Search - Bruce Springsteen :: Essential

Bruce Springsteen
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #3

Vastly expanding 1995's single disc Greatest Hits, The Essential Bruce Springsteen easily surpasses the earlier best-of set by serving up all its true essentials and tossing in less appreciated treats and a full disc of ra...  more »


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All Artists: Bruce Springsteen
Title: Essential
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Columbia
Release Date: 10/3/2006
Album Type: Import
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Singer-Songwriters, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
Other Editions: The Essential Bruce Springsteen
UPCs: 827969077320, 5099751370000, 5099751370024, 5099751370093, 766483253745

Vastly expanding 1995's single disc Greatest Hits, The Essential Bruce Springsteen easily surpasses the earlier best-of set by serving up all its true essentials and tossing in less appreciated treats and a full disc of rarities. Disc one spans the first decade of Springsteen's recording career, serving up at least two tracks each from the six albums that laid the groundwork for his '80s burst into superstardom. Disc two picks up with his mainstream breakthrough, 1984's Born in the U.S.A., and carries on through 2002's The Rising, tossing in live recordings of "American Skin" and "Land of Hope and Dreams" for good measure. The selections and sequencing surpass those made on Greatest Hits, though there's not too much in the way of surprises, other than that it appears that Born in the U.S.A. hasn't aged all that well for the Boss; here, he selects only three songs from the hit-laden smash, one fewer than is found on the skimpy Greatest Hits. Disc three is where the fun really starts for all but neophytes. The live "Held Up Without a Gun" is as gutsy a one minute and 20 seconds as Springsteen as one could ask for, and the likes of "Trapped," "Countin' on a Miracle," and a cover of "Viva Las Vegas" rank with his signature songs. --Steven Stolder

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Member CD Reviews

Judith B. from BOONE, NC
Reviewed on 6/13/2010...
I like that the song list is a combination of the sing along favorites as well as new and unreleased songs. I like the Boss!
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Laurie S. from LANCASTER, PA
Reviewed on 2/14/2010...
Bruce at his best...awesome!!!

