or the old-time rock & roll throwaway of "Pink Cadillac." Neither of those tunes are on the double-disc, 30-track Essential Bruce Springsteen, but any two-disc set can't hold all of Springsteen's great songs. It can only offer a representative sampling, which means there will be lots of terrific tracks and fan favorites absent -- Springsteen admits this, citing "Growin' Up," "Racing in the Street," "Backstreets," and "My City of Ruins" as MIA, while others could make just as convincing an argument for "My Hometown," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Fade Away," "I'm on Fire," "Prove It All Night," "Adam Raised a Cain," and the list goes on. The strength of The Essential is that you never notice these songs are missing. Unlike the previous Bruce compilation, the misguided, haphazardly selected Greatest Hits, The Essential contains all the big songs -- not just the obvious hits of "Hungry Heart," "Born to Run," "Born in the U.S.A.," and "Glory Days," but selections from his first two albums that were ignored completely the previous time out -- and it also contains just the right amount of latter-day material from the acclaimed The Rising, plus "American Skin (41 Shots)" and "Land of Hope and Dreams," two songs previously only available on Live in New York City. It adds up to an ideal introduction to Springsteen's music, capturing all sides of his musical output while being a hell of a good listen.
While the two main discs are for neophytes and casual fans, the third "bonus" disc is for the hardcore -- the kind of fans who will argue about the song selection on the previous two discs, and would be more interested in unreleased material than hits. This third disc is a clearing-house for items that should have made it to his previous rarities collection, Tracks, but didn't. This includes previously unreleased cuts, B-sides, contributions to soundtracks and benefit albums, covers, and an alternate, "country-blues" acoustic version of "Countin' on a Miracle" from The Rising. The disc follows a roughly chronological sequence and basically divides into early-'80s material and mid-'90s material. The '80s material has the edge due to the variety and strength of the material: the rampaging rocker "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)," a song Bruce gave to Dave Edmunds and has never released before now; the spare, tough "The Big Payback," a B-side; the searching "None but the Brave," cut during the Born in the U.S.A. sessions; the evocative "County Fair," cut after Nebraska; a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped," cut on the River tour; a wonderfully raucous live "Held Up Without a Gun," a variation on "You Can Look but You Better Not Touch" with topical lyrics previously released as a B-side. These are fantastic performances, and while there are also very good cuts of a more recent vintage -- such as the Joe Grushecky collaboration "Code of Silence," his title song from Tim Robbins' Dead Man Walking, and a fun version of "Viva Las Vegas" -- these '80s songs are the heart of the collection. It's an unexpected gift to have them officially released as a bonus disc to a hits collection, and for the hardcore, it's worth buying two discs of songs you already have just get these rarities. And it helps make The Essential Bruce Springsteen really live up to its title.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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The Essential Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

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1
Growin' Up
00:03:07

Bruce Springsteen, Acoustic Guitar, Arranger, Associated Performer, Composer, Electric Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist - Vincent "Loper" Lopez, Drums - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Mike Appel, Producer - Jim Cretecos, Producer - Bob Ludwig - David Sancious, Organ, Piano - Brian Lee - Garry Tallent, Bass - Louis Lahav, Engineer - Jack Ashkinazy, Re-Mixer

(P) 1973 Bruce Springsteen

2
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
00:07:03

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Mandolin, Recorder - Vini Lopez, Drums - Danny Federici, Accordion - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Richard Blackwell, Congas, Percussion - David Sancious, Organ, Piano - Garry Tallent, Bass - Jim Cretecos, Producer - Mike Appel, Producer - Louis Lahav, Engineer

(P) 1973 Bruce Springsteen

3
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
00:05:37

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Mandolin, Recorder - Jim Cretecos, Producer - Vini Lopez, Drums - Mike Appel, Producer - Louis Lahav, Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Danny Federici, Accordion - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Richard Blackwell, Congas, Percussion - David Sancious, Organ, Piano

(P) 1973 Bruce Springsteen

4
Thunder Road
00:04:49

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Harmonica, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Jon Landau, Producer - ROY BITTAN, Glockenspiel - Garry Tallent, Bass - Max Weinberg, Drums - Mike Appel, Producer - Jimmy Iovine, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Stevie Van Zandt - THOM PANUNZIO, Assistant Engineer - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Bruce Springsteen

