Single-Disc River

Wow, The River has a lot of filler. How much? If you pare away all the generic rockers (e.g. “I’m a Rocker”) and other dross on Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 double album, you have plenty of room left over for “Roulette,” a thundering track about a nuclear accident. (It was recorded during the River sessions but inexplicably didn’t make the cut; you can find it on disc two of Springsteen’s Tracks box set.) Edited down, The River‘s top songs cohere into one of Springsteen’s best albums. The record’s themes come through even more strongly: desire, the responsibilities that come with it, and over and over again, the death that follows it.

I know, by the way, that although I’ve been dividing up these edited albums into side one and side two, you’re not going to be cutting wax copies. I’m thinking about the sequence of these records the same way the artists did before CDs came along: you don’t want to squeeze in much more than 23 minutes on a side, because the sound quality gets wonky, and each side of the record needs to cohere. That means side one should end with some punch (it’s anchored here by the title track) and side two is a new beginning (“Point Blank” is an intense homicidal ballad, but it’s too slow and long to fit anywhere else in the record). All hail the forgotten soldiers of rock ‘n’ roll–side-one closing songs and side-two opening songs!

Side One:
1. Hungry Heart
2. Independence Day
3. Cadillac Ranch
4. Stolen Car
5. The River

Side Two:
6. Point Blank
7. Ramrod
8. Two Hearts
9. Roulette
10. Wreck on the Highway

(total running time: 41:14)

posted 29 August 2008 in Tasty Bits and tagged , . no comments yet

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