The Essential

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Commercially released: November 11, 2003 / 2011
Commercially revised and re-released: August 26, 2008 / October 16, 2015
Label: Columbia
Produced by Jon Landau, Brendan O'Brien, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Plotkin,
 Jimmy Cretecos, Mike Appel, Roy Bittan and Steve Van Zandt
Remastered by Bob Ludwig
Design by Fusako Chubachi, Chris Austopchuk, Dave Bett
Photography by Danny Clinch, Eric Meola, Frank Stefanko, Pellington, Neal Preston,
 Tim White, Krueger and Mary Alfieri

Overview

The Essential Bruce Springsteen is a compilation album by Bruce Springsteen, released on November 11, 2003. In early 2003 Sony Music approached the Springsteen camp requesting that a Springsteen release be part of its Essential series, a group of “best of - anthology” releases from major Sony and affiliate label artists that the company had been marketing (with good commercial results) for several years. Springsteen agreed to be part of the series. Unlike Greatest Hits (1995) or Tracks - 18 Tracks (1998-9), the Essential release does not appear to have involved any associated recording sessions and very little, if any, additional mixing. So Springsteen’s involvement in this project was very minimal, which is evidenced by the fact that Jon Landau is credited as Essential's sole Producer. At its heart it is a two-CD, thirty-track package that culls cornerstone songs from all of Springsteen's original studio albums (up through The Rising), as well as 2001's Live In New York City package. It does not include any recordings from 1986's Live 1975-85 package or 1992's Live Plugged. Essential is geared towards the new or casual Springsteen fan and offers a partially duplicated but slightly broader representation than the earlier Greatest Hits package. The third disc, only available on the regular 2003, and 2008 (3.0 Edition), encompasses an additional twelve recordings of rarities - a mixture of b-sides, charity album releases, movie soundtrack items and previously un-issued studio or live recordings. The bonus CD was not included with some overseas issues, and was also dropped when the set was re-issued in Europe in 2011. Springsteen was the first artist in the Essential series that included such a bonus disc (i.e., the list price of the package is as per a two-CD set, not a three-CD set).

The Essential was reissued on October 16, 2015, this time as a 2-disc set with a radically updated track list, compiling songs from all of Springsteen's studio albums to date plus his Greatest Hits (1995 edition) collection. Not only were tracks from recent albums like Devils & Dust, Magic, Working On A Dream, Wrecking Ball, and High Hopes added, but the set has been revised from the beginning, for instance, swapping "Blinded By the Light" out, and "Growin' Up" in. This is a thoroughly remade set, and it also features remastered tracks not found in that form on other Springsteen releases. But the most notable change from the 2003 issue is the dropping of the bonus third disc which had 12 rare and previously unreleased recordings, now "de-released"? It was described as a "limited edition" bonus disc. Springsteen's involvement in this project was very minimal, which is evidenced by the fact that Jon Landau is credited as Essential's sole Producer.

Tracks Removed Tracks Added
  • Blinded by the Light
  • For You
  • Spirit in the Night
  • Jungleland
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • Nebraska
  • Tunnel of Love
  • Living Proof
  • Lucky Town
  • Mary's Place
  • American Skin (41 Shots)
  • Land of Hope and Dreams
  • + All of Disc 3
  • Growin' Up
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  • Prove It All Night
  • The Ties That Bind
  • Out In The Street
  • Johnny 99
  • Tougher Than The Rest
  • One Step Up
  • If I Should Fall Behind
  • Murder Incorporated
  • Devils & Dust
  • Long Time Comin'
  • Radio Nowhere
  • Working On A Dream
  • My Lucky Day
  • The Wrestler
  • We Take Care Of Our Own
  • Hunter Of Invisible Game

Released

# Song Title Running Time Release
1.1. GROWIN' UP 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / GREETINGS
1.2. ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT) ESSENTIAL: 2015 / WIESS
1.3. 4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY) ESSENTIAL: 2015 / WIESS
1.4. THUNDER ROAD ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BTR
1.5. BORN TO RUN ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BTR
1.6. TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BTR
1.7. BADLANDS ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DARKNESS
1.8. THE PROMISED LAND ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DARKNESS
1.9. PROVE IT ALL NIGHT 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DARKNESS
1.10. THE RIVER ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RIVER
1.11. HUNGRY HEART ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RIVER
1.12. THE TIES THAT BIND 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RIVER
1.13. OUT IN THE STREET 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RIVER
1.14. ATLANTIC CITY ESSENTIAL: 2015 / NEBRASKA
1.15. JOHNNY 99 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / NEBRASKA
1.16. GLORY DAYS ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BITUSA
1.17. BORN IN THE U.S.A. ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BITUSA
1.18. DANCING IN THE DARK ESSENTIAL: 2015 / BITUSA
# Song Title Running Time Release
2.1. TOUGHER THAN THE REST 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / TUNNEL
2.2. BRILLIANT DISGUISE ESSENTIAL: 2015 / TUNNEL
2.3. ONE STEP UP 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / TUNNEL
2.4. HUMAN TOUCH ESSENTIAL: 2015 / HUMAN
2.5. BETTER DAYS 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / LUCKY
2.6. IF I SHOULD FALL BEHIND 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / LUCKY
2.7. STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA ESSENTIAL: 2015 / GREATEST
2.8. MURDER INCORPORATED 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / GREATEST
2.9. THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD ESSENTIAL: 2015 / JOAD
2.10. THE RISING ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RISING
2.11. LONESOME DAY ESSENTIAL: 2015 / RISING
2.12. DEVILS & DUST 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DEVILS
2.13. LONG TIME COMIN' 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DEVILS
2.14. RADIO NOWHERE 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / MAGIC
2.15. WORKING ON A DREAM 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DREAM
2.16. MY LUCKY DAY 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DREAM
2.17. THE WRESTLER 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / DREAM
2.18. WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / WRECKING
2.19. HUNTER OF INVISIBLE GAME 5 ESSENTIAL: 2015 / HOPES

Total Running Time: 2:34:39

1: Previously unreleased.
2: Previously unreleased, alternate version.
3: Previously unreleased, live version.
4: Removed from the 2015 release.
5: Only on the 2015 release.

Additional Information

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