Top Artists – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen – Bernie Grundman’s Standard Operating Procedure Strikes Again

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Bruce Springsteen

If you own the Classic Records reissue from the early 2000s, hearing a Hot Stamper pressing is sure to be a revelation.

The Classic pressing was dead as a doornail. It was more thick, it was more opaque, and it was more compressed than most of the originals we played, originals which we noted had problems in all three areas to start with.

Bernie did the album no favors, that I can tell you.

Head to head in a shootout, our Hot Stampers will be dramatically more solid, punchy, transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short.

Here are a few commentaries you may care to read about Bernie Grundman‘s work as a mastering engineer, good and bad.

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Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love

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  • On the better pressings you get something approaching the warmth and unforced clarity of analog we audiophiles crave
  • Some of Bruce’s best material is here: the title track and One Step Up are two of our favorites  
  • “Bruce Springsteen followed the most popular album of his career, Born in the U.S.A., with [a] low-key, anguished effort, Tunnel of Love.”

As is the case for the Bob Clearmountain mix of Born in the USA, the sound is not exactly vintage analog at its best, but at least on vinyl you get more analog qualities than would otherwise be possible. This is 1987, not 1967 and not even 1977. That said, the copies that earned the better grades were big and rich, with plenty of studio space and nicely present vocals.

Mostly what they do well is that they fill out the sound and take the edge off of it without losing musical information, dynamics or energy. Not many copies managed that feat but this one did. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The River

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More 5 Star Albums

  • This STUNNING pressing of Springsteen’s surprisingly well-recorded 1980 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides three and four, mated with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound or very close to it on sides one and two
  • These sides are energetic, clear and full-bodied, with The Boss’ vocals – always the focus for any Springsteen album – front and center where they belong
  • This is our pick for the Best Sounding Springsteen album – we know of none more better
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard or you get your money back – it’s a simple as that
  • 5 stars: “Springsteen rises to his own challenges as a songwriter, penning a set of tunes that are heartfelt and literate but unpretentious while rocking hard, and the E Street Band were never used to better advantage, capturing the taut, swaggering force of their live shows in the studio with superb accuracy… [he] rarely made an album as compelling as this, or one that rewards repeat listening as well.”
  • If you’re a Springsteen fan, this title from 1980 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1980 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A.

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this gazillion-selling ’80s classic
  • We would be foolish to make claims for “audiophile” sound on Springsteen’s albums – they are what they are, but the best copies are head and shoulders above anything else you’ve heard
  • Some of The Boss’s biggest hits are here, including “Glory Days” and “Dancin’ in the Dark.”
  • 5 stars: “… where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him.”

It’s tough to find great sounding copies of this album — or any Springsteen album for that matter — but this one is a step up from most of the copies we played, with less distortion and more energy, two qualities that are not easy to come by on Born In The U.S.A.

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Bruce Springsteen / Born In The U.S.A. – We Make No Claims of Audiophile Quality Sound

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We would be foolish to make claims for “audiophile quality” sound on Springsteen’s albums — they are what they are. The simple claim we make for our Hot Stampers is that the best of them sound as good as the album can sound, and we back that up with a 100% Money Back guarantee.

It’s tough to find great sounding copies of this album — or any Springsteen album for that matter — but this one is a HUGE step up, with the kind of clarity and fullness that most copies have in short supply.

If you’re bored by the first chorus of the title song, that’s a bad sign, and that was exactly our experience with most of the pressings that hit the table. When we threw this one on, things changed considerably. Bruce was really screaming, the drums were really pounding, and before we knew it we were really rockin’ out and enjoying the music.

Not many copies have this kind of full, solid lower midrange. When you hear the album this way, without the edgy, thin sound that plagues most pressings, it really works wonders for the music. The vocals and instruments are more real, and the improved low end lets the whole thing rock.

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Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on The Edge Of Town

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  • With stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides — just shy of our Shootout Winner — this original pressing has the right sound for Darkness… as well as a healthy dose of analog magic in its grooves
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the size and energy of this classic from 1978, this is the only way to go
  • The piano is solid and weighty, and there’s a fair amount of Tubey Magic considering the troubled history of the project
  • “In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Dave Marsh viewed Darkness on the Edge of Town as a landmark record in rock and roll because of the clarity of its production, Springsteen’s unique guitar playing, and the programming, which he said connected the characters and themes in a subtle yet cohesive manner. Marsh remarked that the subject matter of the songs fulfilled the hype that previously surrounded Springsteen…”
  • If you’re a Springsteen fan, his 1978 follow-up to Born to Run is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1978 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but copies like this prove that this is a MUCH better recording than we ever gave it credit for. It’s a rare pressing that can bring this passionate, emotionally charged music to life, but the open, spacious soundstage and full-bodied tonality here are up to the challenge. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

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  • This outstanding early pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, and plays about as quietly as these Columbia pressings from 1973 ever do
  • These sides are energetic, clear and full-bodied, with present and breathy vocals
  • A lack of presence and a lack of resolution are of course the hallmarks of the Modern Heavy Vinyl Remaster, just two of the reasons we cannot abide them
  • 5 stars: “An astonishing advance even from the remarkable promise of Greetings; the unbanded three-song second side in particular was a flawless piece of music. Musically and lyrically, Springsteen had brought an unruly muse under control and used it to make a mature statement… He would later make different albums, but he never made a better one. The truth is, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll.”
  • If you’re a fan of The Boss (before he became The Boss), this is a classic from 1973 that belongs in your collection.

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but the better copies prove that this is a perfectly fine recording for what it is. Full and solid, the best pressings have the kind of energy and power to really communicate the passion and excitement of the music. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

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  • A KILLER pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • The title track here really sounds the way you want to hear it – BIG and BOLD
  • A 5 Star album in the AMG, and the Boss’ first masterpiece – who can argue with the power of this music?
  • “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.” (Did he ever!)

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Bruce Springsteen / Born In The U.S.A. – What to Listen For

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Not many copies have this kind of full, solid lower midrange. When you hear the album this way, without the edgy, thin sound that plagues most pressings, it really works wonders for the music. The vocals and instruments are more real, and the improved low end lets the whole thing rock.

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality ’80s Rock record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sophisticated recording.

Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska

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  • With two Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, – just shy of our Shootout Winner – we guarantee you’ve never heard Nebraska sound as good as it does here – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • There’s more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others we’ve played, but please take the time to read about the recording of the album so you know what to expect from the sound
  • 5 stars: “[A] recording artist’s demos of new songs often come off better than the more polished versions later worked up in a studio. But Bruce Springsteen was the first person to act on that theory, when he opted to release the demo versions of his latest songs, recorded with only acoustic or electric guitar, harmonica, and vocals, as his sixth album, Nebraska”

This famously compromised recording certainly has its limitations, but here is a copy that shows what Bruce recorded on four-track cassette tape in the best possible light. (more…)