The Cheese 10-Tracks The Rest Of Springsteen

Like when U2 was Ten-Tracked, we’re going to do a bunch of Springsteen albums at once.  These are mostly albums that haven’t changed too much and have just been tweaked around the edges.

‘Born To Run’ hasn’t been 10-Tracked because it’s everything an album should be….8 tracks, around 40 minutes.  Perfect.

Likewise, ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ’, ‘The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle’ and ‘Nebraska’ don’t need 10-Tracking because their running time is perfect.  Though it would have been nice to put ‘The Fever’ on ‘The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.’

Darkness On The Edge Of Town

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Not a huge change here because it’s one of Springsteen’s very best albums.  But I love ‘The Promise’ and it would have been a perfect fit for the album.  It replaces ‘Streets Of Fire’ here which is the weakest track on the album.  ‘The Promise’ is a natural opener for Side Two and it flows so perfectly into ‘The Promised Land.’  Though I’m not sure if I love or hate two songs with such similar titles sitting right next to each other in the track listing.

Side One
Badlands
Adam Raised A Cain
Something In The Night
Candy’s Room
Racing In The Street

Side Two
The Promise
The Promised Land
Factory
Prove It All Night
Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Tunnel Of Love

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10-Tracking this album isn’t going to make it great.  Despite it being popular amongst fans, I just never connected with this album and never will.  But I like this 10-Tracked version better.  The crap has been trimmed off and it’s front loaded to hell, which is the standard approach when the material isn’t all that good.   I would never love it but I’d prefer this version.  For sure.

Side One
Ain’t Got You
Tougher Than The Rest
Brilliant Disguise
One Step Up
Valentine’s Day

Side Two
Tunnel Of Love
Walk Like A Man
Spare Parts
Cautious Man
Two Faces

The Ghost Of Tom Joad

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One of my favourite Springsteen albums.  But as much as I love this album there is no denying that’s it is too long and that one of it’s best tracks (‘Brothers Under The Bridge’) was left off…seemingly for no reason at all. This 10-Tracked version probably takes a very good album and, maybe, makes it great.

Side One
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Straight Time
Highway 29
Youngstown
Across The River

Side Two
Brothers Under The Bridge
Sinaloa Cowboys
The Line
Galveston Bay
The New Timer

Devils & Dust

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Nothing would make this album great but this 10-tracked version is an improvement.  This version is front loaded to make it easier to listen to, well, it makes the first part of it easier to listen to anyway.  I quite like this Side One. Overall it’s a more consistent album too because we’ve cut out most of the tracks that don’t fit the Nebraska/Tom Joad sound, leaving only the more sparse, acoustic songs.

Side One
Devils & Dust
Reno
Black Cowboys
Leah
Matamoras Banks

Side Two
Long Time Comin’
Jesus Was An Only Child
The Hitter
Silver Palomino
All I’m Thinkin’ About

Magic

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This is a really good album as is.  The 10-Tracked version improves it just by making it that bit tighter by cutting the excess tracks that aren’t quite up to scratch.  Similiarly with ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’, this 10-Tracked version takes a very good album and gets it much closer to being great.

Side One
Radio Nowhere
Livin’ In The Future
I’ll Work For Your Love
Gypsy Biker
Girls In Their Summer Clothes

Side Two
Magic
Last To Die
Long Walk Home
Devil’s Arcade
Terry’s Song

Working On A Dream

BS_WOAD_5x5_site-500x500Now this album is too far gone down the road to Shitsville to be saved merely by 10-Tracking it.  But it’s improved, no doubt.  Most of the utter shit on this album got the cut, though it would have been great to lose ‘Kingdom Of Days’ too. ‘The Wrestler’ is included despite the fact it was written for the soundtrack of the movie.  It was included as a bonus track on some versions of this album and it was pretty clear that the ‘bonus track’ was the best thing on the album.  The 10-Tracked version is front loaded to all hell and it’s improved…which is the best we can hope for here.

And yes, we’d obviously do something about the fucking god-awful cover.

Side One
Outlaw Pete
My Lucky Day
Life Itself
Working On A Dream
The Wrestler

Side Two
What Love Can Do
Kingdom Of Days
Tomorrow Never Knows
Good Eye
The Last Carnival

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The Cheese 10-Tracks Springsteen’s ‘The River’

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If I told you that Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’ was going to get 10-Tracked, I’d imagine you’d say something like – Why would you do that?  Isn’t it already one of the greatest albums of all time?  Isn’t that just a total waste of time?

And I would probably agree with you.   At no time in the process of 10-Tracking ‘The River’ was I not 100% aware that it was a complete waste of time.  Even more so than anything else on The Cheese.

But it was 10-Tracked.  That’s just what happened.

