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Bruce Springsteen

The Album Collection Vol.2 1987-1996 Box set (Import)

By • May 31st, 2018 • Category: long players

It starts off with the fantastic ‘Tunnel Of Love’.

An album as stark and melancholic and so, strangely, as invigorating, as its cover. Bruce, smartly suited, car behind him, surrounded by white. He’s quite reflective and also a little soured with self doubt. This is after his first ten years, after the blockbuster that was ‘Born In The USA’.

You get the sense here and also on the following live album that Springsteen is using his music, his creative side, to make some real sense of his life at a time where maybe nothing made much sense at all. Just a man, alone in his own mind, with just his thoughts for company. Maybe that explains the cover.

There are some really welcome rough edges, most notably in the next album in the set, ‘Live 1975-85’, with plenty of audience banter. It makes you feel like you were really there, in the front row and Bruce is perched at the centre front of the stage, looking you right in the eye. The prevailing moods of rumination, black humour and slow burning anger do, if there is fault to be found in this set, tend to make all the songs gel into one. The upside of this is that there are several hooks which draw you back, make you want to listen once more. You’ll finish the whole thing feeling exhausted and maybe a wee bit deflated.

There is some real anger here, both in terms of what Springsteen says between the songs on the live stuff (he gets a little more muted on the Unplugged set) and also, in terms of the playing. There’s real tension in the chords and also in the respective airs of ‘Tunnel Of Love’ and ‘Tom Joad’ – the cornerstones of this whole set, in case you hadn’t guessed.

This is fantastic because it means that you, as the listener, have real, true and direct emotional response to both words and chords. They combine to conjure up very vivid and fantastic memories in your head which last long after the songs have stopped playing. It means that songs stay with you, entwine with you and form part of your emotional fabric.
Broken hearts, strained relationships, the way of the world and the way things should be.

All of these things and more are in the mix here. If you’re anything like this reviewer, music will play a key part in your life. It’ll be on in the background, even in your head when there’s no actual music on and it’ll influence the way you feel throughout the hour, the day and the week, both for better and for worse. Artists like Springsteen are important because they realise this. They make music for us as much as for themselves and they know, quite simply, how to put themselves across.

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