What do you buy the Springsteen fan who has everything (other than a brief for his Broadway shows)? Well, this comprehensive collection of his Columbia output from ’87 until ’96 would probably be a good starter particularly as it comes in a numbered limited edition vinyl only package. Ten discs, all remastered, all originals long out of print with one disc (the 1996 ‘Blood Brothers’ EP) appearing on vinyl for the first time. Along with ‘Blood Brothers’ (on 12″ vinyl) there’s another EP, 1988’s ‘Chimes of Freedom’ (again a 12 incher) along with the albums ‘Tunnel of Love’, ‘Human Touch’, ‘Lucky Town’, ‘In Concert/MTV Plugged’ and ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’. In case you’re wondering how this amounts to ten discs, three of these are “expanded across two LPs to maximize audio quality,” according to Colombia.
While even the most fanatic fan should admit that this era was not Springsteen’s best (he’s never going to better that first seven album run which is also available in box set form) and this was the decade where he forsook the E Street band for the most part, there’s plenty here to excite everyone from diehards to more casual listeners although the price tag will probably deter the latter. The price might seem a bit hefty but factor in the packaging which includes a handsome 60 page booklet arranged in scrapbook style with tons of original press articles, reviews and pictures and basically it comes in at around 15 quid a disc which, with the price of vinyl these days, is not too shabby (and it does include a download code so you can safely stash the discs away if that is your wont).
We can’t really comment on the sound of the remastered vinyl discs given that our review copy was a download but a quick scoot around the net doesn’t reveal any complaints. What we can say is that ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ remains an essential listen and that ‘Tunnel of Love’ was an excellent coda to his first avalanche of seminal recordings although it shows up the dual release of ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town’ as somewhat confused and patchy. The MTV live set is probably the weakest link here but the other live recording included, the ‘Chimes of Freedom’ EP, is a magnificent time capsule of Springsteen promoting Amnesty International. His introduction to the title song along with his delivery is powerful and unfortunately remains relevant to this day.
So, a very welcome vinyl reissue of five albums and two EPs dressed up in an attractive package and decently priced for what you get. Certainly cheaper and easier to get a hold of than one of those gold dust tickets for his Broadway shows.