The good news is we’re not going to completely waste everyone’s time by trying to squeeze ‘The River’ into one, 10 track album.  Relax, it’s still a double album. This is one of the super-rare occasions where the material is so strong that it actually justifies a double album.  Not only that, as discussed when ‘The River’ was Given The Cheese, the sprawling nature of the album is one of it’s best virtues.  Squeezing it into one, 10 track album would take away one of it’s biggest strengths.

Similarly, the sequencing isn’t going to be changed much either.  Again, as raised when the album was Given The Cheese, the rambling sequencing makes the album feel  like  an epic studio concert and is one of the best things about the album.   It was tempting to dick around with track listing and make the first album full of up-tempo, party tunes and the second album full of the slower, moody tracks.  That would be a good listen.  But even though the album feels all over the place, I think Springsteen knew exactly what he was doing when he sequenced the album.  So we’re going to leave it as it is.

While we heap a lot of deserved praise on ‘The River’, it does have its weaker tracks.  And there is a lot of really strong material from this era on the ‘Tracks’ release that never made the album, so there is certainly a bit of work to be done.

In the end ‘Crush On You’ and ‘I Wanna Marry You’ had to go.  The songs are semi-decent but there are much stronger tracks available form this era.  The other two more obvious tracks to get the cut are ‘You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch’ and ‘I’m A Rocker’, which are as close as ‘The River’ tracks got to kind-of/sort-of sucking.

They’re replaced with ‘Where The Bands Are’, ‘Bring On The Night’, ‘Loose Ends’ and ‘Roulette.’  Those four songs, especially ‘Loose Ends’ and ‘Roulette’ rate right up there with the best songs Springsteen has ever written and would have fit perfectly onto the album.

So, the track listing for the 10-Tracked version of ‘The River’ is…

Side One
The Ties That Bind
Sherry Darling
Jackson Cage
Two Hearts
Independence Day

Side Two
Hungry Heart
Out In The Street
Where The Bands Are
Bring On The Night
Loose Ends
The River

Side Three
Point Blank
Cadillac Ranch
Roulette
Fade Away
Stolen Car

Side Four
Ramrod
The Price You Pay
Drive All Night
Wreck On The Highway

The biggest change is on Side Two, which had the majority of the less great tracks on it.  I like this version.  To my ears, it’s 20 strong tracks with absolutely nothing to skip.  Can you imagine a double album with nothing to skip?  Incredible.

10 Tracks, 2 albums.  Nice and clean.

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The Cheese 10-Tracks Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’

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Way back when Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’ was Given The Cheese, I wrote that this album is special to a lot of Springsteen fans because :

–  It was his comeback album and was, to many people, his best album in almost 20 years.
–  It was a cathartic reflection on 9/11, so it’s pretty serious stuff.

For those reasons, it’s best not to speak too negatively about this album around Springsteen fans. And while it is a great album, it is very long (15 tracks) and there is a bit of obvious filler that does not need to be there.

With that said, it’s actually difficult to get this down to 10 tracks. The obvious tracks to immediately cut are ‘The Fuse’ and ‘Let’s Be Friends (Skin To Skin.)’ These tracks are the weakest of the 15 and do not add anything to the overall theme of the album.

There are also a few songs that sound like they’re almost really good songs but are not completely finished or fully realised. Songs like ‘Countin’ On A Miracle’ and ‘Empty Sky’ fall into the category. They’re good songs but something is just missing in the studio versions. This is especially obvious when hearing the live version of ‘Empty Sky’, which is just perfect. Both of these songs fit perfectly within the theme of the album but ‘Empty Sky’ seems to be the stronger of the two. So ‘Countin’ On A Miracle’ is out.

‘The Rising’ is one of those rare albums that works really well as a 12-track album. So far, it joins only ‘Achtung Baby’ as the only albums The Cheese is okay at running over 10 tracks.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the sequencing of ‘The Rising’ and maybe this is a result of how big the album is. It’s no doubt difficult to turn a 15 track album into something that flows well and has a logic to its sequencing.

The track listing for the 12 tracked version of ‘The Rising’ looks like this :

Side One
Lonesome Day
Paradise
You’re Missing
Worlds Apart
Empty Sky
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day

Side Two
The Rising
Into The Fire
Nothing Man
Mary’s Place
Further On (Up The Road)
My City Of Ruins

This certainly isn’t a front loaded album like so many of the 10-tracked versions we’ve come up with so far. The sequencing works on a whole and the two sides are thematically different from different from each other, which I like.

Side One is much more bleak, full of songs dealing with loss, grief, separation and conflict. Side Two is much brighter, with songs mostly about defiance, community, faith and hope.

If the album had to be cut down to 10 tracks, I think ‘Empty Sky’ and ‘Into The Fire’ would probably be cut. They’re both good songs but other songs on the album deal with similar issues and the studio versions of these songs aren’t as strong as they could be.  But, in the end, I think the album works better with 12 tracks.  The material is strong enough to justify it.

