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Ahead of the release of the Boss’s latest album, Western Stars, we rate all 18 of his studio albums to date

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18. High Hopes (2014)

Old songs, covers, revivals of old covers. It seemed as though, on his 18th studio album, Bruce Springsteen was, for the first time, casting around for inspiration. It’s not bad – no Springsteen album is genuinely bad – but it did seem more of a shrug than a statement.

17. Lucky Town (1992)

In 1989, Springsteen dissolved the E Street Band and moved to California to start anew. That shift took form in two simultaneous albums, neither of which were strong enough on their own. This was the rockier one, and on Leap of Faith offered Springsteen’s worst lyric: “Your legs were heaven, your breasts were the altar.”

16. Human Touch (1992)

Pipping Lucky Town because, if you squint a little, you could pretend it was made up of outtakes from the Tunnel of Love sessions: it’s synth-driven and more sombre than Lucky Town. The title track is a neglected minor classic, with a key Springsteen message: “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch.”

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Watch the video for Human Touch

15. Working on a Dream (2009)

And now into the run of albums for the 2000s that, without ever touching the heights of the glory days, regularly offered startling moments. Sadly, the most startling moment on Working on a Dream is Outlaw Pete, a Western fantasy that appeared to have been cribbed, implausibly, from I Was Made For Lovin’ You by Kiss.

14. Wrecking Ball (2012)

Springsteen’s joyous live shows tend to overshadow the fact that almost all the music he has made this century has been sombre. Wrecking Ball was a furious record: We Take Care of Our Own was a statement that America had very much failed to live up to the title’s statement; Death to My Hometown was a very different version of home to My Hometown. That said, the Irish folk elements throughout sit oddly.

13. The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995)

Springsteen found his way back after Lucky Town/Human Touch by stripping back and turning his gaze towards the dispossessed. Tom Joad was, if anything, even bleaker than Nebraska. Where that dealt with lives that were the focus of attention – the blue-collar dispossessed – this paid attention to the migrants who had slipped off the edges of society.

Bruce Springsteen in concert in Toronto, January 20, 1981.
 Bruce Springsteen in concert in Toronto, January 20, 1981. Photograph: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images

12. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)

Despite the politics implicit in covering songs associated with Pete Seeger, The Seeger Sessions was the most joyful record Springsteen had made in years, perhaps since The River: a compendium of American folk styles that sounded like an astounding house party, and played out like one in the accompanying live shows.

11. Magic (2007)

Magic, the first E Street Band album since The Rising, revisited the bar-band R&B stomp on tracks such as Livin’ in the Future, but there’s a bittersweet feeling to much of it: Girls in Their Summer Clothes isn’t just lecherousness, it’s also about ageing. The anger comes through in a triptych towards the album’s close – Magic, Last to Die and Long Walk Home – that plots how far America has travelled from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

10. The Rising (2002)

An album that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t: both a reunion with the E Street Band, 18 years after their last album together, and a set of songs that reflected on 9/11 and its aftermath for the individuals caught up in it, leavened with the celebrations of Mary’s Place and Waitin’ on a Sunny Day. The dramatic, anthemic title track was a deeply moving reminder that there remained possibility, even in the wake of despair.

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Watch the video for Devils and Dust

9. Devils and Dust (2005)

Commonly viewed as a successor to Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad – acoustic guitars, desolation – Devils and Dust was more musically diverse than either of them, and the desolation was tempered by the hope in Long Time Comin’ and Maria’s Bed. Even on something as downbeat as The Hitter, there is a picaresque quality that relates back not just to Nebraska, but to the very early Springsteen records.

8. Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (1973)

“Madman drummers, bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat,” were the opening words of Springsteen’s debut, setting the scene for a record of shaggy-dog stories, the sound of a man wide-eyed at everything the world might have to offer him. The soon-to-be-giant sound of the E Street Band hasn’t fully grown, and charm abounds.

7. The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle (1973)

A definite step on from the debut: the songs sprawl more but also seem to have become sharper, more cinematic. With Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Springsteen crafted his first genuinely indelible song – still a setlist staple – with the single best expression of what it must be like to be young with a life in music ahead: “Tell him this is his last chance / To get his daughter a fine romance / Because the record company, Rosie, they just gave me a big advance!”

