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A very different "First Friday archival release" - BEST OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's official announcement

Updated: Mar 4



March 2, 2024


Yesterday, the first Friday of March 2024 didn't yield a new archival live release from Live.BruceSpringsteen.net, but we still got a "release" of sorts: a press-release, that is, officially announcing that a new compilation of previously released Springsteen recordings, entitled Best of Bruce Springsteen, will drop on April 19. Well, at least technically you could call this a type of "archival release," and Nugs/Columbia's Erik Flannigan has written its liner-notes/essay, as he's done on the Live.BruceSpringsteen.net archival releases for quite some time now, so there's that...


The track-list of Best of Bruce Springsteen will depend upon its configuration. The double-vinyl-LP/single-CD configuration (with a red-colored-vinyl option exclusive to Amazon) will consist of eighteen tracks: the original, officially released studio recordings of "Growin’ Up," "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," "Born To Run," "Thunder Road," "Badlands," "Hungry Heart," "Atlantic City," "Dancing in the Dark," "Born in the U.S.A.," "Brilliant Disguise," "Human Touch," "Streets of Philadelphia," "The Ghost of Tom Joad," "Secret Garden," "The Rising," "Girls In Their Summer Clothes," "Hello Sunshine," and "Letter To You." As seen above, the album's cover-photo is one of Eric Meola's beautiful outtakes from the Born To Run cover-photo sessions.


The "Digital Deluxe" configuration includes the same eighteen tracks featured on the double-vinyl-LP/single-CD configuration, along with an additional thirteen tracks: the original, officially released studio recordings of "Spirit In The Night," "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Prove It All Night," "The River," "Glory Days," "Tougher Than The Rest," "If I Should Fall Behind," "Living Proof," "Long Time Comin’," "The Wrestler," "We Take Care Of Our Own," and "Ghosts."


The official announcement does not state or indicate that any of these reissued tracks has been remixed or remastered in any way, but it's reasonable to presume that all of the reissued tracks will be presented in their most recently mastered or remastered forms, depending upon the case with each individual track. The tracks are sequenced on Best of... following the basic chronological order of the release of the albums on which they originally appeared, with one exception: "The Ghost of Tom Joad" is sequenced on Best of... before "Secret Garden," even though "Secret Garden" was released before "The Ghost of Tom Joad." While tracks that originally appeared on the same album appear together in Best of...'s sequence, they often are sequenced differently than they were on the original album. For example, "Thunder Road," which was the opening track on the Born To Run album, follows "Born To Run" in the Best of... sequence. (Previous Springsteen greatest-hits/best-of-style retrospective compilations also have featured similarly tweaked sequencing.)


Online reactions to this announcement from many longtime fans has ranged very much from neutral and not exactly thrilled to downright negative, disappointed with Best of... not so much for what it is than what it isn't: new/previously-unreleased Springsteen music. But our buddy Jay Lustig at NJArts.net seems to have the right idea here. Jay wrote a good piece on his website focusing on the positive, potential value of Best of..., correctly identifying it as "possibly a useful anthology for future, maybe not-yet-born Springsteen fans." On Facebook, Jay dug even deeper, writing that Best of... is "not intended for me. And it's probably not really intended for you, either. It's intended for people who are just discovering The Boss now, or will do so, in the future. When I think back to being a teenager, in the '70s, greatest hits albums -- by Bob Dylan, The Beatles (the red and blue anthologies), The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel and others -- were ESSENTIAL to me, for exploring what was then rock's recent past. This is for teenagers, now, and future teenagers who hear 'Born to Run' somewhere and want to find out more."


To the extent that Jay's correct, and that Best of... will help to connect new/future generations of listeners to the music of Bruce Springsteen, then that's most definitely something worthwhile and worth celebrating. That noted, however, I also feel it necessary to add just my own personal two cents that, whatever the considerations and/or configurations, if one decides to release something called Best of Bruce Springsteen, and yet "Land of Hope and Dreams" is among the tracks left off it (unavailable in any form on any version of this release,) that's just downright sacrilegious, folks. No excuses; period.


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