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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Having purchased all three Springsteen compilations (original `Greatest Hits', `The Essential...' and later `Greatest Hits`) I have to say that `The Essential Bruce Springsteen' is probably your best bet for your first try of what he has to offer. You get a wide selection of tracks across two CD's that are fairly representative of what his music is like. Any compilation is going to create argument about inclusions and songs left out and I am sad to see `Murder Incorporated' missing for example, but the remaining tracks more than make up for any personal opinions on running order. This album is good because it offers up the obligatory crowd pleasers like 'Born to Run' and 'Born in The U.S.A`. etc, but it also shows some of Bruce's earlier work which is quite folky and less popular, as well as `The Ghost of Tom Joad' (which I love) from the acoustic album of the same name. There is a wide spread of his careers work, as well as the excellent new live tracks from `Live in New York'. The booklet is as good as on all his previous albums and provides all the lyrics and shows how good they actually are. In fact people are often surprised at the depth of his writing if all they are used to is the stadium rockers. This limited edition version has a third disc with rare demo's and outtakes on it and is worth hunting down if you want all his albums or if you want to hear some of his more obscure stuff. There are tracks from various films , as well as live tracks. To be honest some of the songs on the third disc are a bit hit and miss, but `Lift Me Up', `Code of Silence' and the acoustic version of 'Countin' on a Miracle' all stand out and make it worth paying extra for this version. If you are a fan of Bruce then this is a great place to go for a selection of his best tracks in one place and if you are new to his work then this will be the start of one amazing ride!

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on 30 January 2014
This 2CD contains a very good selection of classic tracks from the Boss' back catalogue over the years.
But it should have included " Outlaw Pete" and "Youngstown".
A very good buy for the money, and recommended for those who want to add some classic Springsteen to their music collection.
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on 24 April 2014
This is a fantastic collection of songs to cover elements of different Springsteen albums. I bought this as a taster and it suits the purpose perfectly!
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on 21 July 2015
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on 12 August 2013
I am very pleased ty and I like the product, one of my favourite albums thank you very much re
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on 14 March 2017
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on 27 March 2004
Bruce Springsteen is first class songwriter and performer-- none of those things are in dispute. So I guess an album like this comes down to song selection... 1995s `Greatest Hits' collection was great but did have some glaringly obvious omissions. The collection in question is certainly an improvement-- if only because every album is represented, including the criminally underrated `Ghost of Tom Joad' whose brilliant title track appears here. Having said that, there are still some dissappointing omissions. The most obvious would have to be the selection of `For You' over `It's Hard to Be A Saint In The City'-- Bruce's most dazzling lyrical piece to date and the song that drew many a comparison to the legendary Bob Dylan. I also would like to have seen `Racing In The Streets', `Adam Raised A Cain' and `Youngstown', though these last three might not be missed by many out there. I think `Adam...' showcases the angry mood present on `Darkness' better than any other song on the album...
One other thing I have noticed is the omission of `I'm On Fire' on both this collection and `Greatest Hits'. Surely there is no one out there that would actually choose `Glory Days' or `Dancing In The Dark' over this one? Is this song omitted simply to force people to continue buying `Born In The USA'?
Regardless, one of the strengths of this collection is that it is a `best of' rather than a `hits' package. This means we don't miss out out on masterpieces like `Jungleland' that could never appear on a `Greatest Hits' package. Having said that, the inclusion of some other `masterpieces' such as `Brothers Under the Bridge' might have been good, though might have reduced the commercial appeal.
...and speaking of `Greatest Hits', why not include `Blood Brothers' on this collection?
Anyway, personal preferences aside, this is a much stronger offering than `Greatest Hits' with enough of the lesser known material (from `Greetings...' for example) to satisfy most, but not so much as to dissuade those people that bought only `Born In The USA' and `The River' all those years ago...
Awesome stuff. And some of the bonus tracks aren't bad either (`Trapped' is great and `Lift Me Up' is absolutely stunning).
Essential stuff indeed.
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In my experience, the 'Essential' series of albums always offer great value for money, and a big fat helping of an artist's best work. I own several of these collections, including the Bob Dylan and Ozzy Osbourne entries. 'The Essential Bruce Springsteen' really does live up to it's name, but please do yourself a favour, and be sure to pick up the limited edition three CD version: The Essential - Limited.

