For the first time ever on our site, here’s BORN TO RUN available in Hot Stamper form with a very good side one and a side two that’s as good as we ever expect to hear! It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out why we’ve never put up a Hot copy before: most copies of this album sounds just plain awful, a fact that will not surprise any of you who have tried to find a good one.
I wish I could tell you that this record sounded as good as After The Gold Rush or Sgt. Pepper’s, but it just ain’t so. Mindblowing sound is simply not in the cards for this album, I’m sorry to report. The Boss and his crew are known for their great songs, not the sound of their recordings. There are better copies and worse copies of course, but none of them are going to become the kind of record you’d demo your stereo with.
That said, if you’re a fan of this album, I’m betting you’ve never heard it sound this good. We played a ton of copies — White Label Promos, originals, later pressings — and didn’t hear very many that were in the ballpark with this one, particularly on side two.
Side one is super transparent with a punchy bottom end. Springsteen’s vocals sounds JUST RIGHT — textured and breathy with real immediacy. Like nearly every copy we’ve ever heard, the top end isn’t quite what we’d like it to be. Still, the sound was enjoyable enough to earn a grade between A+ and A++.
Side two was much better. In fact, we don’t think you could find one that sounds any better! Compared to the average copy there’s less grit, less edge and more energy. The bottom end is strong and the brass actually sounds good. We gave this side our top grade of A+++ because it did exactly what we needed it to do for this music — it just plain ROCKED.
As I’ve said, the typical pressing is an absolute sonic nightmare. Gritty, grainy, edgy and dull, with recessed vocals and a lightweight bottom end. I was not blown away by even the best copies, but at least I could appreciate the music. I’m pretty sure that’s all we can ask for when it comes to The Boss on vinyl.
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Born to Run
She’s the One
Meeting Across the River
Layers of guitar, layers of echo on the vocals, lots of keyboards, thunderous drums — Born to Run had a big sound, and Springsteen wrote big songs to match it. Bruce Springsteen’s make-or-break third album represented a sonic leap from his first two, which had been made for modest sums at a suburban studio; Born to Run was cut on a superstar budget, mostly at the Record Plant in New York. Springsteen’s backup band had changed, with his two virtuoso players, keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Vini Lopez, replaced by the professional but less flashy Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg.
The result was a full, highly produced sound that contained elements of Phil Spector’s melodramatic work of the 1960s. If The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle was an accidental miracle, Born to Run was an intentional masterpiece. It declared its own greatness with songs and a sound that lived up to Springsteen’s promise, and though some thought it took itself too seriously, many found that exalting.