- Album name: Live 1975–85
- Group name: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
- Artist name: Bruce Springsteen
- Year: 1986
- Number of discs: five
- Label: Columbia Records
- Collection: Selman
- Buy it on Amazon: $64.99
Level of familiarity before listening
To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never heard this record before, though I’m familiar with a bunch of the songs on it. I’m not much of a Bruce Springsteen fan, and have previously reviewed:
- Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973): 2/5
- Flat Top and Pin Drop (1975): 3/5
What I expected
This is a five LP set with 40 live songs from different performances over a ten year period from 1975 to 1985. I guess I expect it to be like Flat Top and Pin Drop, except much better produced, because Springsteen was already a star when he was doing these concerts (many of which were in huge arenas), and because the record company’s producers would have had plenty of material from which to choose the best.
What it was actually like
This was a lot of Bruce Springsteen, far more Springsteen than I’ve ever consumed before in my life, and far more than was necessary to get the point. I’m sure his fans went wild for this box set, though, because it had a bunch of his hits and everything sounded solid, and it was put together pretty nicely.
It occurred to me while listening that I think Springsteen is a terrible singer, and I can not stand his voice. I wonder if this is why I’ve heard that people think it makes sense to compare Springsteen with Dylan, or why Springsteen has intentionally cultivated the idea that he could be compared with Dylan – as a guy with a guitar who can’t sing very well, but can write very personal songs. Either way, if I were Springsteen, I definitely would not want myself compared with Dylan, considering how unfavorable those comparisons would be.
Another really annoying thing about Springsteen is his tendency to tell stories in the middle of his songs – for example, while the piano is playing a riff, so the song is kind of still going on, but also kind of paused. Maybe the producers should have put all the stories onto just one LP and then kept the other four LPs exclusively for music.
And of course, the saxophone. I’m not 100% sure, but it did sound to me like there might have been a saxophone solo in every single song, but for sure it was in most of them. The worst offenders were: Spirit in the Night, Paradise by the “C”, Independence Day and Darlington County. By the end of it, I wanted to yank his bandmate’s saxophone away, break into pieces over my knee, and shove it… into a place that would be family friendly, since ColossalReviews.com is a G-rated website.
The most boring songs on the record were: Backstreets, Independence Day, all of side 6, My Hometown, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Racing in the Street (which was also way too long), No Surrender and Jersey Girl.
His cover of Woody Guthrie’s classic This Land Is Your Land was uncommonly and almost impossibly terrible, so here are other versions from Peter, Paul and Mary and The Avett Brothers. On the other hand, I thought his cover of War was great (and I forgot again that it was a Temptations song before it was an Edwin Starr song).
Some other songs that I liked were: Growin’ Up, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Raise Your Hand and Cover Me.
Born to Run was done well, and I thought it would have mad a bigger impact by being placed last.
I always assumed that Because the Night was a Patti Smith song, but apparently it started as a Springsteen song. This version was good.
I loved the beginning of Hungry Heart when the crowd (at Nassau Coliseum on 28 December 1980) sang the first verse.
Born in the U.S.A. is probably the Springsteen song that I hate the most, as it’s the most anti-melodic and generally unpleasant.
3/5: interesting, but not for me
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