Poll On The Highway - Springsteen's The River

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I'm another one of those that grew up despising The Boss and most of what he stood for because I was 8 when Born in the USA came out and was really only exposed to those inesapable singles and the lackluster stuff that followed. I'm coming around on the stuff prior to that, particularly the prolific Darkness -> River era. But I'm finding The River to be a patchy, inconsistent, baffling, yet utterly intriguing beast and I'm curious to see what ILM thinks.

I'm pretty sure this hasn't been done before, couldn't find anything polling this album in the archives.

Poll Results

"The River" 8
"Hungry Heart" 7
"The Ties That Bind" 3
"Independence Day" 2
"Out in the Street" 2
"Stolen Car" 2
"Wreck On The Highway" 1
"Ramrod" 1
"Fade Away" 1
"Point Blank" 1
"Crush On You" 1
"Jackson Cage" 1
"Drive All Night" 0
"The Price You Pay" 0
"Sherry Darling" 0
"You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" 0
"I'm A Rocker" 0
"Cadillac Ranch" 0
"I Wanna Marry You" 0
"Two Hearts" 0

one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 9 December 2010 16:51 (ten years ago) link

As much as I'd like to think my favorite wasn't the title cut, it's the title cut. Sing it to myself all the time.

EZ Snappin, Thursday, 9 December 2010 16:57 (ten years ago) link

"Drive All Night" is a chore. "I'm On Fire" says it all in two minutes.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 9 December 2010 17:01 (ten years ago) link

I mean, this album has examples of the stuff I still hate about Springsteen ("Sherry Darling", "You Can Look") but also the amazing songwriting that turned me around on him (title track, "Stolen Car").

one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 9 December 2010 17:12 (ten years ago) link

Hungry Heart is probably my favorite Bruce single.

Trip Maker, Thursday, 9 December 2010 17:13 (ten years ago) link

For years I thought it was a Billy Joel song.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 9 December 2010 17:14 (ten years ago) link

He wrote it for the Ramones iirc.

Trip Maker, Thursday, 9 December 2010 17:15 (ten years ago) link

Got to be the title cut, no? The only one that would get on to the albums either side of The River, and which also feels absolutely crucial in giving this one ballast. And which contains one of the great couplets, in terms of conveying information without leaving the vernacular of the rest of the lyric: "I got Mary pregnant, and man that was all she wrote/ And for my 19th birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat."

ithappens, Thursday, 9 December 2010 19:46 (ten years ago) link

Love lots of this record, including some of the bar-band party tunes ("Sherry Darling," "Out in the Street," "I'm a Rocker"). Title track is great but I've come to think "Hungry Heart" gets at something a little more complex and less stark, and without so much portentousness. The song embraces its own contradictions, the difficulty of staying, the loneliness of leaving, the inevitable cycle of doing it again and again. It doesn't indict anybody, but it doesn't minimize the damage along the way. And I just love that big, stately hook.

Runner-up is "Cadillac Ranch," which seems all kinds of good-natured til you realize it's about death. Long and dark, shiny and black.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Thursday, 9 December 2010 19:57 (ten years ago) link

"Fade Away" is one of his prettiest songs, imo.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Thursday, 9 December 2010 19:59 (ten years ago) link

I thought he was kind of a dick to get a wedding coat but Mary doesn't get a dress.


