Essential Bruce Springsteen [Bonus Tracks]

Essential Bruce Springsteen [Bonus Tracks]

by 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. [A 2015 CD release added a second disc with seven bonus tracks.]

Product Details

Release Date: 10/16/2015
Label: Sony Legacy
UPC: 0888751417328
catalogNumber: 514173
Rank: 5941

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bruce Springsteen   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Harmonica,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Nils Lofgren   Banjo,Dobro,Guitar,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar
David Sanborn   Baritone Saxophone
David Sancious   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano,Clavinet
Clarence Clemons   Percussion,Saxophone,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Patti Scialfa   Guitar,Vocals,Harmony
Ron Aniello   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Drums,Keyboards
Mike Appel   Background Vocals
Roy Bittan   Synthesizer,Piano,Glockenspiel,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Mellotron,Pump Organ,fender rhodes,Korg M1,Crumar
Richard Blackwell   Percussion,Conga
Randy Brecker   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Danny Federici   Organ,Piano,Accordion,Glockenspiel,Background Vocals,farfisa organ,Vox Continental
Howard Kaylan   Background Vocals
Vincent Lopez   Drums,Background Vocals
Lisa Lowell   Background Vocals
Tom Morello   Guitar
Brendan O'Brien   Bass
Jeff Porcaro   Percussion,Drums
Marty Rifkin   Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar
Soozie Tyrell   Violin,Background Vocals
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Randy Jackson   Bass
Steve Jordan   Drums
Jere Flint   Cello
Daniel Laufer   Celli
Nashville Strings   Strings
Kenn Wagner   Violin
Larry LeMaster   Cello
Susan Welty   Guitar Synth (Horns)
Thomas Witte   Guitar Synth (Horns)
Gary Mallabar   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

Bruce Springsteen   Producer,Engineer
Ron Aniello   Producer
Mike Appel   Producer
Roy Bittan   Producer
Jon Landau   Producer,Executive Producer
Brendan O'Brien   Producer
Chuck Plotkin   Producer
Steven Van Zandt   Producer
Jim Cretecos   Producer
Christopher Austopchuk   Art Direction
Dave Bett   Art Direction
Mary Alfieri   Cover Photo

Customer Reviews

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The Essential Bruce Springsteen 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Walterama More than 1 year ago
The Boss Bruce Springsteen at its best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact that I am not a very big fan of the "boss", I like some of his work very well. This collection is a good excample to how cd`s like this should be done (chronologic song order aso.). I miss "The E street shuffle" and a few more of his previously stuff. But all in all this is a very good collection of Springsteen songs.
rflippen More than 1 year ago
Absolutely the best money I've ever spent on a CD. I can't listen to it often enough. It certainly showcases the 3 decades of Springsteen's finest lyrics and music. I can't imagine anyone not loving this CD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No doubt designed for music fans who don't own many Springsteen albums, this double CD has selections from every studio album of his 30 year carreer. There are many great tracks that weren't on his 1995 "Greatest Hits" CD: Rosalita, Jungleland, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, Tunnel of Love, The Ghost of Tom Joad, The Rising, American Skin (41 Shots), and others. As a big Springsteen fan, I of course recommend buying the albums themselves, but if you just want the "essentials" from 3 decades of music, this is it. The BONUS Disc is pretty cool too. It has tracks from his whole career. "None But the Brave" & "County Fair" are 2 'Born in the USA' outtakes could have been hits if they'd made the cut. These 2 songs I highly recommend. Anyone who digs Springsteen will love these tunes! There's also some rare tracks Springsteen wrote for movies directed by friends Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, & John Sales. These songs are not like his usual music but are very good. Of course there are hits that don't make the cut here: I'm on Fire, Prove It All Night, 10th Ave Freeze Out, My Hometown to name a few. But short of buying the whole Springsteen catalog, this essentials collection will give you many of his biggest, greatest, most famous tunes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is indeed an excellent value set of CD's as it covers most of the material that matters. The one-star-less-than 5 is a result of the exclusion of Cover Me and I'm On Fire, songs that could easily replace two of the existing, mediocre fillers. Alas, one could do worse than own this collection along with Born In The USA -but then, hey, perhaps that's the strategy !!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like most Springsteen fans, I have all of his albums and CD’s. I’ll even admit to a few 8 tracks! So with my allegiances fully in place, it’s a bit disturbing to give Bruce the Essentials treatment. I feel that each of his completed works have a theme and set a tone for the listener who can’t help but to be drawn into the stories from this great storyteller. When his work is cannibalized into a hit collection of sorts it demeans the art that his faithful have come to respect. Now, does this collection present a snap shot of his work that may lead a casual fan to be satisfied? Of course. If a fan has been on the sidelines then by all means this will provide you with a light cannon of material that hints to what you have been missing for the past 30 years. The problem here is disc 3 to lure in the hardcore fans that have been loyal fans. Clocking in at less than 50 minutes, the disc is sparse at best. The so-called disc of rarities that is designed to cater to fans is a ploy to re-purchase songs that we already have enjoyed for years. If Bruce really cared for those who have paid dearly over the years, then this disc should be a full 80 minutes. Additionally, the sound quality suffers from what seems to be a lack of caring on the part the Bruce camp. What’s with the tape glitch at the 40-second mark on Sandy? That’s simply inexcusable! There are also multiple errors in the booklet. Did anyone bother to look at this project? I don’t mean to be overly critical but I expect better from someone that I consider to the finest rock and roll singer of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is truly the Essential Bruce Springsteen collection. It includes selections from all of his albums. The first five tracks on the first disc are selections from his first two albums, which for some reason were omitted on "Greatest Hits". Moving on on the CD are "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run", two of the greatest songs he has ever written. The 9-minute "Jungleland" was a little too much though. The next three tracks are slections from "Darkness on the Edge of Town", which is not one of my favorite Springsteen albums, but at least "Badlands" is one of them. Following those are two selections from his double-LP, "The River", which are the depressing title track, and "Hungry Heart", another one of his masterpieces. The CD closes with 2 songs from "Nebraska", which are really the only two songs from the album you'll ever need. The second disc opens with three selections from his greatest album of all time, "Born in the U.S.A.", which are the three major highlights from the album. The only argument I have about this collection is the fact that the radio hit, "I'm on Fire", is exempt from this collection. Following those three are the two highlights from "Tunnel of Love". Following those two is the title track from his worst album (which is not a bad song really), "Human Touch". Following that is two selections from "Lucky Town", but another thing that dissapoints me is that "Better Days" is not on this collection either, and that was one of "Lucky Town"'s highlights. Next in the lineup is the theme song he wrote for the depressing 1993 movie, "Philadelphia". None of the new songs from "Greatest Hits" are on here, but it probably wouldn't have been a bad idea to add "Secret Garden" to this collection. The next track is the title track from "The Ghost of Tom Joad", which is an album I don't reccomend to anyone unless you're a die-hard fan. Following that are three selections from "The Rising", but I'm a little surprised that "My City of Ruins" was not one of them; I would have guessed that "Ruins" would have been on this collection, since it was written in memory of the victims of the 9/11 attack. The album is overall unbielevable, but the third disc (a.k.a. the bonus disc) was probably too much. If you're a Springsteen fan, then this is the collection for you, but if you only have "Greatest Hits", then you've only heard half of it!
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