Not only do you get the standard two albums with 15 tracks on each, showcasing the best of this legendary singer/songwriter and guitarist's work, in chronological order, you also bag yourself an extra CD, which features 12 rare and previously unreleased studio recordings and live tracks.

Being a double album, Bruce's work is explored in greater depth than a single CD could ever offer, with highlights from his first twelve studio albums, recorded from 1977-2002, with the additional 'Streets of Philadelphia' from the 'Philadelphia' movie soundtrack, and two live performances taken from the filmed 2000 concert 'Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live in New York City'. Us devoted Springsteen fans know that there are some notable omissions, but this is a still a damn good retrospective, featuring all the really famous hits like 'Born To Run', 'Born in the U.S.A', 'Dancing in the Dark', and 'Human Touch', that the casual listeners will be keen to get their hands on.

As I have already mentioned, the third disc of rarities is something that avid fans will want in their collection. Some of the material is hit and miss granted, but to hear the acoustic 'Countin' On A Miracle' and his electric cover of 'Viva Las Vegas', is reason enough for me to be so glad we were given the option of this bonus CD.

To top it all of, there is an illustrated booklet with lyrics to all of the songs of this discs, and a message from the man himself. 'The Essential Bruce Springsteen's boasts excellent sound quality, and is a triple set that will never leave me. This man is one of the greatest solo figures in rock music, just listen to his lyrics, musicianship, and the songs will never let you down, but will stay with you.
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on 7 October 2013
Catalogue number 513700 9. Just to make it clear, this is the 3 CD box set of the compilation from 2003, also known as "3.0" version, even though it does not say so on the front cover of the product I received. Mine is a thick CD box, with 3 red Columbia discs and a nice 43 pages long booklet (full lyrics, musician credits, thanks, introduction by Bruce and some lovely rare photographs). Discs 1 & 2 are a very good retrospective of ALL 12 first Springsteen's albums up to The Rising (2002) and even include 2 tracks from Live in NYC (2001) namely "American Skin (41 shots)" and "Land of hope and dreams" (both live from Madison Sq Gdn). The tracks run in chronological order and (nearly) in the order they originally appeared on their respective albums, which I think makes for a better running order than on The Greatest Hits compilation. As Bruce himself states, you can't please every fan. I think "Growin' up" should have been there, and as the (perfectly named) opener. THE SONGS HAVE BEEN REMASTERED BY BOB LUDWIG, and I can hear the difference, notably some words sung as backing. I just don't know if I like the songs tampered with, in principle. Isn't it supposed to be a collection of the songs we liked when they came out?
The disc of rarities is quite a mix.
There are 3 live tracks with the E Street Band: "held up without a gun" (1980) is very short and quite reminiscent to "you can look but you'd better not touch" (with a strong Van Zandt influence at the chorus), it's fast, loud and fun, "code of silence" (1999) has been co-written with Joe Grushecky (rare thing a song that is not 100% Springsteen), however it is not far removed from "murder incorporated" in its tempo and tone, the guitars are brilliant (both Steven VZ and Nils play on the track) and the sound is really good. The song "trapped" is the Jimmy Cliff classic that Bruce played in 1984 and that was included on the album We Are The World; it's lovely, warm with an amazingly contagious chorus: what a crescendo with an exciting bit of sax at one point and bruce's voice is pitch-perfect.
There are 3 original film soundtracks. I love "missing" from The Crossing Guard (1995) which seems to have been written before the movie was produced. It sounds very modern and quite different from standard Springsteen (guitar or piano lead music), with a mix of black rhythm and percussions and some synthesizers, it's got a dramatic atmosphere with eerie vocal-echoes (the guitar wakes up towards the end): my fav track on disc 3! "dead man walkin'" is an acoustic guitar piece of music, it's quiet and it's more about the meaning of the words, in fact the vocals are very clear, there's no mumbling, it's short and straight to the point with some perceptive lyrics. "lift me up" (from a movie I have never heard of called Limbo) dates from 1999 and is sung in a falsetto voice; at first it's weird, but it grew on me, it's quite surreal and melancholic, like a good Sting song but with this unusual Springsteen singing instead (it's hard to describe!) Springsteen's version of "viva las vegas" was apparently on Honeymoon in Vegas, but it was recorded first for an NME compilation of Elvis covers in 1990. Bruce doesn't try to copy smooth-Elvis, therefore it's not kitsch, but rather rockabilly trying to be trashy, it's not as fun as "cadillac ranch". When I was a teenager, I really liked ZZ Top's version!
