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Bruce Springsteen

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I ran a search that yielded nothing, direct me if this has been done.

I had the chance to see The Wrestler this week, and the last sequence leading to the credits and Springsteen's song really, really moved me. It's very pretty stuff (been playing on loop since Sunday night), and its inspired me to check out more of Springsteen's catalog.

Problem is, outside of Philadelphia, I've never been exposed to any of it. I know absolutely nothing, beyond understanding that there's a ton of music to explore.

So: suggestions on starting points? Stuff to skip? Essentials?

Thanks!

ETA: Here's a link to an early version of The Wrestler: http://www.incontention.com/audio/sp...n_wrestler.mp3
post #2 of 34
The Albums of his I can recommend with absolutely no reservations are Born to Run, Born in the USA, Nebraska, The Rising, We Shall Overcome, and Magic. Those albums are the definition of "all killer, no filler."
post #3 of 34
post #4 of 34
Wrong. The Rising and Magic are both not great.

Born to Run first. Then Greetings from Ashbury Park. Then Darkness on the Edge of Town. Then Nebraska. Then the River.
post #5 of 34
I thought Magic was pretty great. Certainly his best in quite a while.
post #6 of 34
Just start with Greetings from Asbury Park and work your way through.
post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Ripoll View Post
Wrong. The Rising and Magic are both not great.

Born to Run first. Then Greetings from Ashbury Park. Then Darkness on the Edge of Town. Then Nebraska. Then the River.
There are so many reasons you are wrong about Magic but Girls in Their Summer Clothes and Radio Nowhere are the two biggest.

Plus, it's Asbury Park.

And, as much as I'm not a fan of The Wild, The Innocent..., it belongs before Darkness and Asbury.

As to the OP, if it's the rawness of his songs you like, always go early with Springsteen up to and including Nebraska. If you don't like the bar band done good sound of his early stuff then look to his eighties output. His lyrics have settled down a bit and the music is tighter. The production is usually fair-to-godawful but the songs are pretty impressive.
post #8 of 34
Find the DVD "Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live in New York City". That's what made me a fan.

And Devil's Arcade off of Magic is pretty solid.
post #9 of 34
Flyarz is probably the one who is most right, although Patrick's suggestion of starting with Born To Run is also acceptable. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is my personal favorite, but yeah, start with "Greetings" and go from there.

The live albums are all good to great, but as an introduction, I recommend the "Live in New York" album and then the "Hammersmith Odeon London 1975" as a starter. The three cd 75-85 set is awesome, but that's only after you have fallen in love.

Magic isn't the return I hoped for after the blow-your-socks off Seeger Sessions and the Dublin Live album*, but it's still pretty good. One of the things I like most about Springsteen is that even the clunkers have at least one or two great songs. Case in point: "Mary's Place."

*This album is a must own, simply because of some of the reinterpretations of his earlier stuff on it. It's the kind of album that leaves me kicking myself
post #10 of 34
Really you should just start with "Greetings From Asbury" all the way up to, and including, "Born in the USA." After that it can be hit and miss, with more misses in my opinion. However, those first seven are all great, and all different from each other. Greetings and Darkness are my favorites, though.

Born in the USA is kind of like Metallica's Black Album to me in that it kind of closed out a classic era, was very successful and popular, and resulted in a changed artist afterward. That's how I've always perceived it anyway.
post #11 of 34
Ironically, it's the album that literally saved his career.
post #12 of 34
Darkness on The Edge of Town is still my favorite. Such fantastic song-writing and energy. It's such a sad, sad album at its core too.
post #13 of 34
I haven't heard the song in The Wrestler, but my understanding is that it's acoustic. If you want more Springsteen in that vein, check out Nebraska. If you want his (deservedly) most acclaimed album, get Born to Run.

After that, I'd go with The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle, mostly because it's so different than just about anything else. It's the most R&B-inflected and full of these long, weird, jazzy songs with his most ornate lyrical passages. It's loose and fun, but still moving. A lot of these qualities are on Greetings, but I feel like he really nailed it on the second album - the Greetings songs play much better live than they do in the studio versions, whereas the Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle almost comes off like a live album, itself.

Then Darkness on the Edge of Town to round out the 70s and give you the dark counterpoint to Born to Run.

The River's definitely worth hearing, too.

After all of those, there's a dip in quality, but if you're completely new to Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. might work for you where it fails for many of us who had those songs crammed into our heads at early ages by unscrupulous rock DJs.