EZ Snappin, Thursday, 9 December 2010 20:00 (ten years ago) link

the ties that bind

EIEIoOoOO (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 9 December 2010 20:02 (ten years ago) link

not sure what i'd vote for -- this is such a schizo album. probably the title track?
you can check out what a single disc version would be like here: www.guitars101.com/forums/f90/bruce-springsteen-the-ties-that-bind-1979-lost-album-105228.html

tylerw, Thursday, 9 December 2010 20:26 (ten years ago) link

kinda wish he coulda recorded all these songs like 10 years earlier

EIEIoOoOO (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 9 December 2010 20:26 (ten years ago) link

"Stolen Car" for me. There is fat on this album, but I still love a dozen or so tracks.

musicfanatic, Thursday, 9 December 2010 21:01 (ten years ago) link

stolen car

iatee, Thursday, 9 December 2010 23:15 (ten years ago) link

voted "Hungry Heart", but I've never really gotten into this record; my cd sounds like garbage & the skipping back & forth between silly rockers & draggy ballads kills my interest each time I give it another chance. otoh I have a friend who's a Springsteen fanatic & "Drive All Night" is his ~their song~ so I dunno.

Euler, Thursday, 9 December 2010 23:22 (ten years ago) link

jackson cage for the vocal line in the verses.

charlie h, Thursday, 9 December 2010 23:34 (ten years ago) link

Out in the Street is the one I go to for a pure pleasure rush, mind.

ithappens, Friday, 10 December 2010 01:21 (ten years ago) link

The Ties That Bind. One of the best things he's ever written, a near perfect British Invasion-style song.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 10 December 2010 02:08 (ten years ago) link

Boy, he really loves stretching syllables on this record, don't he?

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 10 December 2010 02:08 (ten years ago) link

stolen car

jeevves, Friday, 10 December 2010 06:57 (ten years ago) link

Gotta be obvious and vote for the title track. That one and "Hungry Heart" stick out here on an album of otherwise fine, but very similar sounding, tracks.

You're Twistin' My Melody Man! (Geir Hongro), Friday, 10 December 2010 11:44 (ten years ago) link

Title track by a nose from "Independence Day". I love this album and anyone who says "it could have made a great single album if some of the filler had been taken out" will have me to answer to.

ban this sick stunt (anagram), Friday, 10 December 2010 13:41 (ten years ago) link

title track is probably my favorite bruce track, so that. such an economical, devastating lyric.

swvl, Friday, 10 December 2010 16:27 (ten years ago) link

yeah, title track feels like the song he was building up to for most of his career -- he really nails it.

tylerw, Friday, 10 December 2010 16:29 (ten years ago) link

It's so hard to pick between Hungry Heart & The River. I'll put in a good word for "Two Hearts", not for any wow amazingness but just as a straight-down-the-line Bruce song.

Okay. Hungry Heart it is. Pulled it up on my ipod and it's just so unfuckwithable. Harmonies...keyboards & piano...sax...yep.

Square-Panted Sponge Robert (VegemiteGrrrl), Friday, 10 December 2010 18:14 (ten years ago) link

Independence Day for me.

The animal magnetism of Tim Pawlenty (Dan Peterson), Friday, 10 December 2010 18:29 (ten years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 00:01 (ten years ago) link

my favorite thing about this album is the guitar sound. it's bruce at his jangliest. i think i'm voting for "cadillac ranch," but i'm still somewhat uncommitted.

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:21 (ten years ago) link

Surprised for the lack of <3 for "I'm on Fire" which is gd amazing imo and what I voted for. Title track a close second.

ENBB, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:29 (ten years ago) link

Wait - I got confused for a second. lol.

ENBB, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:30 (ten years ago) link

The River it is.

ENBB, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:31 (ten years ago) link


Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:35 (ten years ago) link

You threw me off!

ENBB, Wednesday, 22 December 2010 02:36 (ten years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 23 December 2010 00:01 (ten years ago) link

sorry i missed this but justice was served in the end. tipsy mothra otm that "cadillac ranch" is the second-best thing on here. can't even listen to hungry heart.

all yoga attacks are fire based (rogermexico.), Thursday, 23 December 2010 05:57 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

would have voted "stolen car." what a goosebump-y song

horseshoe, Sunday, 13 March 2011 22:16 (ten years ago) link

Only 1 vote for Point Blank? You people disgust me.

reallysmoothmusic (Jamie_ATP), Sunday, 13 March 2011 22:23 (ten years ago) link

eesh, the single disc version of this record, The Ties That Bind, is great. basically a really tight, incisive concept album about marriage.
01 The Ties That Bind
02 Cindy
03 Hungry Heart
04 Stolen Car
05 To Be True
06 The River
07 You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
08 The Price You Pay
09 I Wanna Marry You

10 Loose Ends

tylerw, Thursday, 24 March 2011 17:47 (ten years ago) link

saw that; but are those different cuts of those songs than are o/w available? e.g. is "The Ties That Bind" the same take that opens The River?