5
Born to Run
00:04:31

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Mike Appel, Producer - Louis Lahav, Engineer - Ernest "Boom" Carter, Drums - David Sancious, Keyboards - Danny Federici, Organ - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone

(P) 1975 Bruce Springsteen

6
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
00:03:11

Bruce Springsteen, Arranger, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Jon Landau, Producer - Mike Appel, Producer - Garry Tallent, Bass Guitar - Stevie Van Zandt, Arranger - Jimmy Iovine, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Max M. Weinberg, Drums - ROY BITTAN, Piano - THOM PANUNZIO, Assistant Engineer - Corky Stasiak, Assistant Engineer - Clarence Clemons, Tenor Saxophone - Dave Thoener, Assistant Engineer - Michael Brecker, Tenor Saxophone - Ricke Delena, Assistant Engineer - Dave Sanborn, Baritone Saxophone - Angie Arcuri, Assistant Engineer - Randy Brecker, Trumpet - Andy Abrams, Assistant Engineer - Wayne Andre, Trombone - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1975 Bruce Springsteen

7
Badlands
00:04:03

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Danny Federici, Organ - ROY BITTAN, Piano - Garry Tallent, Bass - Stevie Van Zandt, Assistant Producer, Guitar - Max Weinberg, Drums - Jon Landau, Producer - Jimmy Iovine, Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - THOM PANUNZIO, Assistant Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1978 Bruce Springsteen

8
The Promised Land
00:04:30

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Editor, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Danny Federici, Organ - ROY BITTAN, Piano - Garry Tallent, Bass - Stevie Van Zandt, Assistant Producer, Guitar - Max Weinberg, Drums - Jon Landau, Producer - Jimmy Iovine, Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - THOM PANUNZIO, Assistant Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1978 Bruce Springsteen

9
Prove It All Night
00:04:00

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Danny Federici, Organ - ROY BITTAN, Piano - Garry Tallent, Bass - Steve Van Zandt, Assistant Producer, Guitar - Max Weinberg, Drums - Jon Landau, Producer - Jimmy Iovine, Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - THOM PANUNZIO, Assistant Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Tom Ryan, Engineer

(P) 1978 Bruce Springsteen

10
The River
00:05:00

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar, Producer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - ROY BITTAN, Piano - TOBY SCOTT, Mixing Engineer - Danny Federici, Organ - Neil Dorfsman, Recording Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone

(P) 1980 Bruce Springsteen

11
Hungry Heart
00:03:20

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar, Producer - Max Weinberg, Drums - ROY BITTAN, Piano - Danny Federici, Organ - Garry Tallent, Bass - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Mixing Engineer - Neil Dorfsman, Recording Engineer

(P) 1980 Bruce Springsteen

12
The Ties That Bind
00:03:34

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar, Producer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - ROY BITTAN, Piano - TOBY SCOTT, Mixing Engineer - Danny Federici, Organ - Neil Dorfsman, Recording Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone

(P) 1980 Bruce Springsteen

13
Out In the Street
00:04:21

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar, Producer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Chuck Plotkin, Mixing Engineer - ROY BITTAN, Piano - TOBY SCOTT, Mixing Engineer - Danny Federici, Organ - Neil Dorfsman, Recording Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone

(P) 1980 Bruce Springsteen

14
Atlantic City
00:03:59

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Dennis King, Mastering Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Steve Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Mike Batlin, Recording Engineer

(P) 1982 Bruce Springsteen

15
Johnny 99
00:03:40

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Dennis King, Mastering Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Steve Marcussen, Mastering Engineer - Mike Batlin, Recording Engineer

(P) 1982 Bruce Springsteen

16
Glory Days
00:04:16

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - ROY BITTAN, Piano, Synthesizer - Clarence Clemons, Percussion, Saxophone - John Davenport, Assistant Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - JEFF HENDRICKSON, Assistant Engineer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Bruce Lampcov, Assistant Engineer - Billy Straus, Assistant Engineer - Zoë Yanakas, Assistant Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Danny Federici, Glockenspiel, Organ - Brian Lee - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1984 Bruce Springsteen

