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The River

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Editors’ Notes

Released in 1980, The River arrived at the halfway point between Springsteen's initial burst of critical acclaim and his rise to stadium-filling superstardom. No surprise, then, that the sweeping double album finds Jersey's favorite son striking a near-perfect balance among his various personas: rambunctious rocker, clear-eyed folkie, and catchy pop singer. "Hungry Heart," his first Top 10 hit, has an appealing '60s-style pop sound that was among the lightest fare the Boss had delivered to date (although the lyrics show more resignation than hope). Yet The River also includes some of Springsteen's most touching and vivid ballads: "Independence Day," "Stolen Car," "Drive All Night," and "Wreck on the Highway" among them. Best of all is the title track, a quintessential Springsteen reflection that traces a relationship from its youthful carefree days to the grind of sobering familial responsibilities. Though peppered with irresistibly lighthearted ditties, the album shines brightest when the Boss sticks with his proven subject - real people with real problems.

Customer Reviews

Unrated? The river?

How this album hadn't recieve enough attention here on iTunes is beyond me, but let me tell you that downloading THE RIVER and POINT BLANK will be one of the best musical choices you'll ever make. Springsteen at his best - raw, melodic, heartbreaking. Those two songs are wonderful by themselves, although I think that the album stands as a whole. This one's for a romantic roadtrip!

The National Breakout by a Great Regional Cult Artist

People had heard "Born To Run" - at least the single. Springsteen's greatest success had, by 1980, been achieved by others doing his songs (Blinded By The Light, Fire, Because The Night). In 1979-1980, the Boss needed to be heard by the masses and this double disc did the job. The songwriting, except on "Point Blank", is more crisp and succinct, completing a streamlining process begun on BTR. "Sherry Darling", "Out In The Street", "Two Hearts", "Hungry Heart", "Jackson Cage", "Look, But You Better Not Touch", "Cadillac Ranch", "Crush On You", "Ramrod" served up a cast of fun rockers while "Independence Day", "The River", "Drive All Night", "Stolen Car" and "Point Blank" gave a beautiful counterpoint. "The River" is an especially beautiful song that, along with "Stolen Car", point to the next step in Springsteen's progression - The Nebraska Sessions. The other quality that makes The River a great album was the quality of the production and the superb musicianship of the E Street Band. The band is tight and controlled - the closest it would sound to its 1970-1987 live sound. The drums snap and crackle, the guitars jangle, and the piano and keyboards are like watercolor backgrounds. This was the album that really spotlighted Roy Bittan. Bob Clearmountain and Neils Dorfmann deserve real credit for mixing and engineering a great moment in rock history. Buy this album and understand what it is to be a Bossfan!

It Isn't Born to Run

But it certainly is his second best album, and definitely worth five stars. What Born to Run had in upbeat rock mantras such as "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road", The River has in solemn, almost reflective songs. These are songs that don't often get a lot of playtime, but are arguably his best. The eponymous song is, in my opinion, his greatest, and "Sherry Darling" and "Point Blank" are also definitely worth a download.


Born: September 23, 1949 in Freehold, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity among popular musicians, an artist who maintained his status as a frontline recording and performing star, consistently selling millions of albums and selling out arenas and stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread critical approbation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discs and shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way in Springsteen's...
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