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3.9 out of 5 stars
The River (2CD)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2003
I really don't think I have enough good words for "The River" and I know that a maximum of 1,000 words cannot possible be enough for the epic I could write about this album! What I will say is that this is probably the only album in my CD collection that just gives me an instant good feeling when I listen to it. Even if the song is beautifully depressing like Bruce does wonderfully, it still feels me with sheer delight. In my opinion, this IS what an album should be--two discs of pure mastery. "The River" is so perfect that I couldn't rate the songs if I wanted to--every single one would get 5 stars. My favorite, though, would have to be "Stolen Car" (if I HAD to choose). It is just so painstakingly brilliant, solemn, and it exemplifies the quiet desperation that I love from Bruce...gorgeous in one word. I love everything I can get my hands on from Bruce Springsteen, but "The River" just flows through my veins. How about that corny plug, eh?
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These songs are no less than majestic, lyrically and melodically. The singing and playing are equally impressive and convey the various moods of the album so well. The ecstasy, the joy and the sadness of life are captured here with an honesty very rarely matched in the annals of rock. The Ties That Bind, Sherry Darling and Hungry Heart are passionate rockers, while Independence Day is a mournful ballad full of reminiscences and regret. Point Black is a slow ballad, whilst Cadillac Ranch and I'm A Rocker are blistering slabs of energetic rock. Fade Away is a slow and anguished rock ballad with beautiful piano work and a stirring arrangement, while the sad and fragile Stolen Car almost sounds like something from Nebraska. Traditional rock 'n roll rears its pulsating head on Ramrod, while the next three songs all have cars and driving as their theme: The Price You Pay is sombre and melancholic, Drive All Night is sad and soulful, and this masterpiece of an album concludes with the sorrowful Wreck On The Highway, one of Springsteen's most moving songs. In its dignified resignation, acceptance and the renewed appreciation for loved ones that it inspires, it reminds me of Lou Reed's The Bed or Song For My Father by The Angels Of Light. This album is so great, it's almost too much to digest in one uninterrupted session.
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These songs are no less than majestic, lyrically and melodically. The singing and playing are equally impressive and convey the various moods of the album so well. The ecstasy, the joy and the sadness of life are captured here with an honesty very rarely matched in the history of rock.

The Ties That Bind, Sherry Darling and Hungry Heart are passionate rockers, while Independence Day is a mournful ballad full of memories and regret. Point Black is a slow ballad, whilst Cadillac Ranch and I'm A Rocker are blistering slabs of energetic rock. Fade Away is a slow and anguished ballad with beautiful piano work and a stirring arrangement, while the sad and fragile Stolen Car almost sounds like something from Nebraska.

Traditional rock 'n roll rears its pulsating head on Ramrod, while the next three songs all have cars and driving as their theme: The Price You Pay is sombre and melancholic, Drive All Night sad and soulful, and this masterpiece of an album concludes with the sorrowful Wreck On The Highway, one of Springsteen's most moving songs. In its dignified resignation, acceptance and the renewed appreciation for loved ones that it inspires it reminds me of Lou Reed's The Bed or Song For My Father by The Angels Of Light.

The River is such a great album that it's almost too much to digest all these wonderful songs in one uninterrupted listening session.
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on April 5, 2004
Bruce Springsteen was driven to superstardom in 1975 with BORN TO RUN which followed two little-acknowledged albums. In 1978 came DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN,and two years later came this album,Bruce Springsteen's first megahit. This a two CD set like the 2 LP set. Every song was composed,both words and music,by Springsteen. Hits from this album are HUNGRY HEART,the title track,FADE AWAY,THE TIES THAT BIND and RAMROD. I heard OUT IN THE STREET on the radio also. Only the title track and HUNGRY HEART have been recycled for 1995's GREATEST HITS. Springsteen mentions actor Burt Reynolds,in a Trans Am,on CADILLAC RANCH. Another car song is RAMROD. Another song involving cars is WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY. And DRIVE ALL NIGHT is another. And THE PRICE YOU PAY is another. SHERRY DARLING involves cars also("Your mama's yappin' in the back seat"). And so does STOLEN CAR of course! Man,this album is full of car songs just like the songs recorded by the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean in the sixties. A major nationwide tour followed the release of this album. Springsteen also performed at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford,NJ just after it opened in early 1981.
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on May 5, 2004
It makes sense that this was the first really successful Springsteen record ("Hungry Heart" is famously his first top ten hit) - the blazing anthems are especially energizing, the slow numbers are tender and deeply human. That makes for an amazing slew of songs, most of them outstanding, but a less thematic, cohesive outing than Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Compare the difference - say, the peppy summer anthem "Sherry Darling" and the sprawling balladry of "Drive All Night" - you have two brilliant songs that don't seem to belong on an album together. In which case, it means that it happens to be only as good as a great rock record should be, as opposed to his masterpieces which fly past any of those standards.
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on October 28, 2005
i cannot believe the bad reviews this album has had! i love it.
i first heard it back in the '70s & was in love with "drive all night" & "point blank" being strong, atmospheric tracks, with beautiful lyrics, really heartfelt.
also "ram rod" is a great "rock & roll" song, with a great big sound.
"the river" is gut-wrenching for it's honesty,
"independence day" also sounds like a confession, & one close to the knuckle!
it is an ambitious piece of work, & maybe contains a track or two too many, but overall the work contained herein i think defines the artist as a true legend!
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on March 1, 2009
I loved this album when it came out and it does have a lot of great songs. "Two Hearts", "Drive All Night" and "Stolen Car" (though I prefer the Tracks version) are just three. However it is not among Springsteen's best with clunkers like "Crush on You", "I Wanna Marry You", and worst of all "You Can Look". However when Bruce avoids disolving into cliches he is one of the best songwriter there is. It's too bad he didn't replace some of the weak songs on here with better songs that ended up on Tracks like "Loose Ends" and "Where the Bands Are". They would have fit seemlessly into this album. However the great songs still sound great after all these years.
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on June 20, 2011
This collection of songs marks a return to when Rock n Roll was more fun. It is balanced by songs that probe into the sadder side of relationships that fail to bring fulfillment. It has songs with a lot of energy. Great listening, with music from a band at it's peak. Clarence Clemons will be missed.

When is Columbia going to come out with the remastered edition? I was listening to the RM Born To Run before I put this on. Most of the albums from Springsteen are long overdue to be remastered.
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on March 18, 2014
hadn't heard it in 10 years or so except for the ones that made it to other records. Awesome work from Bruce at the height of his creativity.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2004
In the 70's Bruce released 3 masterpieces, all completely different from one another. The Wild The Innocent, Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town. 3 practically flawless, mature paintings - everything you could want in an album. I was convinced Bruce could do no wrong. And then this thing came out. There are quite a few good songs on The River, maybe even a couple great ones. But what makes this album a real clunker is the sheer number of half-baked, mind-numbing, happy-crappy pop songs. The man who gave us Incident On 57th St, Thunder Road and Darkness on The Edge of Town now presents us with Crush On You, I Wanna Marry You, I'm A Rocker, Ramrod, and a few others which I thankfully can't remember now. This stuff is bad for you. bad. bad. Listen to Blood On The Tracks twice and call me in the morning.
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