The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

ALBUM Review

Columbia Records | Release Date: September 23 2016


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

Bruce Springsteen’s 'Born to Run' autobiography was the top-selling book in multiple countries last week, earning raves from fans and critics worldwide. ‘Chapter and Verse,’ the audio companion to the gripping 528-page memoir, is 2016’s highest-debuting artist compilation, entering the Billboard 200 albums chart this week at No. 5. 'Born to Run' topped the New York Times Best Sellers list in the US and also debuted at No. 1 in the UK/Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. ‘Chapter and Verse’ bowed in the Top 10 in 16 countries besides the US, with No. 2 debuts in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Austria, and Italy. The album's No. 3 debut in Portugal gave Springsteen his highest chart entry there in more than a decade.

As compilations go Springsteen’s new release, backing as it does his new autobiography, is necessarily chronological, charting his beginnings with ‘The Castiles’, and ending with his 2012 album ‘Wrecking Ball’.

What you get is 18 songs chosen by Springsteen himself that trace his musical history from those early days. The big draw for fans though are surely the five previously unreleased tracks (including two from ‘The Castiles’ – ‘Baby I’ and ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover’) which feature a teenage Springsteen on guitar and vocals.

It’s these historical oddities and the next two songs: ‘He’s Guilty (The Judge Song)’ recorded by an early Springsteen band ‘Steel Mill’ in 1970; and ‘The Ballad of Jesse James’, a song from the short-lived ‘The Bruce Springsteen band’, that make you wonder what other gems lay undiscovered in the Springsteen vault. The final unreleased track ‘Henry Boy’ like the previous two show glimmers of what Springsteen would take and hone and re-work and nurture on his first recordings. 

Tellingly perhaps after all that looking back, there’s nothing here from that ground-breaking debut album ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N J’. Less surprisingly there’s no look-in for the generally disliked ‘Human Touch’ from 1992 (Springsteen himself said of that album: "I tried it (writing happy songs) in the early '90s and it didn't work; the public didn't like it).

Later albums despite their merits also get short shrift with nothing for fans of 2006’s ‘We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions’; 2007’s ‘Magic’ or 2009’s ‘Working on a Dream’. 

The essentials are of course there and represented, though neither Bruce’s biggest hit as a song-writer or highest charting single as a performer make the cut.

For fans of course it’s all about those unreleased songs as there are of course a plethora of compilations out there that better cast a light on the man and his music. If you’re interested in putting together a few more pieces into the puzzle of where Springsteen’s music came from then you’ll be buying this one and presumably already have that book.


by Mark Rockpit



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