Personally, I'll take Magic over BITUSA any day. It's a fantastic return-to-form, and if it's no Born to Run, it's the closest he's come to a sound that approximates The River and, on occasion, even The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. Also, since it's his most recent, it might be similar in sound to whatever it is he contributed to The Wrestler.
post #14 of 34
Am I the only person who loves 'Tunnel of Love'?
post #15 of 34
With Tunnel of Love -- and this is going to sound strange -- I didn't like where Bruce was as a person at the time. And judging by the album, I don't think he did either. It seemed like he embraced the Born in the USA hype and became BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, married the beauty queen, and then realized that that wasn't him -- he should have been with Mary and her waving dress all along.

That said, the title track and "Brilliant Disguise" are two of my favorite Springsteen songs.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
That said, the title track and "Brilliant Disguise" are two of my favorite Springsteen songs.
'One Step Up' is probably my fav Springsteen song, but I love those two as well. This IS a very dark and introspective album, and that's probably why I like it so much.
post #17 of 34
That seems par for the course with Bruce though. He does the big sprawling upbeat crowd-pleasing album, then retreats into something smaller or darker: Born to Run/Darkness, The River/Nebraska, Born in the USA/Tunnel of Love, Human Touch & Lucky Town/The Ghost of Tom Joad.
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyarz View Post
Just start with Greetings from Asbury Park and work your way through.
Winner.

I'm disturbed, however, by the apparent (albeit there are a few exceptions) lack of love for "The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle" displayed in this thread. C'mon, people, you're better than that.
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattioli View Post
Winner.

I'm disturbed, however, by the apparent (albeit there are a few exceptions) lack of love for "The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle" displayed in this thread. C'mon, people, you're better than that.
Well, I did put it second on my list. And it might even be my favorite, but Born to Run is sort of more "essential," if that makes sense. Born to Run is more well-rounded, but TWTI&TESS is this weird, ungainly explosion of artistic energy that's probably either a huge turn-on or turn-off, depending on how far you're willing to follow Bruce for the emotional payoff.
post #20 of 34
Magic is good but Born in The USA is a classic.
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhishMan View Post
Magic is good but Born in The USA is a classic.
"Classic" is just a word. The overall sound of the album has aged poorly, and a lot of songs don't really hold up. Check out the tracklisting...

"Born in the U.S.A."
"Cover Me"
"Darlington County"
"Working on the Highway"
"Downbound Train"
"I'm on Fire"
"No Surrender"
"Bobby Jean"
"I'm Goin' Down"
"Glory Days"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"My Hometown"

Now how many of those really rank up there with his best songs? The title track, "I'm on Fire," "Dancing in the Dark," maybe "Bobby Jean" and "No Surrender" on a good night (but certainly not the shiny versions that are on the album). I can barely remember what "Darlington County," "Working on the Highway," and "Downbound Train" even sound like when I'm not actually listening to the album. Even if you don't think Magic has standout tracks on that level, it's more consistently good.

Plus, "Long Way Home" > "My Hometown"
post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
With Tunnel of Love -- and this is going to sound strange -- I didn't like where Bruce was as a person at the time. And judging by the album, I don't think he did either. It seemed like he embraced the Born in the USA hype and became BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, married the beauty queen, and then realized that that wasn't him -- he should have been with Mary and her waving dress all along.

It is my belief that this is exactly right. As I recall, the Tunnel of Love recordings were done during the time of his seperation and divorce. Even without the Caps of Personality from Born in the USA, I can tell you that when you're going through a split you feel diametrically opposed to the person you were previously. God bless 'im for sharing those parts of his life with us.

Oh, and Mattioli? The Wild and Innocent is nothing but the bomb, man. We got your back.
post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by teledork View Post
It is my belief that this is exactly right. As I recall, the Tunnel of Love recordings were done during the time of his seperation and divorce. Even without the Caps of Personality from Born in the USA, I can tell you that when you're going through a split you feel diametrically opposed to the person you were previously. God bless 'im for sharing those parts of his life with us.

Oh, and Mattioli? The Wild and Innocent is nothing but the bomb, man. We got your back.
They didn't file for divorce until '88, after the album had already been out for a while. They were still married when he started seeing Patti while on tour for Tunnel of Love. So the songs probably had more to do with being in a shitty marriage than getting out of that shitty marriage.