Euler, Thursday, 24 March 2011 17:53 (ten years ago) link

pretty sure these are alt mixes, but very close to the ones that were officially released. here's a review
The Ties That Bind (as published in Backstreets #47, Fall 1994)
In the Fall of 1979, Bruce Springsteen finished a series of songs that would comprise The Ties That Bind, his fifth album. CBS Records hoped for a Christmas release, or early 1982 at the latest, but Springtsteen scrapped the project entirely after the songs were chosen and the album even sequenced. Hearing that lost album was only wishful thinking for Springsteen fans. Until now.
Original master tapes from the Power Station, location of recording sessions for The Ties That Bind and its ultimate successor, The River, serve as the source for this release. As a result, the sound quality is superb, rivaling and often surpassing even the Japanese version of The River on CD (which sounds slightly warmer than its American counterpart).

The Chief difference in sound is a greater ambiance. Listeners will note a warmer, more intimate sound on common songs like "Hungry Heart" (which is identical to the officially released version) and on slightly different versions of familar songs like "The Ties That Bind" and "The River". Perhaps the best example is "The Price You Pay", which Power Station notes indicate is the first take. Greater separation between the acoustic guitar (left channel) and electric guitar (right channel) and improved sound on Max Weinberg's snare and cymbals, not to mention the alternate third verse, make for a new aural experience. Furthermore, the E Street Band flat-out nailed this song on the first take.

While fans will enjoy the alternate takes of songs that made it to The River, the flawless sound of the still-unreleased gem "Cindy" will cause jaws to drop. Sound on previously circulated tapes, records, and CD's has ranged from fair to very good, but The Ties That Bind will render those versions vastly inferior. The material is bright, distinct in both channels, pitched correctly, and without any of the evident flaws of the past.

In addition to the quantum leap in sound, there are also considerable thematic differences that distinguish The Ties That Bind from The River. From the original version of "Stolen Car" (in its "Son, You May Kiss The Bride" arrangement) to the sequencing of the rockabilly "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" immediately after "The River" (which opens the second side- contrast that with its place as the final song on the first disc of The River. Yet Springsteen told Marsh that after the excitement of the MUSE shows in September 1979, the album "seemed inadequate." Fifteen years after Springsteen shelved The Ties That Bind, there is little to suggest inadequancy. And, for once, fans have as much proof as they need.

1. The Ties That Bind (3:37)
2. Cindy (2:28)
3. Hungry Heart (3:28)
4. Stolen Car (4:33)
5. To Be True (3:54) - aka "Be True"
6. The River (4:54)
7. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) (2:12)
8. The Price You Pay (5:51)
9. I Wanna Marry You (3:31)
10. Loose Ends (4:08)

tylerw, Thursday, 24 March 2011 17:59 (ten years ago) link

I love this album and anyone who says "it could have made a great single album if some of the filler had been taken out" will have me to answer to.

― ban this sick stunt (anagram), Friday, December 10, 2010 2:41 PM (3 months ago) Bookmark

ban this sick stunt (anagram), Thursday, 24 March 2011 18:34 (ten years ago) link

haha, i still think the river is a great album, i just think it's interesting to hear some of the songs in a different way. don't hurt me!

tylerw, Thursday, 24 March 2011 18:48 (ten years ago) link

gonna give this a shot, as I've never really "gotten" The River; though partly it's the sound; compared to live versions at the time the album takes sound so thin to me, but not in a new-wave-y way, really (which would be redeeming)

Euler, Thursday, 24 March 2011 18:52 (ten years ago) link

Man, I am loving The Ties That Bind -- thanks for mentioning it Tyler.