Never-before-released material are Springsteen 1979 version of the song he gave to Dave Edmunds, "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)", it's a country but fast-paced tune. It's nearly a pastiche but it's a good recording, full of energy, confidence and pace. Rockabilly "the big payback" is from 1982 recorded after Nebraska, though it's got some of the humour we find on The River album, except that it's bare and echoey, with some good harmonica played freely, another short track. 1983 "none but the brave" starts with some romantic saxophone and it manages to stay soft and touching; there is an unexpected electric guitar solo at some point; I quite like this song and it makes me think of some of the love songs on The Promise double CD set, such as "the little things my baby does", except that the voice is completely different, here it remains gentle and even. "county fair" is described by the boss himself as an acoustic song cut in 1983, shortly after Nebraska. It's got a bucolic mood with crickets and all (!) the vocals are whiny but the story is not down beat, so it's a difficult one to categorize; it would fit well on the album Tunnel of Love sound-wise, except that a title like that makes me think of John Mellencamp!
Finally, there is the audio part of a video section that was played at the end of the concerts in 1999, that is an acoustic version of "countin' on a miracle" played in the lounge of a recording studio and caught on tape by Danny Clinch. Springsteen describes it as country blues. It's sounds a bit like an old traditional song. It's what is known as a demo. It's very different from the commercially released track, in fact it's unrecognisable until Springsteen reverts to his normal singing voice. It's weird but if anything, shows how Springsteen works and comes to a final version after, often, reworking his original ideas over and over again.
I purchased this 3 disc-box set at a very reasonable price and only for the rare tracks. I would have chosen a different track list for the main CDs, but I think it was a good compilation at the time, because all the albums were represented. Bruce Springsteen was born to run, but he wasn't born in 1975 (the greatest hits compilation starts with his 3rd album!) even though he tells us that's when he found himself. Before that, I suppose, he was blinded by the light...
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on 17 January 2005
A great overview of arguably the greatest solo artist in rock's history, The Essential Bruce Springsteen is by far the best and most comprehensive collection of the artist's work. It is does by any means however, offer a thorough overview of his music. For Springsteen, and other artists of a similar quality, at least four disks would be required to completely cover the highlights of an artist whose career now spans over three decades and counting.
The three disk set includes all the obvious choices one would expect, such 'Born in the USA', 'The Streets of Philadelphia', and of course 'Born to Run' which remains his finest song. But it wisely drops some hits from albums that contained a large number of them (eg Born in the USA which managed an amazing seven top 10 hits in the US) and includes some of Springsteen's lesser known gems from other albums, which make the collection a fairer overview of his whole career.
Thankfully, this collection includes tracks from his first two albums, which the first Greatest hits did not. 'Blinded by the Light' and especially 'Rosalita', long a concert favourite, are the two best from this part of the CD.
One of the two live songs, '41 shots', is one of the highlights. My main complaint about the second disk is its inclusion of the 9+ minute 'Land of Hope and Dreams', a good song no doubt, but hardly one of Springsteen's best. The 9 minutes it takes up would surely have been put to better use by including two studio songs.
The third disk, for me at least, is a bit excessive, containing not hits but rarities. If this disk does not interest you either you may be better off buying the cheaper two CD edition.
Since Springsteen's decision last year to support Kerry in the US election, a lot of his fans across the pond have shunned him and his music. But anyone who pays even a bit of attention to his songs and especially the lyrics should have known all along where his political allegiance lay, and what the message of his music was. Writing 'The Streets of Philadelphia', about an aids sufferer, was one sign of his liberal beliefs, as was '41 shots', a protest against the gung ho shooting of an African immigrant by New York police, as were lyrics such as 'Poor men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be kings, and a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything'. It is Bruce Springsteen's tales of the everyday working man that make him such a musical and lyrical force.
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