Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run – 30th Anniversary Edition
The labor pains of this defining masterpiece are, like so much in Springsteen's career, the stuff of rock myth. Featuring a largely reconfigured E Street Band (and the first of Springsteen's records to be produced by Jon Landau, the former critic who had announced that Springsteen represented the future of rock a couple of years before), much of the album updates Phil Spector's legendary "Wall of Sound" approach, attaching it to almost operatic tales of passion and escape. "It's a town full of losers — I'm pulling out of here to win," announces the narrator of "Thunder Road," and if shivers don't go up and down your spine as the song then shifts into its overdrive outro, you need to check yourself for a pulse. The ever-astonishing title track aside, the record's other individual high points are all thoroughly distinctive: the yowling story of friendship and betrayal "Backstreets," the West Side Story-meets-Dylan epic "Jungleland," the loose, funny and funky "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and the terse, lyrical "Meeting Across the River," still one of Springsteen's best story songs, and maybe one of the best story songs ever.