12 tracks. Not as nice and clean as 10 tracks but an improvement on the original.

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The Cheese 10-Tracks Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’

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‘Born In The USA’ doesn’t need a huge make-over, it’s a classic album and probably has the majority of Springsteen’s most famous songs on it.  It only needs some trimming around the edges.

The album is 12 tracks long and it’s obvious which two need to go to get this down to 10.  ‘Working On The Highway’ is a decent track but not up to the standard of the rest of the album.  ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ is infectious and fun (like so much of the extra material that never made the album) but again just isn’t up to scratch.

The final track listing for the 10-Tracked version of ‘Born In The USA’ is :

Side One :
1.  Born In The USA
2.  Cover Me
3.  Darlington County
4.  Downbound Train
5.  I’m On Fire

Side Two:
1.  No Surrender
2. Bobby Jean
3.  Glory Days
4.  Dancing In The Dark
5.  My Hometown

Now that is perfect.  The sequencing hasn’t changed from the original because it flows so nicely as it is.  Each of these ten tracks is strong.  It would be one of those rare albums where every song could conceivably be released as a single.  I could imagine any of these songs being played on the radio in 1984.  And probably in 2014 too.

Shit, writing that just made me realise this album is 30 years old.  30!!  That’s insane.  Which must mean that next year ‘Born To Run’ will be 40.  That’s fucking crazy.  40 years is a long time, man.  Shit.

Anyway…

Max Weinberg, drummer for the E Street Band and bandleader for Conan O’Brien’s TV show and exact doppelgänger to a Politics professor I had at University in 1997, said that over 80 songs were recorded for this album.  Fucking 80 tracks!   Apparently 32 songs, including those on the album, have been released in one way or another in the 30 years since.

The songs from this era released on ‘Tracks’ in 1998 are very strong.  And it makes you wonder why Springsteen never released a follow-up EP in 1985 with some of this material.  It could have looked something like this:

Side One :
1.  My Love Will Not Let You Down
2.  Frankie

Side Two
1.  Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart
2. This Hard Land
3.  Stand On It

That would have been a killer EP.  The two tracks on Side One are two of my favourite Springsteen tracks of all time.  I can see why they were left off ‘Born In The USA’ because they really would not have fit.  But they would have been fine on an EP together.  And they deserved to be released on something like this instead of buried amongst 66 songs on the ‘Tracks album.’

I dare anyone to listen to ‘Stand On It’ and not end up smiling by the end of it.  It’s one of the catchiest songs ever written.  When you first hear it, you’ll inevitably go through four stages :

Stage 1 – You’ll think…‘Fuck, this song is god-awful dreadful.  How embarrassing for Bruce.’
Stage 2 – Then you’ll think…’It might be shit, but it sure is catchy.’
Stage 3 – Then it’ll dawn on you…’This song is fucking awesome and why
am I only hearing it now?’
Stage 4 – Then, you’ll finally declare…’I need to listen to that again, really loud.’

Anyway…’Born In The USA’ has been 10-Tracked and is much better for it.  And a new EP was born.  So it’s been quite a day.

10 tracks.  Nice and clean.

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The Cheese 10-Tracks Springsteen’s ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town’

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It wasn’t hard to work out where the starting point should be when deciding to turn our attention to 10-Tracking some of Springsteen’s work.

‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town’ were released on the same day in 1992.   Both albums ranked toward the bottom of Springsteen’s albums when he was Given The Cheese.  They’re clearly two of his worst albums.  Yet between the two albums there were 24 tracks.  24 tracks spread out over two fairly shitty albums?  Incredible.

What complicates matters is Springsteen released 12 more tracks from this era in 1998 on his rarities ‘Tracks’ collection.  So we’re now dealing with 36 songs that do not come close to representing Springsteen’s best work.  In other words, this is a bloated mess of biblical proportions and is easily the biggest shitstorm we’ve had to 10-Track.  This was harder than 10-Tracking U2’s ‘Rattle & Hum.’

The first step in working out how to 10-Track this mess is coming to the reality that there is only one 10-ten track album amongst the 36 tracks.  The majority of the work just is not strong enough to justify 2 albums or a double album, despite the huge number of songs.

The eventual track listing looks like this…

Side One
1.  Human Touch
2.  Better Days
3.  Lucky Town
4.  If I Should Fall Behind
5.  Leap Of Faith

Side Two
1.  Local Hero
2.  Soul Driver
3.  57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)
4.  Book Of Dreams
5.  My Beautiful Reward

I much prefer this 10-tracked version than the 24-track/2-album fiasco we were served up.  While this album would never be a classic, I think it would take it from being two of Springsteen’s worst albums and probably make it a middle of the road kind of album.  Which is a huge improvement considering the mess we started with.

