Bruce Springsteen’s Albums Reviewed In Chronological Order

Written by | June 18, 2019 14:36 pm | 2 responses

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Greetings From Asbury Park (1973) – Bruce Springsteen – At the time, this seemed like another turgid Bob Dylan wannabe folkie waiting to go electric. Today… it stands up very well, what doesn’t doesn’t, but what does? “Blinded By The Light,” “Growin’ Up,” “For You,” the jazzy “Spirit In The Night” and “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City” are all rock poetic triumphs, and “Growin’ Up” was central to his “Bruce On Broadway” year long residency – A-

The Wild , The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle (1973) – Bruce Springsteen – Has there ever been a leap as huge as Bruce’s between his debut and his sophomore effort? Ariel Swartley wrote one of the greatest pieces of rock criticism I’ve ever read about it (here) which she dubbed two value judgements and a dance step and claimed Springsteen  “triggers memories like you were a jukebox and he was the man with all the quarters,” before concluding “The songs final scene has the hypernaturalism of a closing shot in a grade B western: ‘He slips on his jeans and they move on out to the scene – all the kids are there’ – That string of adverbs is as deliberate as a walk into the sunset. It’s a hero exit except the boy-prophet is on his way to the hop” – A+

Born To Run (1974) – Bruce Springsteen – A prequel of sorts to Wild Innocent, Mary is still getting into his car and Rosalita is a figment of his imagination, the road is like the road in “American Graffiti” as Bruce searches for the exit but is always going round and round and round: it is a rock and roll nightmare and salvation has never been harder to find or more rewarding once found. The E Street Band are front and center – A+

Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978) – Bruce Springsteen – Informed by the dead-end of English punks who will never get a job in their lives, and US metalheads, manual laborers till they die of exhaustion, Bruce observes and details – A+

The River (1980) – Bruce Springsteen – A double, because Steve and Jon were arguing about rock and art, and Bruce was refereeing, so they stuck em all on. Also,that’s  the reason it gets dark and depressing on side four. Somewhere here, a boy who was a man becomes an adult, and the party songs just reinforce it – A

Nebraska (1982) – Bruce Springsteen – The E Street band are MIA for the first time since the first album, these demos from the new great depression are stark and beautiful, Bruce would try this trick on other albums and never manage it – A

Born In The U.S.A. (1984) – Bruce Springsteen – In which Bruce discovers 808s and synth pop and transforms the charts into his own image – A+

Live 1975 – 1985 – Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band – Bruce finally gives his band headline billing, and the forty song, five album, knocking on four hour extravaganza, doesn’t merely answer, it also over replies to those who believe Bruce was only Bruce on stage… the only indispensable version is his cover of Tom Waits “Jersey Girl” – B+

Tunnel Of Love (1985) – Bruce Springsteen – The divorce album – A

Chimes Of Freedom (1988) – Bruce Springsteen – Pulled off his Amnesty International tour, with Bruce sounding very concerned as he explains the tour was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the declaration of human rights… “Be True” is a live take on the flip side of “Sherry Darling” and “himes Of Freedom” is that one – B

Human Touch (1992) – Bruce Springsteen – So he broke up the band, took a four year break, and returned with this dark and brooding modern rock sounding album, and the world blinked – B

Lucky Town (1992) – Bruce Springsteen – If Lucky Town was crimson red, Lucky Town was sky bright blue, his wedding album for Patti – B+

In Concert/MTV Plugged (1993) – Bruce Springsteen – Only Patti and Roy Bittan survived the great E Street purge, and only “Red Headed Woman” deserves remembering, bad versions of a lot of good to great songs – C+

Greatest Hits (1995) – Bruce Springsteen – With sales not what they were, these were the real hits plus three new songs featuring the return of the E Street Band – B

The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995) – Bruce Springsteen – Importance is not a synonym for lugubrious though don’t tell Bruce that on this acoustic folk album, that took its lead from a fictional character, already revered BY Woody Guthrie, as it told fictions about the fictional working class. The title track is a good song but a poorly considered song, “Straight Time” is a good song period, and then it gets even slower and more boring, as though those in search of a living wage don’t deserve a good time – C

Blood Brothers EP (1996) – Bruce Springsteen – It went along with a documentary about the E Street Band and Bruce together again recording the three songs on the Greatest Hits compilation, five songs, all crap… around about right this second I lost interest in Bruce on record – C

Tracks (1988) – Bruce Springsteen – A compilation off 66 demos, outtakes, and lost in the shuffle songs. Show me an album with songs as great as “Bishop Danced,” or “Johnny Bye Bye” and I’ll show you Another Self Portrait – A

18 Tracks (1999) – Bruce Springsteen – 15 off tracks, three others including “The Promise” -the hardcore fans insisted on the Darkness On The Edge Of Town outtake, after Bruce played it live in 1976 – B

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001) – Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band – The E Street Band reunion tour, I caught it five times, and it went from the sublime Meadowlands “Give The Girl A Great Big Kiss” gig to the ridiculous, overlong bore of a last show of the tour at MSG. The gimme here is “41 Shots” – B

The Rising (2002) – Bruce Springsteen – His 9-11 album, and so far my opinions have been essentially the same as most people’s but I dislike this album, it doesn’t work as metaphor and works less as documentary. It’s a little similar to the problem Bruce had with “Tom Joad” -it has the ring of received opinions the way, though undoubtedly just as received, the working class boys to men of Darkness didn’t. I’ll give him the title track and “My City Of Ruins” but nothing else, especially the forced ambivalence of “Waitin’ On A Summer Day”. Brendan O’Brien was not the man for the job… Incidentally, I caught the tour at Shea Stadium and it is one of only three times I’ve not enjoyed Bruce on stage… Grade: C

