This review will be unlike any other on this website so far. It is a review of a re-release of an album. This is why all purely musical analysis and criticism go out the window. This album is not only going to be judged on the quality of the songs but also on the quality of the “extras” which have been added to convince you to buy this album all over again.
Late last year it was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen’s first mega-hit, Born to Run. To mark this date, Colombia decided to re-release this album as a limited edition box set. Not only did Colombia remaster the CD, they offered three significant additions to the standard package. A live DVD from London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 of Bruce and the E-Street Band and a making of documentary have been added to the mix. In addition to this, a 48 page booklet has been included. Colombia have wanted to create the definitive version of this album.
The real question is, have they succeeded? Well I can safely give Colombia a pat on the back. The extras are amazing. The concert footage is truly special, witnessing the Born to Run songs live on video is very powerful and adds context to the original songs. There are the mega-obsessive fans who will be upset at the quality of the footage which can be at times a little too dark and grainy. I for one, can see past this and concentrate on the amazing performance on the screen. This DVD proves for once and for all that Bruce Springsteen is among rock’s elite performers. This concert has recently been released as a two disc audio CD.
The second DVD presents a making-of the album documentary. While these are often boring as hell, in this instance, the label are correct in including the footage which includes contributions from all the key players in the making of the album. The accompanying booklet is also crammed with photos from the time. All the extras presented have been well-thought through. In no way is this cheap filler intended to get the gullible fan to buy the album again.
And what about the music, I hear you say. The album has lost none of its power in thirty years. At the time it seemed like the Boss’ career had been building up to this album. He unleashed this LP with confidence and panache. The strength of his songs are unquestionable, the characters that Bruce has confidently created within his songs on this album allow the songs to continue to resonate today. Musically, the backing is as confident as the lyrics. Beautiful piano, rocking saxophones, soaring guitar chords unite to create a sound which although ever so slightly dated, never feels anachronistic.
The standout tracks include the albums namesake, possibly one of the most addictive and smile inducing songs ever. This is the kind of song that makes people sing to themselves under their breath when played on the bar’s jukebox. The kind of infectious song that will stick in one’s head long after it has been played. The album is one continuous highlight but other personal favourites include ‘Thunder Road’, ‘Meeting Cross the River’ and ‘Jungleland’.
Overall, Bruce Springsteen and Colombia have created a new standard. All new re-releases should be judged against this package. As well as improving the original sound, the added extras create a whole new reason to repurchase the album. With the ninety minute documentary, the two hour concert footage, there is plenty for the new and old fan to digest. The quality of the concert performance is enough for any fan to want to purchase this boxset. Overall, this edition is good enough for even the most fanatic and an amazing way for those who don’t know this album to be introduced to it. This is a fine purchase that will not disappoint and is highly recommended for yourself or as a gift.