17
Born in the U.S.A.
00:04:39

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - ROY BITTAN, Piano, Synthesizer - Clarence Clemons, Percussion, Saxophone - John Davenport, Assistant Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - JEFF HENDRICKSON, Assistant Engineer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Bruce Lampcov, Assistant Engineer - Billy Straus, Assistant Engineer - Zoë Yanakas, Assistant Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Danny Federici, Glockenspiel, Organ, Piano - Brian Lee - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1984 Bruce Springsteen

18
Dancing In the Dark
00:04:01

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Producer - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - ROY BITTAN, Piano, Synthesizer - Clarence Clemons, Percussion, Saxophone - John Davenport, Assistant Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - JEFF HENDRICKSON, Assistant Engineer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Bruce Lampcov, Assistant Engineer - Billy Straus, Assistant Engineer - Zoë Yanakas, Assistant Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Danny Federici, Glockenspiel, Organ - Brian Lee (Remastering Engineer) - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1984 Bruce Springsteen

DISC 2

1
Tougher Than the Rest
00:04:36

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Max Weinberg, Percussion - Danny Federici, Organ - The E Street Band, Associated Performer - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - Tim Leitner, Engineer - Roger Talkov, Engineer - Squeek Stone, Engineer - Rob Jacobs, Engineer - Heidi Cron, Assistant Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Mark McKenna, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Brian Lee - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1987 Bruce Springsteen

2
Brilliant Disguise
00:04:16

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Max Weinberg, Percussion - ROY BITTAN, Piano - Danny Federici, Organ - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1987 Bruce Springsteen

3
One Step Up
00:04:22

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Patti Scialfa - The E Street Band is: Roy Bittan, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Nils Lofgren, Patty Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg, Associated Performer - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - Tim Leitner, Engineer - Roger Talkov, Engineer - Squeek Stone, Engineer - Rob Jacobs, Engineer - Heidi Cron, Assistant Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Mark McKenna, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Brian Lee (Remastering Engineer), Mastering Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer - Carol Nelson - J. TAVENNER - McEwen

(P) 1987 Bruce Springsteen

4
Human Touch (Single Edit)
00:05:12

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Jeff Porcaro, Drums, Percussion - ROY BITTAN, Keyboards, Producer - Randy Jackson, Bass - Jon Landau, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - TOBY SCOTT, Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1992 Bruce Springsteen

5
Better Days
00:03:47

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Lisa Lowell - Patti Scialfa - Soozie Tyrell - Gary Mallabar, Drums - Randy Jackson, Bass - With Jon Landau, Producer - and Chuck Plotkin, Producer

(P) 1992 Bruce Springsteen

6
If I Should Fall Behind
00:02:58

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Gary Mallabar, Drums - With Jon Landau, Producer - and Chuck Plotkin, Producer

(P) 1992 Bruce Springsteen

7
Streets of Philadelphia (Single Edit)
00:03:17

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Main Artist, Producer - Bruce Springsteen, Composer, Lyricist - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - TOBY SCOTT, Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer

(P) 1993 Bruce Springsteen

8
Murder Incorporated
00:03:59

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Electric Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - The E Street Band - Jon Landau, Producer - Stevie Van Zandt, Acoustic Guitar, Producer - CARL GLANVILLE, Assistant Engineer - Max Weinberg, Drums - Pete Keppler, Assistant Engineer - ROY BITTAN, Piano, Synthesizer - Ryan Freeland, Assistant Engineer - Danny Federici, Organ - Jay Militscher, Assistant Engineer - Tony Duino Black, Assistant Engineer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Nico X. German, Assistant Engineer - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1995 Bruce Springsteen

9
The Ghost of Tom Joad
00:04:23

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Dave Collins, Mastering Engineer - Gary Mallaber, Drums - Marty Rifkin, Steel Guitar - Danny Federici, Keyboards - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer

(P) 1995 Bruce Springsteen

10
The Rising
00:04:48

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Main Artist - See Subsong, Composer, Lyricist - Brendan O'Brien, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Nils Lofgren, Guitar - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar - Garry Tallent, Bass - Max Weinberg, Drums - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - Dan Federici, Organ - ROY BITTAN, Keyboards - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Soozie Tyrell, Violin - Jane Scarpantoni, Cello - Patti Scialfa

