Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Mar-Apr Contents 92 Rhythms
Late last year Dylan released The
Cutting Edge box set about which
many people, including myself,
spent a suitable time raving.
Then Springsteen dropped this
collection and it almost slipped
under the radar here, which is
surprising given his profile.
Of course, both have rusted on fans
who hang on their every move but
I suppose seminal recordings from
1965 seem more noteworthy than
something released in 1980 – but that
should not diminish the importance
of this collection from Springsteen.
It is difficult to recommend to
readers that they should part out
$150 for a six CD Dylan set or
$175 for a four CD/three DVD
Springsteen collection, especially
when people might have many of
the tracks already on other official
releases. Sometimes I feel that with
all the re-releases we are being
offered I am buying my entire
record collection all over again.
So something has to be special to
make me justify such an investment.
Happily, Dylan and Springsteen are
worth it. I also figure that, having
forked out the money myself, I can
give you an objective opinion on
whether you should spend your hard-
earned on a box set or buy 35 fish
tacos at Bluesfest!
The River, Springsteen’s fifth album,
released on October 17, 1980 was a
double album set that was twice as
long as anything he had previously
released. The recording sessions
behind the album were just as epic.
Apparently, Springsteen locked
himself away in a New Jersey
farmhouse, wrote 95 songs, recorded
them with an acoustic guitar, then
went into the studio and cut 104
tracks with the E Street Band.
Twenty of those songs eventually
made the final album version. The
selection process for The River
must have been an intriguing
one. Some of Dylan’s best songs
never made official releases and it
is the same here for Springsteen.
Some musicians spend a lifetime
working and never write anything
as good as the songs that Dylan and
From all the tracks he recorded,
Springsteen somehow whittled them
down to 10 songs for a single disc
release, submitted it to his record
company and then changed his
mind. Only seven of those ended up
on what eventually became a double
album, some of them in slightly
different form – and now you get to
hear how those songs evolved.
A perfect example of a song that
perhaps should have been in the final
cut is ‘Loose End,’ which closed the
single album but never made it onto
the double. It is classic Springsteen
and one can only surmise that the
only reason it was excluded from
the final cut was that it sounded too
much like something off ‘Darkness
On The Edge of Town’ the 1978 album
that preceded ‘The River’.
“We were still figuring out who
we were,” says Springsteen in the
one-hour documentary included in
this box set. He talks at length about
the background to the album and
illustrates how the songs were written.
By the time ‘The River ’ was released
Springsteen had just turned 30 and
his pre-occupations were different
than those on previous albums.
If ‘Born To Run’ offered a joyous
escape in 1975 and ‘Darkness On The
Edge of Town’ looked closer to home
in 1978, then ‘The River’ showed the
writer becoming an adult, with all
its ensuing responsibilities. This
precedes ‘Nebraska’ and it is really
a watershed in Springsteen’s career.
Some claim that it is his best album
and it is hard to disagree with that
‘The Ties That Bind: The River
Collection’ comes with a hardcover
148-page coffee table book with
photos, excerpts from Springsteen’s
notebooks and a new essay from
journalist Mikal Gilmore plus the
original Rolling Stone album review
from 1980. The box set also features
24 songs (160 minutes) on two DVDs
from Springsteen’s November 5, 1980
concert at Arizona State University
in Tempe. It is regarded as one of
Springsteen’s finest performances
and features early live versions of
over half ‘The River’ songs.
Springsteen’s performances are no
less monumental now, 36 years later!
He is currently on The River tour in
the USA and that takes him through
to the end of April. Later, he heads
off to Europe. I have often said that
seeing him is the closest I will ever
come to experiencing the charisma
of Elvis Presley. It is an amazing
experience. Let’s hope he makes it
out here again soon. The River Tour
sounds like one of the highlights of
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Links Archive 2016 Jan-Feb 2016 May-Jun Navigation Previous Page Next Page