Mark, Friday, 25 March 2011 01:33 (ten years ago) link

I wonder how big the reissue box set of this one is gonna be?

Your cousin, Marvin Cobain (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 25 March 2011 01:39 (ten years ago) link

four years pass...

Well, now we know

schlep and back trio (anagram), Friday, 16 October 2015 09:28 (five years ago) link

Always felt The River was by far the best-produced Springsteen record (or at least neck-and-neck with Nebraska).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 18 October 2015 16:20 (five years ago) link

Nebraska wasn't produced.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 18 October 2015 17:59 (five years ago) link

Sure it was. He decided to position the mic here, add reverb there, overdub here...he obviously didn't think of it as production while he was doing it, but it was still production.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 18 October 2015 18:03 (five years ago) link

For some reason, the title track has always been inextricably linked with "Deer Hunter" in my mind.

Mule, Sunday, 18 October 2015 18:24 (five years ago) link

Not only was "Nebraska" produced in the strictest sense, they worked their as off to mix/master it. Which was hard, because he recorded it at least partly I think on a boombox that got wet when he took it on a canoe trip with a friend.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 18 October 2015 18:51 (five years ago) link

"Then there was the mixdown deck. Turns out they mixed down to the only other deck they had around that had a line input, which was an old Panasonic boom box with a history of its own. You see, Bruce had a canoe he liked to take out on this little branch of the river that flowed near his house, and the previous summer during one of those trips the boom box had fallen overboard and sunk in the mud. Later that day when the tide went out, he retrieved it, brought it back to the house, hosed off the mud and left it on the porch for dead. About a week later, he was sitting on the porch reading the Sunday paper, and the boom box all of a sudden comes back to life.

"So now it's the following January, and forgetting about all that, this was the machine they used for their mixdown deck. I should add that neither Bruce nor Mike were all that familiar with the concept of head cleaning or alignment, so the heads on the boom box, the PortaStudio and the Echoplex never did get a cleaning.

"Now, from January when they mixed those demos through around April, Bruce had walked around with the only copy of these mixes in the front pocket of his jeans jacket the whole time. And here was the tape he was holding up in the studio and saying, 'there's just something about the atmosphere on this tape. Can't we just master off this?'

"Well of course you could just about hear the moans coming from all the engineers in the room. We were all trained to get the best sound possible on the best equipment, and here was our artist asking us to go against pretty much everything we knew. And I said 'yes Bruce, we could. I'm not sure you'll like it, but we could.' I could've said no, that the sound wasn't good enough to master off of, but that's not what it's all about. We work for the artist, and we're there to help them achieve their vision, even if it goes against all the rules of engineering. I guess that's probably part of why I'm still working for Bruce after all these years.

"So I gave that cassette to an assistant and told him to copy it onto a good piece of tape. Then we went around to four or five different mastering facilities, but no one could get it onto a lacquer - there was so much phasing and other odd sonic characteristics, the needle kept jumping out of the grooves. We went to Bob Ludwig, Steve Marcussen at Precision, Sterling Sound, CBS. Finally we ended up at Atlantic in New York, and Dennis King tried one time and also couldn't get it onto disk. So we had him try a different technique, putting it onto disk at a much lower level, and that seemed to work. In the end we ended up having Bob Ludwig use his EQ and his mastering facility, but with Dennis' mastering parameters. And that's the master we ended up using.

"The album sounds the way it does because of all those factors - the multiple tapes, the dirty heads, the varispeed - it's all part of the overall atmosphere, and part of what Bruce liked about the songs. At the end of the day, he was able to get his ideas down on tape, in his own environment, thanks to a PortaStudio and a pair of 57's, and that was the equipment he needed to get the sound he was looking for."


Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 18 October 2015 18:54 (five years ago) link

At one point, they felt they'd exhausted their mastering options, and seriously considered only releasing it as a cassette.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 18 October 2015 21:54 (five years ago) link

three years pass...

Listening to the outtakes for the first time and am amazed that he has "Stray Bullet" in his pocket and has never played it live.


... (Eazy), Saturday, 1 June 2019 02:14 (one year ago) link

Official video page only has 698 views lol


... (Eazy), Saturday, 1 June 2019 02:23 (one year ago) link

Between this guy and Prince, it's amazing how much stuff they had left over, even after they gave tons of A+ material away.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 1 June 2019 04:08 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

I’ve been listening to this one a lot lately, and finding it really fascinating. It’s such a kaleidoscope of an album, all these little pieces that seem so chaotic and jumbled, but every time you listen a pattern emerges and you hear something new.

The latest thing to really jump out at me is “I’m a Rocker.” I figured this was just one of the “fun” songs and it kind of bored me, and half the time I’d skip it. Then one day I listened to the last verse and it hit me that for every song Bruce has written about depression, this is the only one I can think of that’s about mania. The song is full of these outrageous boasts about how great he is, but then at the end, it’s “Sometimes I get so hot, girl I can’t talk/ but when I’m with you, I cool off / and I walk/ and I talk/ every day/ EVERY DAY / EEEEVVVERY DAAAY!” And that’s how he ends the song: screaming in hysterical triumph about being able to perform the most basic functions of a human being. It’s a manic song about mania and it’s low-key brilliant, but it took a lot of listens for it to emerge from the background of “The River” and show itself properly.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 19 December 2019 19:22 (one year ago) link

It's definitely his manic record, that's for sure. And telling that it was followed by "Nebraska," his most traditionally haunted/haunting album. After all, "The River" features some real tells about his state of mind (maybe).

"Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack/I went out for a ride and I never went back."

"And I'm driving a stolen car
On a pitch black night
And I'm telling myself
I'm gonna be alright
But I ride by night
And I travel in fear
In this darkness I will disappear"

"Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse"

"Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
And I watch my baby as she sleeps
Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
Thinking 'bout the wreck on the highway"

Springsteen apparently said of "Wreck on the Highway" "that after seeing the accident the singer 'realizes that you have a limited number of opportunities to love someone, to do your work, to be part of something, to parent your children, to do something good.' That's a pretty pessimistic turn inward from the forward-looking themes of "we got to get out of this town full of losers." Even "The Promised Land," with its "take a knife and cut this pain from my heart" line, is ultimately optimistic. The "BitUSA" album is no less fatalistic, but it does find some humor in that fatalism. It also might have marked when he started seeing a therapist.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 December 2019 20:33 (one year ago) link

Yeah, it’s definitely his most bipolar record. It feels so casual, like he just reached into a pocket, pulled out a handful of songs and scattered them in front of us, but in the end I think he got the balance of opposing forces just right. I’ve tried making my own ideal version of this album using outtakes, and while I end up liking the individual songs better, the balance of light and dark ends up feeling off.

“Wreck on the Highway” is up there in my top ten Bruce songs, for sure. Maybe top five. It’s so heartbreaking, and yet it has that quiet spareness that keeps it from sentimentality. There’s something so haunting about brushing up against someone else’s tragedy and having it become part of your life.

“Hungry Heart” is such an interesting one. It’s crazy to me that he wrote it for the Ramones, given how much it seems like a thesis statement for everything he would ever write for his whole career. It’s so deceptively poppy, and then you hit a line like, “Don’t make no difference what nobody said/ ain’t nobody like to be alone,” and realize that one of the great things about Bruce Springsteen is that he doesn’t lie to himself and he won’t let you lie to yourself either.