I certainly would enjoy listening to this a whole lot more than I would listening to the two albums we were given, desperately skipping tracks in hope of finding the half decent songs.

The sequencing was fairly easy to do.  Obeying the rules set out in the 10-tracked versions of U2’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ and ‘How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb’ – when the material isn’t strong the best thing to do is front load the hell out of it.  And that was certainly done here.

Side One is totally comprised of the singles released from the two albums, and they’re mostly up-tempo rock songs.  And it works because they’re 5 good songs in a row…that does not happen at any stage on the two albums we were given.

Side Two is mostly album tracks, though ’57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)’ was released as a single.  I like this side as well.  Local Hero and Soul Driver are two very strong album tracks to open the side.  And I like that the album finishes on two quieter songs in a row.

The only regret is not being able to fit ‘Sad Eyes’ (from the ‘Tracks’ album) or ‘With Every Wish’ (from the ‘Human Touch’ album) onto the 10-Tracked album.  Both are really nice quieter tracks that I quite like.  ‘With Every Wish’ would have made a good closer, but I just think ‘My Beautiful Reward’ is a better final track.  Both would make excellent b-sides.  Or a quick little EP could be justified from the stronger left over tracks.  Maybe something like this :

Side One
Living Proof
Sad Eyes

Side Two
Roll Of The Dice
With Every Wish

Fictional EPs will come up from time to time as we 10-Track Springsteen’s work.  The amount of material Springsteen has that never made an album is phenomenal. Some of this material that didn’t make the cut is incredibly strong and just didn’t fit thematically on the album.  But the songs are still really worthwhile, sometimes they’re the best he’s ever done.   I’ve never been sure why Springsteen didn’t follow most albums with a small EP of the material that didn’t make the cut.  That would have been better than having awesome tracks buried deep on a 66-song box set of rarities like ‘Tracks.’

But all that is beside the point.  The point is that ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town’ have been 10-Tracked and a much better album has resulted from it.

10 tracks.  Nice and clean.

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Springsteen Gets Given The Cheese

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It’s been a big job. We haven’t had time to dick around.  But we’re ready now.

The correct ranking of Springsteen’s albums is :

01  Born To Run (1975)
02  Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)
03  The River (1980)
04  Nebraska (1982)
05  Born In The USA (1984)
06  The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995)
07  Wrecking Ball (2012)
08  Magic (2007)
09  The Rising (2002)
10  Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (1973)
11  High Hopes (2013)
12  Devils & Dust (2005)
13  Tunnel Of Love (1987)
14  Lucky Town (1992)
15  Human Touch (1992)
16  The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973)
17  Working On A Dream (2009)
18  The Seeger Sessions (2006)

I think that is about fair.

1-5 are, for different reasons, classic albums that I’d put up against any album by any artist.  I enjoy that they are the typical ‘best’ Springsteen albums and they are totally un-ironically listed in chronicle order.

6 is a real personal favourite of mine

7-11 are almost all made up of Springsteen post-2000 career resurgence, with the exception of ‘Greetings.’   He’s really made some excellent albums of late.  Pearl Jam have too.  So too did R.E.M.  Where are you U2?  Just sayin’.

12 walks some thin ice but has some really good moments

13-17 are all unnecessary albums in my opinion with occasional great moments. There is maybe 1.5 albums worth of decent material across all five of them.

18 is a shitshow the likes we rarely ever see

So, without a doubt, it is clear that Springsteen has been Given the Cheese.

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Springsteen – Non-Album Tracks

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Springsteen is prolific as hell, as a result there is just a butt load of material that isn’t on any of his 18 albums.

There is so much of it that I’ll break it up into ‘great’ and ‘very good’ songs.  Anything that would have ranked lower won’t get a mention.

This list won’t even come close to covering all of it but hopefully I can capture most of the non-album material that would have been ranked in the ‘great’ or ‘very good’ sections if the song had found it’s way onto an album.

GREAT SONGS :
The Fever
The Promise (version on ‘The Promise’ album)
The Promise (version on the ’18 Tracks’ album)
One Way Street
Because The Night
The Wrong Side Of The Street
Ain’t Good Enough For You
City Of Night
Iceman
Roulette
Loose Ends
Bring On The Night
Cindy
The Big Pyabck
Frankie
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart
Blood Brothers
Sad Eyes
Streets Of Philadelphia
Secret Garden
Dead Man Walkin’
Brothers Under The Bridge
Back In Your Arms
The Wrestler

VERY GOOD SONGS :
So Young And In Love
Gotta Get That Feeling
Linda Let Me Be The One
Hearts Of Stone
Restless Nights
Where The Bands Are
Living On The Edge Of The World
A Good Man Is Hard To Find (Pittsburg)
Johnny Bye-Bye
Shut Out The Light
This Hard Land
Stand On It
Missing