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Posted October 1, 2010
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The Tracks Before The Rising Came
When Bruce Springsteen recorded "The River" in 1980, he supposedly recorded as many as 150 songs for that album. Only 20 songs made the final cut. The rest ended up as B-sides or concert favorites. Yet, many of these songs are worthy of rememberance and "Tracks" contains a lot of these outtakes and B-sides, going all the way back to when Bruce was cutting demos for John Hammond in 1972 to the late 1990's before his resurgance and re-emergance with The E Street Band.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Like a lot of boxed sets, this 4-CD starts out slow. The early songs Bruce does with The E Street Band have some hints of the greatness that was to follow, such as "Bishop Danced", a Van Morrisonesque tune that never made it for the debut album. A few tracks later, there's "Thundercrack", a terrific, full-fledged rocker that Bruce recorded (but never used) for "Born To Run".
On the second CD, there's a treasure trove of outtakes from "The River" sessions, proving that Bruce was becoming a real workaholic by this point. Yet, there are many great songs here. Songs that ended up as B-sides ("Roulette"), others that become covers for other artists ("Hearts Of Stone") and a few that eventually became different songs for Bruce. For example, "Living On The Edge Of The World" had a few lines that would eventually end up on Bruce's stark acoustic masterpiece, "Nebraska".
Speaking of which, there are a few songs here that Bruce had recorded with The E Street Band before deciding on releasing "Nebraska" and these songs---"This Hard Land", "Cynthia" and "My Love Will Not Let You Down"---hint at what a good album it might have been.
Of course, that album would be "Born In The USA" and there's a fantastic acoustic version of that song, stripped of its anthemic roar yet full of scarifying power. There are also many outtakes from those sessions, some of which inexplicably should have been included on that album such as the wonderful doo-wop melody of "Man At The Top". And although there aren't too many outtakes from equally marvelous "Tunnel Of Love" LP, those songs---"The Wish" (which Bruce wrote for his mother) and "The Honeymooners"---are worth a listen.
Most of the songs off the fourth CD contains outtakes from "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town", the former which is probably Bruce's weakest album. Still, there are a few good songs here as well, particularly "Gave It A Name", "Part Man, Part Monkey" and "Brothers Under The Bridge". It should be mentioned that there is also an "18 Tracks" album available which features "The Fever", an excellent song that Bruce had written back in 1973 and was later covered by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.
Considering the fact that this boxed set is more than a decade old and considering Bruce's amazing output over the last few years, which ranks among his finest work, perhaps an updated version of "Tracks" is overdue. But you can't quibble with this collection of songs, even if it doesn't have Bruce's shortest song ever, "Held Up Without A Gun".
Posted October 1, 2010