The Essential Bruce Springsteen (2003) – Bruce Springsteen – A flawless compilation from all points of Bruce’s career topped off by “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)” – A+

Devils & Dust (2005) – Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska was a fluke and the invigorating “All The Way Home” doesn’t save the album, which is still better than the middle one – C+

Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 (2006) – Bruce Springsteen – Introducing Bruce to the UK with an iffy concert – B-

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006) – Bruce Springsteen – Pete Seeger deserved this sort of tribute and Bruce does Pete very, very well – B+

Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band: Live in Dublin (2007) – The live version plus greatest hits – B

Magic – Bruce Springsteen (2007) – No, “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” isn’t all that, though “Livin’ In The Future” is Bruce’s best piece of agitprop ever… that “is anybody alive out there” is deadly – C+

Magic Tour Highlights EP (2008) – four song EP concludes with Danny Federici’s long goodbye on “4th Of July, Asbury Park” – B+

Greatest Hits (2009) – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Why? To add two tracks off The Rising and one off Magic – C

Working on a Dream (2009) – Bruce Springsteen – A lousy album of boring songs including “Outlaw Pete” which, well listen to it – C-

The Promise (2010) – Bruce Springsteen – Since Darkness On The Edge Of Town isn’t simply my favorite Bruce album, but if you have it in your top ten albums of all time, I’ll not disagree, I was gagging for this, but it is really a case where Bruce made the right choices the first time around – B-

Wrecking Ball (2012) – Bruce Springsteen – “Wrecking Ball” is the worst song Bruce has ever written, but “Shackled And Drawn” is excellent and “Easy Money” isn’t bad, and while Bruce sucks at politics (he lost his way years ago, tramping for the dire John Kerry), the rest of it sucks – C+

Collection: 1973–2012 (2012) – Bruce Springsteen – For fuck’s sake, knock it off – C-

High Hopes (2014) – Bruce Springsteen – Odds and sods and some of em are great, his cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” is Springsteen’s best recording of the decade – B

American Beauty EP (2014) – Bruce Springsteen – Outtakes from the High Hopes album, Bruce called the title track Exile meets E Street , it isn’t but a great concept nevertheless – B

The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973–1984 (2014) – Bruce Springsteen – His first seven albums all in one place… C

Tower Theater, Philadelphia 1975 (2015) – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Bruce began releasing his live shows on his own website (for money) one album earlier… I haven’t heard all of them, I have heard this killer New Year’s Eve set at the legendary theatre and a coupla other’s as well, including his second longest show EVER – A

The Ties That Bind: The River Collection (2015) – Bruce Springsteen – Overlong so how is it better even longer? Go figure… the set I saw at MSG was genius – A

Chapter and Verse (2016) – Bruce Springsteen – The autobiography was excellent and this companion piece at leas t includes pre-Greetings Bruce – B+

Springsteen on Broadway (2018) – Bruce Springsteen – I had front row for this and was still bored (though a shout out to Bruce’s killer boots), it is worse on record, except for that song where he tells his Mommy that if she wants a sad song he ain’t gonna play it – C+

Western Stars (2019) – Bruce Springsteen – SoCal Western garb, disappears into obscurity when compared to the real thing – C-

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2 Responses to “Bruce Springsteen’s Albums Reviewed In Chronological Order”

  1. Chad G Frelin

    9/11 was beyond strange and scary and uncomfortable. From hearing the first reports at work and then as it progressed getting updates from the secretary in the office one plane two planes buildings on fire people holding hands and leaping to there deaths emergency workers running in to buildings now our whole shop is crammed in to a small office looking at a small TV just trying to grasp what were looking at and then wholly shit the building is crumbling and the dust and debris every where and then realizing a lot of people life’s were just snuffed out and when things some what clear up and you realize there are people going in to the other tower still you realize for the first time what bravery looks like and my God here it goes and you don’t know how to feel anymore what is happening now people are just wandering out of the office and leaving with out words no byes no what about Tomorrow nothing you have nothing to pull from to help you understand what’s happening I picked up my kids from school I rode by every gas station with cars lined up for at least a mile there’s a slight panic with whispers of it’s just the beginning and more coming and there’s the thought in the back of your mind why are these guys charging so much for gas what have these people heard so to sit in these lines should I be. Confusion and just weirdness and horror realizing what’s going down. I don’t think this album was made with any thought about sales or what some critic thought of it i think it was made to put us in the heads of the people who lived it and dealt with the affects of it who lost so much and then brings us to the fact that we have to rise up from it and put our best foot forward and rise back up the best we can and let them see you can’t stop what makes us us. Just a big fuck you to those bastards who had to be blown away how the place that is not supposed to care about each other comes together like know one could imagine just throwing in and doing what needed to be done. No plan no one organizing it just people doing it. Our greatest moment as a country to me. pride I felt and for that little window when we all felt like one we forgot our bullshit for a while the pick up with the flag blowing out of the back and like hell ya. To put that time in to some kind of sense to step up and make an album about it and to not fuck it up at all no chest beating. I don’t usually come to tears listening to anything but these songs did. Not sure you rank an album like this and for some reason find it below your standards

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    • admin

      did you ever hear “on the transmigration of souls” by John Adams? That’s how you write about 9-11 -IL

      Reply

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