Greatest Hits

Bruce Springsteen

Columbia Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Greatest Hits. Just the title is enough to make most Bruce Springsteen fans -- not to mention music writers -- groan.

Because, while he has scored some chart hits in a career now in its fourth decade, Bruce Springsteen has never been a singles artist. His albums are, with rare exceptions, carefully themed and sequenced wholes that almost defy dissection. Hits are often flukes for artists like Springsteen; you release singles because you have to, not because it makes any artistic sense in the context of what you're doing.

Of course, there's always the alternate approach utilized by some other non-singles artists, of trying to assemble some sort of "very best of" Springsteen -- but this ain't it. Not without "Jungleland," "Racing In The Streets," "Tougher Than The Rest," and the list goes on.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You can see the dilemma right away in the choices that are made here. "Brilliant Disguise" is surely the best track on Tunnel of Love -- hell, it's one of the best songs he's ever written. But the title track charted higher, and isn't here at all. Huh?

The exclusion of the entire album The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle is equally puzzling, not to mention distressing. No "Rosalita"? Are you serious? Moving down the timeline, no "Darkness On The Edge Of Town"? No "Prove It All Night"? Say whaaaat?

This might be easier to take if this single-disc collection actually stuck to its advertising. But the real crime is that worthy cuts that actually tracked in the charts are tossed overboard in favor of four new songs. I will grant you that the four -- "Secret Garden," "Murder Incorporated," "Blood Brothers" and "This Hard Land" -- are all respectable work and at the time represented the first new Springsteen recordings to feature the E Street Band in eight years. But they do not match up to the quality level established by the rest of the album and don't belong on a disc that aspires to this one's title.

Equally questionable -- given the many charting songs excluded from this package -- is the inclusion of four cuts from Born In The USA. The title track, yes, of course, and "Dancing In The Dark" was the man's biggest hit single ever. But "My Hometown" and "Glory Days" are tough sells occupying space that could have gone to any of the aforementioned glaring omissions from this album.

In its own way, 18 songs on a single disc constitutes an impressive value, and as an introductory purchase for a beginner, this package isn't bad. You do get a bunch of key songs like "Born To Run" and "Badlands," after all, not to mention the first album appearance of "Streets Of Philadelphia," and in the liner notes, Springsteen's entertaining annotations of each of the songs represented here.

But whatever this album actually is, it's not Bruce Springsteen's very best, or even his biggest hits, let alone his Greatest.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


The title track did not chart higher.

Brilliant Disguise #5
Tunnel of Love #9
This is a tricky question in that it depends on which charts you use. The chart positions you quote are for the Billboard Hot 100. Both cuts actually went #1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. In either case, though, I stand corrected -- the title track did not chart higher... it charted roughly equally depending on which source you want to use. Either way, the essential point stands... it made no sense to leave "TOL" off GH.

© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.