6. The River (1980)

There are two albums interwoven on The River. There’s one of throwaway rock’n’roll songs, made for playing live, but a little shrill on record. And there’s one of devastating ballads, picking at the seams of broken lives, notably the staggering title track, which writes a novel in a sentence: “Then I got Mary pregnant / And, man, that was all she wrote / And for my 19th birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.” Still the album that is most like a Springsteen live show.

Bruce Springsteen in July 1992.
 Bruce Springsteen in July 1992. Photograph: Keith Meyers/Getty Images

5. Nebraska (1982)

A set of demos released because the E Street Band couldn’t record them to Springsteen’s satisfaction, Nebraska displayed his growing fascination with American folk music and with diving deeper into the lives of the people he sang about, whose alienation had taken them beyond despair and outside the boundaries of society. On State Trooper, too, you heard the first evidence he had been listening closely to Suicide.

4. Born to Run (1975)

The album that changed everything – strictly, the title track that changed everything – and the album where Springsteen starts to make the transition from a musician to an idea, a representation of a set of personal and musical values. To manage not just Born to Run itself, but the astounding Thunder Road, the euphoric Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, the melancholic Backstreets, the epic Jungleland – what an extraordinary achievement.

3. Born in the USA (1984)

Misunderstood, yes, but Springsteen has to shoulder some of the blame: make an album that sounds like a state fairground on 4 July and plenty of people are going to think you are celebrating America. It’s possibly the place where Springsteenisms calcify into cliche – Darlington County, Working on the Highway, No Surrender – but it’s played with such fire, such total commitment, that it brooks no doubt.

2. Tunnel of Love (1987)

Born in the USA is the pivotal moment in Springsteen’s career: everything afterwards feels in some way like an attempt to sidestep it. That was never plainer than in its follow-up, in which for the first time Springsteen delved deep into his inner life – not his family, but himself – to reveal his fears: “Is that me, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?”

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Watch a live version of racing in the Street from 2009

1. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

Bruce Springsteen makes the biggest promise rock’n’roll can offer: redemption. On Darkness on the Edge of Town, though, he warns against placing too much faith in it. Don’t desire the things that can only be found in that darkness, he seems to say; remember that dreams are just lies that leave you lost and brokenhearted. Everything that is good can also destroy you, be it your quest for freedom or the simple fact of having a job (“Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes”). And on Racing in the Street, arguably his greatest song, he asked the most profound question: what defines a person?

https://www.theguardian.com/mu...gsteen-albums-ranked

____________________________________

The SPL Rocks!

 

Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03



Oats

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

It is hard to rank 18 mostly great albums, so this is just a ranking the discs in order of which I've enjoyed most in my lifetime

1 The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

2 Darkness On the Edge Of Town

3 The River

4 Born To Run

5 Nebraska

6 The Rising

7 Born In the USA

8 Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

9 Wrecking Ball

10 Tunnel Of Love

11 Lucky Town

12 Magic

13 We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

14 Ghost of Tom Joad

15 Devils and Dust

16 High Hopes

17 Human Touch

18 Working On A Dream

 

for me, it constantly changes depending on my experiences in life, but right now..

 

 

1 Darkness On the Edge Of Town

2 Nebraska

3 The River

4 The Rising

5 Tunnel Of Love

6 Born To Run

7 The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

8 Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

9 Born In the USA

10 Ghost of Tom Joad

11 Devils and Dust

12 Lucky Town

13 Human Touch

14 Wrecking Ball

15 Magic

16 Working On A Dream

17 High Hopes

18 We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Skipja?k posted:

seeger above gotj ? no no no no

 

Seeger Sessions for me, came out at a time in my life where my two kids were just the right age for singing songs in the car. They loved that CD and I had to play it wherever I went. That said, both GOTJ and SS are excellent discs. If I were to rate Seeger I'd give it 85/100, Ghost would get 84.

Here's mine. Oats, since you posed the question in the post title, I'm curious about  your list.