(P) 2002 Bruce Springsteen

11
Lonesome Day
00:04:08

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Lyricist, Main Artist - Brendan O'Brien, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer

(P) 2002 Bruce Springsteen

12
Devils & Dust
00:05:03

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Guitar, Keyboards, Main Artist - Brendan O'Brien, Bass, Mixing Engineer, Producer - See Subsong, Composer, Lyricist - Billy Bowers, Engineer - The Nashville String Machine, Strings - Steve Jordan, Drums - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - Susan Welty, Horn - Thomas witte, Horn

(P) 2005 Bruce Springsteen

13
Long Time Comin' Explicit
00:04:16

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Brendan O'Brien, Bass, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Patti Scialfa - Chuck Plotkin, Producer - Soozie Tyrell, Violin - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Marty Rifkin, Steel Guitar - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Steve Jordan, Drums - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer - Dan Federici, Keyboards - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer

(P) 2005 Bruce Springsteen

14
Radio Nowhere
00:03:20

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Lyricist, Main Artist, Organ - Brendan O'Brien, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Nils Lofgren, Guitar - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar - Garry Tallent, Bass - Max Weinberg, Drums - Dan Federici, Keyboards - ROY BITTAN, Keyboards - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer - Patti Scialfa

(P) 2007 Bruce Springsteen

15
Working On a Dream
00:03:30

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Lyricist, Main Artist - ROY BITTAN, Organ, Piano - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Nils Lofgren, Guitar - Garry Tallent, Bass - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar - Max Weinberg, Drums - Brendan O'Brien, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Tom Tapley, Assistant Engineer - Rick Kwan, Assistant Engineer - Tom Syrowski, Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Darren Tablan, Assistant Engineer - Kevin Mills, Assistant Engineer - Derek Karlquist, Assistant Engineer - Patti Scialfa - Paul Lamalfa, Assistant Engineer - Chris Bellman, Mastering Engineer - Soozie Tyrell

(P) 2008 Bruce Springsteen

16
My Lucky Day
00:04:02

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Percussion - ROY BITTAN, Organ, Piano - Clarence Clemons, Saxophone - Danny Federici, Organ - Nils Lofgren, Guitar - Patti Scialfa - Garry Tallent, Bass - Stevie Van Zandt, Guitar - Max Weinberg, Drums - Soozie Tyrell - Brendan O'Brien, Mixing Engineer, Producer - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - Billy Bowers, Engineer - Tom Tapley, Assistant Engineer - Rick Kwan, Assistant Engineer - Tom Syrowski, Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Darren Tablan, Assistant Engineer - Kevin Mills, Assistant Engineer - Derek Karlquist, Assistant Engineer - Paul Lamalfa, Assistant Engineer - Chris Bellman, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2008 Bruce Springsteen

17
The Wrestler
00:03:51

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - TOBY SCOTT, Recording Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Brandon Duncan, Assistant Engineer - Chris Bellman, Mastering Engineer

(P) 2008 Bruce Springsteen

18
We Take Care of Our Own
00:03:56

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Banjo, Composer, Drums, Guitar, Loops, Lyricist, Main Artist, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Producer - Ron Aniello, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Loops, Piano, Producer - Patti Scialfa - Lisa Lowell - Soozie Tyrell - New York Chamber Consort, Strings - Rob Mathes, Other - Lisa Kim, Concert Master - Jon Landau, Executive Producer - Ross Petersen, Engineer - Rob Lebret, Engineer - Clif Norrell, Engineer - TOBY SCOTT, Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Mark 'Spike' Stent, Mixing Engineer - Matty Green, Assistant Engineer - Sandy Park, Contractor

(P) 2012 Bruce Springsteen

19
Hunter of Invisible Game
00:04:39

Bruce Springsteen, Associated Performer, Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Main Artist, Producer - Garry Tallent, Bass - Max Weinberg, Drums - Tom Morello, Guitar - Ed Horst, Conductor - Soozie Tyrell, Violin - Atlanta Strings, Strings - Jay Christy, Violin - Justin Bruns, Violin - Sheela Iyengar, Violin - John Meisner, Violin - Christopher Pulgram, Violin - William Pu, Violin - Olga Shpitko, Violin - Amy Chang, Viola - Tania Maxwell, Viola - Kenn Wagner, Violin - Lachlan McBane, Viola - Karen Freer, Cello - Charae Krueger, Cello - Daniel Laufer, Cello - Brendan O'Brien, Producer - BOB CLEARMOUNTAIN, Mixing Engineer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Sergio Ruelas Jr., Assistant Engineer - Ron Aniello, Producer - Ross Petersen, Recording Engineer - Kevin Mills, Engineer - Nick DiDia, Recording Engineer - Rob Lebret, Recording Engineer - Zach Russo

