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Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9.25
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9
Creativity 10
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 9.25
Final Verdict: 94%
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Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

Reviewed by: Thomas Nassiff (05/09/11)
Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Release Date: January 5, 1973
Record Label: Columbia


Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. is one of the two records that Bruce Springsteen released before he was Bruce Springsteen. At this point in his career, a 23-year-old Springsteen was not yet The Boss, but a singer/songwriter who Columbia Records signed with the hope that he would blossom into the next Bob Dylan. To say the least, Columbia was not pleased with Springsteen's January 1973 debut full-length, as Greetings had no huge singles and proved to be much more rock'n'roll than Columbia had bargained for.

The record was received well by critics at the time of release, but Springsteen didn't become America's favorite rock star right away. Columbia released "Blinded By the Light" and "Spirit In the Night" as singles, but neither had any impact whatsoever on any charts. Most people only know "Blinded By the Light" because of the remake by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, and "Spirit By the Night" didn't have the instant accessibility needed to become a regular number played on the radio. Considering the conditions under which the record was written, with Springsteen recording with producer/manager Mike Appel in one of the cheapest available studios in New York, it's not much of a surprise that it only sold around 25,000 copies in its first year.

Despite the fact that Columbia wasn't all that pleased with Springsteen's first output, Greetings was an essential step in his career and did spawn a number of excellent songs. The entire record is nine tracks, with five of them going on to become notable fan favorites, especially at live shows. Both of the aforementioned singles are excellent to see live, and "Lost in the Flood" and "For You" both have legendary recorded performances. The interesting thing is that on Greetings, "Lost in the Flood" lacks most of the punch it packs at a live show. The same can be said to a lesser extent with "For You," but that track is where I'd recommend a listener to start with Greetings.

"Blinded By the Light," the opening track, is probably the most instantly accessible one. It's easy to see why Columbia chose it as a single out of the bunch, but sitting at just over five minutes, it was going to be tough to see any significant radio play. The song is one of Springsteen's catchiest, however, and it kicks off a remarkable first side of the record. "Growin' Up" and "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?" are both criminally underrated, even by the droves of Springsteen faithful. The only song that really could have been left off is probably "The Angel" - something that Springsteen himself might not even deny. The band has only played that song once live, at the first and only performance of Greetings in its entirety.

To keep it short and sweet, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. is not a Springsteen record I would throw at an unfamiliar listener. I have gone through phases where I listened to this record endlessly, where I thought it was one of The Boss' better outputs. But in the end, Greetings is much more important for the chain of events it set off than for what it actually is as a record. If Columbia didn't start pressuring Springsteen for something different, he may not have eventually written Born To Run.

Greetings also inspired an immensely important characteristic of Springsteen's early following: the record became adored in pockets around the country, big markets that would flock to see him perform live. Springsteen performances became legendary even when he was only playing songs off Greetings and a few covers. He would turn a handful of original songs and crowd-pleasing covers into a performance that lasted two hours, and he quickly became enshrined as a working-class hero among Americans, even when his music was still making its way around the country in a more "underground" fashion. For a 23-year-old who learned the guitar by listening to the radio and figuring out top 40 hits in minutes, Greetings wasn't a bad first crack at this whole record-making business.

Notable Fact: Ranked No. 379 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the best 500 albums of all time.
Recommended If You LikeBob Dylan in his later relevant years but more rock and roll.
Follow Me On TwitterRight here.
Bare Essentials1. Blinded By The Light
2. Growin' Up
3. Mary, Queen Of Arkansas
4. Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?
5. Lost In The Flood
6. The Angel
7. For You
8. Spirit In The Night
9. It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City
Produced By: Mike Appel, Run Time: 37 minutes
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
01:18 PM on 05/09/11
#2
trolland10
Listen to Limbeck
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the writing on this album is in my opinion some of the best ever
01:22 PM on 05/09/11
#3
cshadows2887
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I agree with "Lost in the Flood" lacking punch on this version, but it works in a weird way. The live version is all spectacle and big rock chords, but on Greetings I find myself focusing on the story, which is one of his best. "And they said 'Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud.'"

Also, "Growing Up" has its fans, finally. The Bouncing Souls notably covered it. And Bowie did an almost note-for-note version way back in the day, but it got cut from whatever record he did it for.

I also love that you can hear not just his love of Dylan, but Van Morrison as well. "Spirit in the Night" has some serious Van vibes.
01:25 PM on 05/09/11
#4
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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I agree with "Lost in the Flood" lacking punch on this version, but it works in a weird way. The live version is all spectacle and big rock chords, but on Greetings I find myself focusing on the story, which is one of his best. "And they said 'Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud.'"

Also, "Growing Up" has its fans, finally. The Bouncing Souls notably covered it. And Bowie did an almost note-for-note version way back in the day, but it got cut from whatever record he did it for.

I also love that you can hear not just his love of Dylan, but Van Morrison as well. "Spirit in the Night" has some serious Van vibes.
"Lost In The Flood" is probably my favorite storytelling that isn't Incident On 57th or Jungleland.
01:33 PM on 05/09/11
#5
cshadows2887
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"Lost In The Flood" is probably my favorite storytelling that isn't Incident On 57th or Jungleland.
Truth. It's also probably his darkest. The first indication that it wasn't all just block parties and drunken sex at a lake for these characters, but there was some, ahem, darkness on the edge of town.
01:38 PM on 05/09/11
#6
Thomas Nassiff
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Truth. It's also probably his darkest. The first indication that it wasn't all just block parties and drunken sex at a lake for these characters, but there was some, ahem, darkness on the edge of town.
Hahaha well done.
02:36 PM on 05/09/11
#7
harley7733
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I'm so pleased with the Springsteen Series being written, that being said, this is one of my favorite Bruce albums next to Born To Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Growing Up is an amazing song and Im so glad you mentioned how underrated "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St." is. Great review.
08:12 AM on 05/10/11
#8
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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I agree with "Lost in the Flood" lacking punch on this version, but it works in a weird way. The live version is all spectacle and big rock chords, but on Greetings I find myself focusing on the story, which is one of his best. "And they said 'Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud.'"

Also, "Growing Up" has its fans, finally. The Bouncing Souls notably covered it. And Bowie did an almost note-for-note version way back in the day, but it got cut from whatever record he did it for.

I also love that you can hear not just his love of Dylan, but Van Morrison as well. "Spirit in the Night" has some serious Van vibes.

Growing Up is my mom's favorite Springsteen song, actually.

And definitely agreed on the Van influence on Spirit in the Night.

As for this record, it's never been one of my favorite Springsteen records: I think he eclipsed it so much on the next four that sometimes they overshadow it for me, but when I do listen to this one, I enjoy it a lot, and there are some damn great songs.
10:49 PM on 05/14/11
#9
Zach Haddad
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"Growin' Up" is my favorite Springsteen track of all time. As you said, this album could be considered "criminally underrated" as a whole.
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