1. Nebraska

2. Darkness On the Edge Of Town

3. Born To Run

4. The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

5. The River (would be #2 or 3 if “Roulette” replaced “Crush On You” and “Be True” or “Loose End” replaced “I’m a Rocker”)

6. Tunnel Of Love

7. Ghost of Tom Joad

8. Born In the USA

9.  The Rising (would be higher if it was 12 songs instead of 15; you can pretty easily guess the 3 to toss out)

10. Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

11. Magic

12. Wrecking Ball

13. Lucky Town

14. Human Touch

15.  Devils and Dust

16. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

17. Working On A Dream

18. High Hopes


 

"I've done my best to live the right way"

Last edited by LB

"Here's mine. Oats, since you posed the question in the post title, I'm curious about  your list."  LB, You asked so you shall receive. 

1 The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

* You never forget your first.  This album brought me to the party.  Incident- is still my favorite song.

2 Born To Run

*IMHO-The greatest Rock and Roll album of all time.

3 Darkness On the Edge Of Town

* A hair below  B2R, one of the greatest.

Born In the USA

* Just like the title of a recent movie- The Meg.

5 The Rising

*The timing, why and what it was written for.  From start to finish, the unabashed, complete enthusiasm of the outdoor stadium crowds in the USA was something I never saw before nor since.

6 Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

* Lost in the Flood-an epic drama played out from Viet Nam to the Jersey shore and onto Manhattan.  One of my top five songs.

7 Magic

* As you can tell - I think this album is very much... under-rated

8 The River

* If you didn't appreciate the River when it came out and saw it live on the more recent River Tour.  I'm sure you were converted then.

9 Ghost of Tom Joad

10 Devils and Dust 

11 Nebraska

*Nebraska got some of his greatest reviews ever by the critics.  I truly believe if the two above acoustic albums were released then, they too would have received those same accolades. All three are  interchangeable in the rankings.

12 Tunnel Of Love

* Ya gotta have one album of love songs. 

13 Lucky Town

* I had to split this up from Human Touch.

14 Wrecking Ball

* I think this was Bruce's last great album.  Hopefully 2020 will make this statement obsolete. 

15 Working On A Dream

16 Human Touch

17 High Hopes

18 We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions 

Not my cup of tea.  I liked it much better live but it was still the least amount of shows I ever saw for any of his album tours, (3) including a rehearsal show.

____________________________________

The SPL Rocks!

 

Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03



Oats

Last edited by Oats

Thanks, Oats.

While I can wrap my head around Nebraska at 11 in the sense of understanding why people are not as enamored with solo acoustic Bruce, the songs on Nebraska are far better than Devils and Dust and more consistently excellent compared to GOTJ. Also the performance on Nebraska is simply one of those moments when time seems to stand still.

And, I also hope the promised E Street Band album in 2020 is another masterpiece.


 

"I've done my best to live the right way"

Impossible.  And pointless.

For me, Wild and Innocent and The River will always be 1 and 1A - in which order depends on my mood. W&I has, IMO, the single greatest album side in history (side 2),  even better than side 2 of Abbey Road.

 

All the others fall into 2 categories:

1. Couldn't live without them

2. Haven't listened in years and may not ever again.

Life is too short for this stuff!

Scott

LB posted:

Thanks, Oats.

While I can wrap my head around Nebraska at 11 in the sense of understanding why people are not as enamored with solo acoustic Bruce, the songs on Nebraska are far better than Devils and Dust and more consistently excellent compared to GOTJ. Also the performance on Nebraska is simply one of those moments when time seems to stand still.

And, I also hope the promised E Street Band album in 2020 is another masterpiece.

LB,

Well...I can't disagree, cuz like I said for me the three acoustic albums are interchangeable within the ratings.

CC,

The River just resonates much deeper to me.  However Highway Patrolman is one of my top ten.

One of my fondest Bruce memories (one of many) was traveling to Kansas and Nebraska on a road trip with my Blood Brother HeyEddie in 2012.  In Nebraska we got six of the ten tracks including Highway Patrolman.  Plus we had some great beers and ate some great ribs in Kansas. 

____________________________________

The SPL Rocks!

 

Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03



Oats

Last edited by Oats

In the lawsuit Bruce slew Appel, and east of Atlantic Studios he was cast
If you pick anything after '85 I gotta question your silly ass
Now Springsteen worked his whole life writing way too many songs
why couldn't Jon Landau tell him this was wrong
when you're on your 2nd River Tour maybe the original spark is gone
Springsteen smoked a bong Springsteen smoked a bong

lyrics need work.... 

people would jump onstage and grab me by the head and scream, ‘tilly! bootlegs!'"

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