(P) 2014 Bruce Springsteen

Albumbeschreibung

In the liner notes to his volume of Columbia's Essential series, Bruce Springsteen immediately lays out the problem with hits collections: "In any body of work there are obvious high points. The rest depends on who's doing the listening. Where you were, when it was, who you were with when a particular song or album cut the deepest." All artists have this problem, but Springsteen has it more than most, since he not only has a deep and varied body of work, but he has a passionate, dedicated fan base. Within that following, there are listeners who prefer his big-hearted, sprawling early work, those who love the cinematic grandeur of Born to Run, those who love his stark, intimate acoustic ballads, and those who adore his pile-driving rockers. He's had hits in all of these styles, and he's had concert and album rock radio staples in all those styles -- all of these tunes for his basic canon, the "obvious high points" -- but he's such a strong songwriter and record-maker that this leaves behind songs that many other artists would be thrilled to call their best work, whether it's the epic street poetry of "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" or the old-time rock & roll throwaway of "Pink Cadillac." Neither of those tunes are on the double-disc, 30-track Essential Bruce Springsteen, but any two-disc set can't hold all of Springsteen's great songs. It can only offer a representative sampling, which means there will be lots of terrific tracks and fan favorites absent -- Springsteen admits this, citing "Growin' Up," "Racing in the Street," "Backstreets," and "My City of Ruins" as MIA, while others could make just as convincing an argument for "My Hometown," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Fade Away," "I'm on Fire," "Prove It All Night," "Adam Raised a Cain," and the list goes on. The strength of The Essential is that you never notice these songs are missing. Unlike the previous Bruce compilation, the misguided, haphazardly selected Greatest Hits, The Essential contains all the big songs -- not just the obvious hits of "Hungry Heart," "Born to Run," "Born in the U.S.A.," and "Glory Days," but selections from his first two albums that were ignored completely the previous time out -- and it also contains just the right amount of latter-day material from the acclaimed The Rising, plus "American Skin (41 Shots)" and "Land of Hope and Dreams," two songs previously only available on Live in New York City. It adds up to an ideal introduction to Springsteen's music, capturing all sides of his musical output while being a hell of a good listen.
While the two main discs are for neophytes and casual fans, the third "bonus" disc is for the hardcore -- the kind of fans who will argue about the song selection on the previous two discs, and would be more interested in unreleased material than hits. This third disc is a clearing-house for items that should have made it to his previous rarities collection, Tracks, but didn't. This includes previously unreleased cuts, B-sides, contributions to soundtracks and benefit albums, covers, and an alternate, "country-blues" acoustic version of "Countin' on a Miracle" from The Rising. The disc follows a roughly chronological sequence and basically divides into early-'80s material and mid-'90s material. The '80s material has the edge due to the variety and strength of the material: the rampaging rocker "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)," a song Bruce gave to Dave Edmunds and has never released before now; the spare, tough "The Big Payback," a B-side; the searching "None but the Brave," cut during the Born in the U.S.A. sessions; the evocative "County Fair," cut after Nebraska; a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped," cut on the River tour; a wonderfully raucous live "Held Up Without a Gun," a variation on "You Can Look but You Better Not Touch" with topical lyrics previously released as a B-side. These are fantastic performances, and while there are also very good cuts of a more recent vintage -- such as the Joe Grushecky collaboration "Code of Silence," his title song from Tim Robbins' Dead Man Walking, and a fun version of "Viva Las Vegas" -- these '80s songs are the heart of the collection. It's an unexpected gift to have them officially released as a bonus disc to a hits collection, and for the hardcore, it's worth buying two discs of songs you already have just get these rarities. And it helps make The Essential Bruce Springsteen really live up to its title.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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