Release Date: Dec 4, 2015
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Rock & Roll, Heartland Rock
Bruce Springsteen's ambition is his blessing and his curse. He's always believed that rock & roll is a music that can express people's deepest hopes and dreams and change their lives, and his best work communicates that brilliantly. But Springsteen often seems to doubt his own abilities and struggles under the weight of his own (high) standards, and many of Springsteen's best albums were painstakingly created as he spent months in the studio, searching for the right set of songs and performances that would tell the larger story in his mind.
The Boss inspires no casual attitudes toward his music; you either can't stand him, or you have a voracious obsession for everything he's ever done. The box set treatments for Springsteen's greatest triumphs — Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town — have so far been absolutely amazing for die-hard fans, painting pictures that reveal one of history's greatest songwriters as a maddeningly prolific mad scientist type.The outtakes alone from these collections could have been released haphazardly and, in more cases than not, would have been near-classics anyway. The Ties That Bind: The River Collection shows a Springsteen that, after two bona fide masterworks, is somehow speeding up instead of slowing down.First, the original.
It’s November 5, 1980, the day after Ronald Reagan is elected president. “I don’t know what you guys think about what happened last night,” Springsteen says onstage in Tempe, Arizona, “but I think it’s pretty frightening.” He dedicates the next song to his young audience, then launches the E Street Band into a passionate “Badlands”—and even if that song is from 1978, and even if the new songs from The River were released a month prior, it still seems like Springsteen has written and performed these songs in order to prepare his characters, and his audience, for the mean nation waiting in the future. They would need each other, and he would need them.
The River doesn’t flow—it floods. Bruce Springsteen’s fifth album gushes forth with the fury of a burst dam, delivering torrents of despair, inspiration, heartbreak, and joy. Coming after the deliberate twin masterpieces of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, records epic in scope but precise in execution, The River not only appears to be a mess but embodies the classic definition of a double album: it seems to be a clearinghouse for every song Bruce Springsteen had at the ready in 1980.
When Bruce Springsteen released The Promise back in 2010, it was a document of what could have been. Although most of the album’s songs were recorded during the same sessions that birthed Darkness On the Edge of Town, they contrasted wildly in tone — where Darkness was steeped in working class angst, The Promise had a more romantic outlook. Its arrangements were lusher and its characters found easier escape from their blue-collar confinements, their gazes turned upward to the stars instead of towards the factories pumping out smog below.
Bruce Springsteen sang about growing up on his first album, when he was 23, with the glee of a lost boy amazed to find anyone was listening. As he approached 30, though, his idea of adult life was different – something you couldn't necessarily run from, no matter how many songs about escaping down the highway you had. The River is where Springsteen grew his sound up.
After Darkness On The Edge Of Town saw Bruce Springsteen deliver the edgiest and heaviest material of his career it became apparent to him that an album that reflected the more multi-faceted nature of his live show was necessary – a record on which the type of dust-ups with which he usually opened gigs would sit alongside more introspective, balmy moments. He delivered it with The River, a 20-song double LP that delivered his first hit, Hungry Heart, alongside future favourties like the title track and Out On The Street. As was his way back then, he recorded a huge amount of surplus material for the album.
The River, in 1980, was Springsteen’s attempt to recreate his live show – a double album on which rave-ups sat alongside introspective ballads and state-of-the-nation addresses. As with the previous album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, he recorded far too much material, and that’s the draw of this set. The River itself feels a bit unwieldy compared to the sleek single album Springsteen originally handed in to Columbia, which features here, and while less weighty – philosophically and in size – it is actually a better listen, not least because it’s not constantly dragged down by unwieldy rockers.
Whenever the Boss releases an expanded version of one of his classic records, it's like he's nonchalantly unveiling an alternate universe that sends a freakish psychological ripple through his loyal fan base. Everything we think we know and understand about this seemingly accessible Everyman is jettisoned, and his choices and moods make him seem even more enigmatic. In this case, his 1980 breakthrough 20-song album, The River, is augmented by 32 extra-rare or unreleased songs, and DVDs featuring a classic, near-three-hour River show in Tempe, Arizona, and a thoughtful new documentary in which Springsteen contextualizes this prolific era and plays compelling solo versions of a number of songs.
A double album of hellos and goodbyes, 1980's The River juxtaposes cocky romance with grim meditations on death. Bruce Springsteen's fifth release proved a cardinal development in his storytelling, and The Ties That Bind: The River Collection dissects it across four CDs, a 2-DVD concert from the same year in Arizona, and an hourlong documentary on a third DVD, plus over 200 coffee-table-ready photos. The rollicking, 160-minute set from Tempe preserves the unbelievable youthfulness of the bandleader and his henchmen Clarence Clemons, Steven Van Zandt, and the rest of the E Street Band.
"The Ties That Bind: The River Collection," chronicles the making of Bruce Springsteen's 1980 double album. Bruce Springsteen's 1980 release, "The River," was a double album twice as long as anything he'd released previously, and the recording sessions leading up to it were just as epic. "The Ties That Bind: The River Collection" (Columbia), a four-CD, three-DVD boxed set, ties together loose ends from those sessions, in which Springsteen went on a massive songwriting binge.
Box set based on the classic double album. In 1979, the year he turned 30, Bruce Springsteen made two very smart decisions. The first was to keep hold of a song he’d intended to give to the Ramones to record, just as he’d given away an earlier song, Because The Night, to Patti Smith. The second decision was to shelve the album he had recorded as the follow-up to 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town because, as he later explained, “It wasn’t big enough.” .