CD Reviews

The Essential Bruce Springsteen...Almost
E. P. Schafer | Sai Gon, Viet Nam | 12/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When compiling a "best of" collection of songs from an artist like Bruce Springsteen-and you can include the Beatles, the Who, the Clash and Bob Dylan in this-the question really isn't what to include but what can be left out? Indeed, as most of his albums are thematic, it can be difficult to hear his songs out of context; thus the 1995 "Greatest Hits" collection didn't make emotional sense. But if you're looking for "essential" Bruce-songs that define his art and career and are the backbone of his perspective on life, America, and rock music, then this album comes fairly close. All of his albums and epochs are represented on two CDs, albeit briefly. His wonderfully funky first two albums are finally represented-they were totally ignored on the "Greatest Hits" compilation-and there is a welcome third CD of oddities, rarities, and b-sides that had not previously been collected. The set can serve as an introduction to the man's work, though I still tell friends to start by simply buying the first six albums-Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (1973); The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle (1973); Born to Run (1975); Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978); The River (1980); Nebraska (1982)-and then picking and choosing from the rest. The magnificent Tracks (1998), however, belongs in any record collection. It is the best anthology of its kind-unreleased cuts, alternate versions, collected B-sides-even if it fails to include "The Fever," "Held Up Without a Gun," and "The Big Payback."But to truly capture the essential Bruce, it requires at least another CD of songs. Sure there are three cuts from the debut album, but where are "Growin' Up," "Lost in the Flood," and the lovely "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" (Just listen to him sing the line "Love's like that-sure it is"). We get "Sandy" and "Rosalita" from the second album, but what about the magnificent "Incident on 57th Street" and "Wild Billy's Circus Story"? (E Street drummer Max Weinberg's favorite Bruce song). Better yet, give us the live version of "Billy" from the 1974 CBS executives' convention that was released to DJs only. I've got it and it's great.There are three cuts from Born to Run, but why was the thunderous "Backstreets" left behind? You could include all ten cuts from "Darkness," but being prudent, at least "Adam Raised a Cain" and "Something in the Night" and "Prove It All Night" should have made this collection. "The River" had its faults but where are "The Ties That Bind," "Two Hearts," "Cadillac Ranch" and "Fade Away"? Really, if any Bruce is essential it's "Cadillac Ranch" and "The Fever," which was written shortly after "The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" and only released on 1999's "18 Tracks." Why aren't they here?It's the same story for the other albums-how could "Open All Night" or "Used Cars" from "Nebraska," "Born in the U.S.A.'s" "My Hometown," "Tunnel of Love's" "Tougher Than the Rest" or "Soul Driver" and "Real World," "Lucky Town," "Souls of the Departed" and "Beautiful Reward" from "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" be left out? What about "Light of Day"? or "Youngstown" and "Dry Lightning" from "The Ghost of Tom Joad," or "Into the Fire" and "Worlds Apart" from "The Rising"?Moreover, albums like this are an opportunity to let unusual or alternate versions of songs see the light of day, but this does not happen. Legend has it that a rockabilly version of "You Can Look But You Better Not Touch" was recorded with just Bruce on guitar, Garry Tallent (bass) and Max Weinberg (drums), so why can't we hear it now? As for "Born in the U.S.A.," various CDs have the studio cut on the album of the same name, live band and solo versions, and the demo from the "Nebraska" why not give us the fabled 17-minute version from the original studio take? And how about studio versions of "Fire" and "Because the Night" from the "Darkness" sessions, which we've only heard live?Want the answer to all these questions? Money. CBS doesn't want to do a four or five-disc set and besides, if they really put all the essential Bruce tracks on this collection, then no one would buy the regular studio albums.The other side of greatest hits albums is that we often hear a lot of things we don't need to hear again. To my ears,
"Hungry Heart" and "Mary's Place" are among Bruce's weakest songs. However, for others they're favorites, which only furthers the point that these albums never satisfy everyone. Let's face it: compilations of any great artists are difficult to make perfect. Even last year's "Forty Licks" from the Rolling Stones could easily have been "Sixty Licks." And what always looms over these sets is the desperate need of the record companies to haul in cash. Commercial interests reign supreme these days. Look at it from this perspective: Had CBS merely released the third disc here, the rarities would not have sold well, even though many fans want it to complete their collections. As my brother asked, "Why do we have to buy three discs to get the one we wanted?" And if CBS had only released the first two discs, it still wouldn't have sold as well. So they combined all three to catch the diehards as well as the casual listeners-and they didn't do a very good job on the packaging, either. For CBS, it all came down to the bottom line. Fortunately, technology has caught up to the record companies. You want the Essential Bruce Springsteen? Borrow a friend's collection and burn your own CDs. But a last word: Thanks, Bruce. Thanks for being so talented, for caring so much, and for working so hard. Thanks for everything."
A good overview, but not essential for the hardcore fan
Zach Everson | Louisville, KY | 12/12/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"If you're looking for a good overview of Sprinsgteen's canon, buy this album or Live 1975/85. If you are a hardcore Bruce tramp, however, you can probably skip this one - everything on discs one and two is a studio release and most of disc three is available on soundtracks and compilations, or as B-sides to singles.The liner notes start with Springsteen acknowledging the problems that come with releasing a greatest hits compilation - namely some good stuff gets left out. The album could use "Backstreets" and "Racing in the Streets," but I'm not sure what they should replace. As this album was made to have the greatest possible commercial appeal, I was surprised "Secret Garden" wasn't included. Of course, keeping it off means there's still a reason for people to buy Greatest Hits - the only Springsteen album on which it appears.My big complaint with Springsteen's studio albums is that he hasn't remastered them yet. While these songs on the first two discs haven't been remastered, they have been cleaned up a bit over the original versions.As for the songs on the first two discs - all are top notch and provide a good retrospective of Springsteen's career. Unlike Greatest Hits, this album does contain pre-Born to Run material (five songs from his first two albums, released in 1973, are included). This set is more balanced than Greatest Hits too, which focused on his Born in the USA material. I have several hundred Bruce CDs, however, so it's a good bet I won't listen to these two CDs that often.I bought the set for disc three. It was a disappointment. Most of the previously unreleased tracks and rarities on disc three don't sound any better than bootleg copies (not that I'd know anything about that). Highlights include"County Fair" - a folksy song in the vain of Nebraska, albeit more upbeat"Missing" - the closest Bruce has come to rapping"Life Me Up" - Bruce's only song sung in complete falsetto. This song is one of my all-time favorites of his."None but the Brave" - it wasn't until I heard it live that it really got me, but this song is great. The rest of the songs on disc three are mediocre for Springsteen. Finally, the liner notes have a couple of mistakes: organist Danny Federici and bassist Garry Tallent are confused in a caption; "Trapped" was originally said to have been recorded in the 1970s, but Patti Scalfia and Nils Lofgrin are heard singing on it and listed in the credits for this song, although neither joined the E Street Band until 1984."