Friday, November 22, 2013

Bruce Springsteen 12: Greatest Hits

Meanwhile, Bruce tried to stay busy in the ‘90s. The two new albums released the same day weren’t as successful as the tour supporting them, as fans flocked to see their hero running around a stage with people that pointedly were not the E Street Band. An MTV Unplugged appearance was pointedly electric, and an album released outside America was a pricey import. But Bruce did manage to recapture some respect with a song written for the highly popular film Philadelphia; “Streets Of Philadelphia” wasn’t as dramatic as the song Neil Young wrote for the same movie, but it caught on enough to garner an Oscar, and eventually a few Grammies. It was also a key selling point for his first-ever Greatest Hits album.
The title ticked a lot of fans off, since not all the songs were hits, not all the hits were on it, and there was nothing from his first two albums (likely because that would have put money in the pocket of his former manager and producer). Chances are they had the four songs from Born In The U.S.A. a couple of times already, too.
But for people whose CD racks consist solely of hits collections, soundtracks and such, Bruce’s Greatest Hits did cover enough of those bases. If you like one of the songs, you like them all.
Most attention was paid to the four brand new songs at the end, all recorded with—ta-da!—the E Street Band. First, there was “Secret Garden”, destined to replace “Every Breath You Take” as the most misunderstood song choice for wedding receptions, helped along by Jerry Maguire. Its understated keyboards had already become a Boss trademark, and his intimate vocal belies something of a bizarre “Candy’s Room”. “Murder Incorporated” wasn’t exactly new; this angry track was left over from the Born In The U.S.A. sessions, dusted off and sounding great. “Blood Brothers” is back to quiet, with lyrics that seem to refer to the band, but probably don’t. It soon picks up a galloping beat not unlike Dire Straits, and that’s meant as a compliment. Finally, “This Hard Land” was another early-’80s leftover, but newly recorded.
Songs as strong as these only made people wish Bruce and the boys could record and release a full album. But that wouldn’t happen for a while. In the meantime, Greatest Hits ensured big-box record retailers outside the 201 area code that they could still have a Springsteen slot in their racks with decent turnover.

Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits (1995)—4

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