I’m also finding that I looooove “Sherry Darling” more every time I listen to it. I know Nebraska is his big Flannery O’Connor record, but this is the song that first made me go, “Hey, has Bruce Springsteen been reading ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find?’” I like that there’s a song where he really leans into the humor of Flannery O’Connor, because she is funny, in her weird way.

So yeah, humor and darkness and melancholy and hope and fear, and pure silliness, and these wild swings between them. It feels more balanced to me than Darkness on the Edge of Town, which feels like a pressure-cooker of barely controlled anger. If I didn't know anything about Springsteen's biography, I'd worry more about the guy who wrote Darkness than the guy who wrote The River. But there's definitely a feeling that if things swing too far and nothing comes along to right the balance, it could all go off the rails.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 19 December 2019 23:16 (one year ago) link

Darkness, he intentionally left off his fun/love/party songs, reportedly to Steven's chagrin. He wanted it lean and mean, as a sort of statement of purpose after being sidelined with that lawsuit. Steven helped pick the songs for The River, though, which is why there are so many classic rock and roll moments (many of which were given to others).

Something I've always wondered about: up until BitUSA there were always tons of Bruce outtakes floating around, demos and alternate takes and all sorts of stuff. Then he gets his own studio, and since then ... totally locked down. I don't think there has really been a single leaked song since USA. And yet, I wonder if he still has dozens of songs sitting around? He's talked about abandoned albums before - country album, hip-hop influenced album, electric Nebraska, whatever - but has he stayed as prolific? I dunno. He's talked about being worried he might not have another E Street Band album in him anymore, but then he said he was hit with inspiration, and those are the songs going toward the future new album. But does he have a backlog? He's always seemed so specific about what goes on each album, so I wouldn't be shocked if he did have tons of stuff in the vaults he just doesn't know what to do with.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 19 December 2019 23:38 (one year ago) link

What I really want to hear is the stuff from the nineties that he reportedly scrapped because it was too dark and nihilistic. I want to know what "too nihilistic" means to the guy who made Ghost of Tom Joad in that very same decade.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 19 December 2019 23:50 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

I used to dislike "You can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," because I found it uncharacteristically MRA-ish, but then it finally dawned on me that the entire song is just a setup for the punchline where the title means, "You can watch the drive-in movie (but don't have sex in your caaaaaarrrrrr!)" and now I like it much better.

Lily Dale, Sunday, 1 March 2020 05:39 (one year ago) link

four weeks pass...

It's not my favorite album, but it's where he learned to sustain his terseness.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 29 March 2020 01:30 (one year ago) link

I kind of get what you're getting at, but Springsteen (on record) was hardly a rambler of epics and sprawl. The runtime of "Born to Run" is a mere 39 minutes, with two real epics (one around 6 minutes and one around 9) and an average track length of around 4:75. "Darkness" runs longer, around 43 minutes, but with only one real epic (around 7 minutes) and an average track length of around 4:30. "The River" runs about 85 minutes, so around twice as long, but also with only two real epics (one around 6 minutes, one around 8), and the average track only negligibly shorter, at 4:20 or so.

HIs trick (or demerit, or gift) was to imbue his mostly 4-ish minute rock songs with the *quality* (in the character sense) of epics, so that they feel bigger than what they actually are. To that end, "The River" is kind of a weird ride, where the one true epic ("Drive All Night") indeed doesn't earn its length, but where in context a bunch of stuff hovering at barely 3 minutes has much more of an impact, and not just for their deceptively disposable brevity. They help make the album itself feel bigger than it is, too, which is the way the best double+ albums work. The filler and apparent throwaways both serve to enhance the top stuff by proximity but also reveal their own sneaky pleasures. Hence something like "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" easily justifiable as a keeper on your list amidst all those heavies.

Needless to say, we can thank his generous donation of several albums worth of material to others for allowing "Born in the USA" to exist as the only of his records, to imo truly exemplify a striking economy. (Illusory lo-fi asceticism of "Nebraska" aside.)

