When I first became aware of this book, I have to confess part of me expected it to be one of those unauthorised efforts you see in The Works a few months after publication at a fraction of the cover price, full of photographs you’ve seen a hundred times before and text lazily cut and pasted from old interviews and articles. I hold my hands up – I couldn’t have been more wrong! This is a first class read, rounding up all The Boss’s studio work from 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park,NJ through to 2014’s High Hopes. It comes in a large format (roughly A4 size) on top quality paper, and has been authored by Brian Hiatt, a senior writer for Rolling Stone, and a man who has interviewed Springsteen on a number of occasions for that publication. He also spoke extensively with members of the E Street Band, along with other musicians and producers who have worked with Springsteen over the years. He goes through each album, song by song, and also adds to each set songs from the album sessions that didn’t make the final cut, but which were later released on outtakes sets such as Tracks and The Promise, or as B sides. It’s a very thoroughly researched piece of work, which gives much interesting background information, along with insights into the composition of the songs and the recording process itself. He certainly turns up a lot of detail I wasn’t previously aware of, giving at the same time a thorough and robust critical appraisal of the songs and placing them in the overall context of Springsteen’s canon. The whole book is very well written and meticulously researched, and is heartily recommended for Bruce fans..
Length of Read:Long
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Probably not for someone with just a passing interest in Springsteen’s extensive back catalogue, but if you’re a fan you’ll find there’s lots to like here in this very comprehensive tome. A most enjoyable way to pass a few hours – or one you can just dip in and out of as and when the mood takes you.
One thing you’ve learned
For me, the best three records are
Darkness (supplement it with The Promise set for added enjoyment)
The Wild, The Innocent…. (add in material from this era from the Tracks set such as The Fever, Thundercrack and Zero and Blind Terry to make it even better.)
Those wanting to dip their toes into live material could do worse than try the newly released digital compilation Songs of Friendship, a career spanning fifteen track set cherry picked from the live shows released via Springsteen’s website in recent years.