Judge Patrick Naugle is a true fan of The Boss; his "private" e-mail address is even taken from one of Springsteen's famous songs. Read his analysis of this disc containing all of Springsteen's music videos.
Boss videos aplenty.
Bruce Springsteen is a legend of rock and roll. In the Esteemed ranks of Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, Springsteen has secured his legendary statues by not fading into the rock and roll void or self-destructing via drugs or fame. From his debut masterpiece "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J." to the bombastic "Born in the U.S.A." to the reunited 1999-2000 E-Street Band tour, Springsteen continues to make music that not only entertains but enlightens, a feat almost unheard of in today's sugar-pop market. His songs are about a lost America, a place where dreams can be found and lost, love can be grand or destructive, and lives can be filled with euphoria or emptiness. In his long career Bruce Springsteen has not taken the road less traveled; he has taken a different road altogether.
Facts of the Case
Bruce Springsteen Video Anthology 1978-2000 is a compilation of videos spanning his over 20-year career. The songs on this double disc set are:
• Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
• Human Touch
I will say right off the bat this review will be undeniably biased, as I am a huge Springsteen fan. When I heard that Columbia Music Video would be releasing both this two disc anthology and the Springsteen/E-Street Band documentary Blood Brothers onto DVD, I was ecstatic. Not only would we be getting the video anthology, but also a second disc of previously rare and rarely seen videos. Very exciting stuff for us Boss fans.
Springsteen's music holds up well after years of scrutinizing. The same can also be said of most of his videos. Though Springsteen's videos may not be the special effects extravaganzas of today's videos, they transcend into a much more exciting viewing experience. As Springsteen became a megastar in the mid '80s he was able to enlist big name directors to helm many of his videos. Brian De Palma ("Dancing In The Dark"), actor Sean Penn ("Highway Patrolman"), Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme ("If I Should Fall Behind, "Streets Of Philadelphia," "Murder Incorporated"), Tim Robbins ("Dead Man Walkin'") and Lone Star director John Sayles ("I'm On Fire," "Glory Days") are just some of the A-list talent Springsteen as brought on board to make some one-of-a-kind videos.
Most of these videos still fare well today because they were not empty, big budget videos made for people with the attention span of yams. Instead care and consideration were taken with most of them, and it shows. Some videos have lost their luster from when they first came out. Take "Dancing In The Dark," directed by Brian De Palma (The Untouchables); Even Springsteen was not thrilled with video, a depiction of him singing onstage (lip-syncing no less) and acting hammy as he brings a pre-Friends Courteney Cox onstage to boogey the night away with him. The video feels contrived and fake (as does Courteney's stage entrance). Others show a rare spring of emotion mostly missing in the music video medium. When we watch Springsteen walking down a poverty stricken city clad only in ragged jeans and a sweatshirt in "Streets Of Philadelphia," we can almost feel the hardship he's faced and will continue to face as he sings "Ain't nobody gonna meet me/it's just you and I my friend/and my clothes don't fit me no more/I walked a thousand miles just to slip this skin"
The originality of the videos often comes in concert footage. Raw, rough, and live, Springsteen is one of the most charismatic performers on stage. With such songs as "Leap Of Faith," "Murder Incorporated," and "Fire" we're able to see a striking portrait of a performer who cares more for his music than the fame. Though often thought of as a serious performer, he also can cut loose and have fun. In the catchy "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" the bulk of the song is about one mans search for a decent TV program in the endless pit of cable channels. "Glory Days" is a rollicking juke about the past, set in a bar filled with barflies and pool players, sung strictly for fun by Bruce and his E-Street Band.
The crème de la crème of this set is the semi-acoustic version of "If I Should Fall Behind" (a staple on the 19999-2000 tour). Featuring Springsteen sharing vocals with fellow Band members Patti Scialfa, Nils Lofgrin, Steve Van Zant, and Clarence "Big Man" Clemons, it's a reminder of how beautiful music can be when the right elements come together.
The videos on this set are all featured in a standard form, which is what I assume they were all shot in. Except for a few older concert videos, the bulk of this set is clear of grain or dust. The images look clear and bright with colors showing no fading or bleeding. Some look better than others ("Secret Garden" has a much slicker look to it when compared to the gritty "Born In The U.S.A.") but the overall quality of these videos is excellent. Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo. Both audio selections sound crisp and clear, with no hiss or interference. A nice mix by the people at Columbia.
Supplements include some interactive menus (be still my beating heart), an alternate version of "Secret Garden" (with a string arrangement), plus a complete discography with audio clips (which last about 30 seconds each).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Though some may think it's pointless, I would have liked to have seen some commentaries on a few of the more high-profile videos. It would have been interesting to hear, if nothing else, Brian De Palma or John Sayles talk about what made them decide to direct a Springsteen video (it's fairly obvious why Penn, Demme, and Robbins did it—the song was featured in their films). Otherwise, this package don't lie…it is the complete video anthology for Bruce Springsteen, and a darn good one at that.
I can really only advocate this to Springsteen fans only. Don't get me wrong, there are excellent discs packed with time capsules and great music. However, if you're not a fairly large Springsteen fan I don't think you're going to get much pleasure out of watching him perform over the span of over 30 videos. For around $29.99 you won't go wrong if you've got a hungry heart for some good rockin' America music by one of history's greatest songwriters.
A great concert disc that will play wonderfully on your DVD/sound system!
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