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 29 March 2020 03:25 (one year ago) link

The Wild, The Innocent... brings the epics.

"...And the Gods Socially Distanced" (C. Grisso/McCain), Sunday, 29 March 2020 03:30 (one year ago) link

A cool thing about BITUSA is how successfully it folds down all the elements of The River into a single LP.

"...And the Gods Socially Distanced" (C. Grisso/McCain), Sunday, 29 March 2020 03:34 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

If you want the box set, I guess it's a great time to buy it, at least on ebay. I found a virtually new copy of the Blu-ray edition for $30 (including shipping and taxes!) and to my surprise no one else was bidding on it, just "watching" it. A quick search turned up a few other auctions that had just ended where people sold off their used copies for about the same or even less if it was damaged. I know Sony unloaded their overstock to a drugstore chain in Canada, and those stores sold it at the bargain price of $30, so it was nice to get it here for the same.

I thought the original list price of $130 was a rip-off. The audio/visual content doesn't live up to that price, but in their defense, you can see where the money went - the hardcover book is beautifully done, from the design to the printing. The packaging in general is tastefully done, high quality without being over-the-top. (The Darkness/Promise set appropriately mimicked a spiral notebook, and I imagine the cost of producing that packaging was substantially less, even if it was specialized.)

Anyway, I forgot this thing came out five and a half years ago. (I was a lot poorer then!) I know "Tracks 2" is being worked on, but the long wait doesn't give me much hope of another album box set, much less a series of them.

birdistheword, Saturday, 3 April 2021 01:16 (one week ago) link

Springsteen hinted in his radio show a while back that the Born in the USA box set was on its way sometime soon. Of course that doesn't necessarily mean anything. But that's the one I'm really looking forward to.

Lily Dale, Saturday, 3 April 2021 01:21 (one week ago) link

For some reason I didn't get around to listening to the Ties That Bind set until very recently. "Stray Bullet" is just amazing, that slow-building dread and then the payoff that's like being punched in the stomach. I can see why he left it off the album; it would have thrown off the balance. But wow, what a song.

Lily Dale, Saturday, 3 April 2021 01:27 (one week ago) link

Springsteen hinted in his radio show a while back that the Born in the USA box set was on its way sometime soon. Of course that doesn't necessarily mean anything. But that's the one I'm really looking forward to.

Since there was some cross-pollination between the earliest Born in the USA sessions and the Nebraska sessions (making the vast difference between both albums all the more astounding), I was hoping he'd fold both albums into the same box set. It would be a nice insurance policy in case there's any question of whether a Nebraska box set will sell enough copies, and the Nebraska material is small enough that it shouldn't be too hard to include it with a large Born in the USA box set. (There were no Nebraska live shows, there aren't many outtakes or demos when you take out the stuff that could be categorized as Born in the USA material, and in terms of the documentary, the making-of story would fold in pretty organically with the making of Born in the USA.) Anyway, I'm glad he said something was coming.

And yeah, "Stray Bullet" is a great outtake. With the possible exception of "Be True," "Loose Ends" and maybe "Cindy," I think he made right the call in setting aside the outtakes - nothing against them as recordings, but as sprawling as The River may be, the sequencing is really meticulous, and I'm not sure it would have benefitted the album as a whole to include most of those outtakes. Even a great song like "Roulette" would have felt out of place thematically, and having another gun metaphor with "Point Blank" would be overdoing it.

birdistheword, Saturday, 3 April 2021 02:10 (one week ago) link

Come to think of it, imagine if "Stray Bullet" and "Roulette" had both made it on there alongside "Point Blank." Prefab Sprout would be recording "Cars, Guns and Girls" (not to be confused with "Lawyers, Guns and Money").

birdistheword, Saturday, 3 April 2021 02:13 (one week ago) link

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