The sequencing on that album is so weird. Almost all of the good songs (including the three singles) are on the second side. Even when I bought it as a kid, I thought this was some kind of mistake.
post #24 of 34
Hell, just look at the cover photo for Tunnel of Love and compare it to every other album cover of his. That ain't Bruce.

And DaveB, I'll defend Downbound Train to the death. LOVE that song. Just so plaintive, and the guitar intro is great.
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveB View Post
Well, I did put it second on my list.
You were the exception to which I was referring.
Quote:
And it might even be my favorite, but Born to Run is sort of more "essential," if that makes sense. Born to Run is more well-rounded, but TWTI&TESS is this weird, ungainly explosion of artistic energy that's probably either a huge turn-on or turn-off, depending on how far you're willing to follow Bruce for the emotional payoff.
I absolutely 100% agree with you. "Born to Run" is, from a thematic standpoint, the more complete album. "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" is the sound of an artist striving to attain his own sound and doing it in a gloriously messy fashion: it's child birth.

And while I agree with the sentiment that "Born in the USA" suffers from the plastic-y sheen of its very 80s production value, it's still a great album. It's probably the Springsteen album I find myself listening to the most (especially when other people are around).

Lastly, I hesitate to qualify "Magic" as a return to form because that statement indicates that Springsteen has been in some sort of a slump. I don't find that to be the case. It's a good album, however. Excellent, even, at times: "Girls in Their Summer Clothes", "Gypsy Biker" and "Livin' in the Future", for example.
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Hell, just look at the cover photo for Tunnel of Love and compare it to every other album cover of his. That ain't Bruce.

And DaveB, I'll defend Downbound Train to the death. LOVE that song. Just so plaintive, and the guitar intro is great.
I'll even take "Leavin' Train" from Tracks over "Downbound Train."

I guess it's not even that the songs I mentioned are terrible. It's just that for a classic album, Born in the U.S.A. has a bunch of forgettable and kinda weak songs. I think it gets a pass because it was his biggest chart success on the strength of the singles, some of which are very good ("I'm on Fire," "Dancing in the Dark," the title track), one of which is only okay ("Glory Days") and some of which are actually verging on bad ("My Hometown," "I'm Goin' Down," "Cover Me"), if only by the standards set by his earlier material.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattioli View Post
Lastly, I hesitate to qualify "Magic" as a return to form because that statement indicates that Springsteen has been in some sort of a slump.
A slump on a Springsteenian level, which means there was certainly good stuff released - just not 70s/early 80s Springsteen good. Magic's his best album of original studio material since Nebraska, IMO. This is not meant to take away from the fact that others have a lot to offer (the aforementioned songs from BITUSA, the second side of Tunnel of Love, a handful of songs each from the twin bombs that everyone's conspicuously left out, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and The Rising - maybe not so much Devils and Dust, though).

Note I'm not counting the live albums or The Seeger Sessions, which, as a covers project, is sort of its own thing.
post #28 of 34
Yeah, no love for Devils and Dust? I think it's got some little gems on it.
post #29 of 34
I dig "Long Time Coming" "Jesus Was An Only Son" and "All I'm Thinking 'Bout Is You" a lot. The rest is pretty weak sauce. I still like it more than Magic.
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Ripoll View Post
I dig "Long Time Coming" "Jesus Was An Only Son" and "All I'm Thinking 'Bout Is You" a lot. The rest is pretty weak sauce. I still like it more than Magic.
Total madness. I don't see how one could like The River or Born in the U.S.A. and not get into Magic, at least a little.
post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveB View Post
Total madness. I don't see how one could like The River or Born in the U.S.A. and not get into Magic, at least a little.
I concur.
post #32 of 34
I don't understand the Magic hatred some people have. Girls in Their Summer Clothes, Devil's Arcade, Long Walk Home... come on fools!

Also, the Live in Dublin album with the Seger Sessions Band is all kinds of awesome. It's pretty cool hearing Springsteen try and different style of music while still making it sound great and rocking.
post #33 of 34
They JUST announced on NBC that Springsteen will play the halftime show at the Super Bowl.
post #34 of 34
Any of y'all read Born to Run yet? I got it from Santa so only a few pages in but loving it so far.

Saw him here in Auckland in early 2014. He did around two and a half hours, starting with an acoustic version of Lorde's "Royals", then went off, and came back for an encore which was the entirety of Born In The USA front to back. Nobody who knows about Bruce is surprised that he goes 3+ hours without flagging but seeing it live it's still impressive as heck. Dude puts men 30 years younger to shame with his superhuman stamina.
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