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Click above to purchase "Bruce Springsteen Video Anthology
1978-2000" at amazon.com
Bruce Springsteen Video Anthology 1978-2000
review by Anthony D.
Studio: Columbia Music
Starring Bruce Springsteen, The 'E' Street Band,
Directors: Arnold Levine, Danny Goldberg, Julian
Schlosberg, Anthony Polenza, Brian de Palma, John Sayles,
Arthur Rosato, Meiret Avis, Carol Dodds, Adam Bernstein,
Jonathan Demme, Peter Care, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn
Retail Price: $29.98
Features: 5 Bonus Videos and Performances, Discography
with audio clips
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM
Stereo, Two-Disc Set
"I knew Bruce Springsteen when his muscles were as
scrawny as his chord changes." - Bette Midler
Mud Will be Flung Tonight
Spanning two decades this collection of videos
strengthens the case that Bruce Springsteen is as much
"American music" as Irving Berlin is. With rare exception,
(Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters, Elmer Fudd),
Springsteen's songs have not been covered by other artists;
they are personal statements that few other artists have the
capacity of making their own. Whereas Irving Berlin wrote
his music from the early 1900's through to the early 1960's,
and wrote in the "popular" tone of the period, Bruce's
musical output rivals Berlin's in terms of prolificity. Like
Berlin, Springsteen's songs stand as a document to the times
his life occupies.
Opening with a high-octane live performance of
"Rosalita," with the immense support of "The 'E' Street
Band," the anthology in its whole takes the viewer on a
biographical journey focused on one the icons of Rock 'n
Roll. The videos themselves range from the sublime to the
ridiculous, with several concert clips and television
appearances thrown in for good measure. This Anthology was
previously released on videotape and laserdisc which covered
Springsteen's musical career only up until 1988, but those
twelve years in between have seen Bruce return to his roots
several times ("The Ghost of Tom Joad" echoes of the
all-acoustic album "Nebraska"), re-uniting with "The 'E'
Street Band for the "Greatest Hits" album, becoming a
two-time Oscar nominee and taking home the Academy
Award® for his plaintive "Streets of Philadelphia."
After a deliberately rough-shod beginning, the videos
presented here are truly the best of Bruce Springsteen.
Because of the various sources used, film/video tape,
clarity is never a problem. The concert clips at the start
of the program are filmed, but excessively grainy, and
nearly washed out color-wise, I don't think that any
remastering was done here, and sadly, the clips from the
film, "No Nukes" are not presented in their original aspect
ratio. After those initial MINOR complaints, the video
quality steps up a few notches to near-perfection. Music
videos as a whole, vary in their use of colors and
filtering, but those presented here are above broadcast
standards. The fact that the colors remain true to their
director's intention is the point, and a point adequately
exemplified by the paean to feminity, "Secret Garden"
(Chapter 7; Disc Two) with its lavender washes and pinks.
Fleshtones are exceedingly accurate, and Patty Scalfia's red
hair gleams constantly in great detail. I found only one
instance of video noise and aliasing, in the harshly lit,
videotaped "Fire" (Chapter 11; Disc One). And getting back
to Bette Midler's statement, yes, indeed, viewers can see
for themselves the growth of Bruce's frame - - especially
those biceps on display in the otherwise forgettable
"Dancing in the Dark), and the buns that became a national
icon with "Born in the U.S.A" (Chapter 6; Disc One)!
What a fan wants from a rock star is brilliant sound, and
this package delivers on its promise of Dolby Digital 5.1
Sound. Though also equipped with a PCM Stereo track, it is
the Dolby Digital that will delight both die-hard
Springsteen fans as well as newcomers to "The Boss'" music.
Building on the Phil Spector "wall of sound" school of
recording, the Dolby Digital never disappoints. Every member
of Bruce's back-up bands, is given his/her due through this
remastered track; though Max Weinberg's exceptional drumming
truly benfits from the 5.1 channeling. The sound, I would
have to say, is noticeably more involved than the cd
recordings, enveloping the listener at every turn. And for
once, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is not used as a
technogical showpiece; but rather a true document to the
sound of the best rock and roll to come out of New Jersey.
Though the packaging touts all of the second disc as "15
Bonus Videos and Performances," I beg to differ. These
additional, to the previous video release, are merely an
extension of the former. Either way, these final fifteen
videos offer up the more mature Bruce Sprigsteen that we had
only glimpses of on Disc One, so they do merit the
terminology of "special." THE BONUS FEATURE is truly the
"Complete Discopgraphy," located on Disc Two, which allows
viewers access to each of Bruce Springsteen's albums,
accompanied by a stereo audio clip representative of that
album; it's a nice feature that I hadn't run across before.
My caveat regarding the extras is limited to what isn't
there: Where are the performance clips from The Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame? The Grammy Awards? Where are the two
performances at The Academy Awards? I guess that since it is
not billed as a "Special Edition," Columbia didn't feel the
need to include these performances.
Taking the entire package in as a one sitting deal is
akin to watching a filmed biography of Bruce Springsteen.
The viewer sees the then-scrawny, energetic, playful Bruce
develop track by track into a superb songwriter (his
performance skills were never doubted); each chapter, like a
chapter in a novel, sees the literal as well as the
metaphorical growth of the artist commonly called "The
Boss." It took several years before Springsteen's music
caught up with MTV, so the set initiates with the three
concert performances, the first time that Springsteen fans
got to see him on the silver screen are the two tracks from
the stil-unavailable charity event: "No Nukes: The Concert,"
and that concert footage, rough as it may be, started a
discrete love affair with the camera. This set stands as a
true testament to the power of popular music. The sublime,
gritty black and white photography of "Atlantic City,"
presented immediately before the ridiculous Brian De palma
helmed "Dancing in the Dark" (Courtney Cox fans, take note:
this was her major breakthrough role!) only reinforced the
camera-shy Bruce's decision to NOT make his videos for the
MTV audience. Following the blow-dried, pretty boy antics on
display in "Dancing in the Dark," the videos become
stand-alone films, slight glimpses into Springsteen's
private world. One almost feels like a voyeur while watching
the courtship between Bruce and bandmate Patty Scalfia (most
highly eroticized in Chapter 16, Disc One's "Tougher than
the Rest.") move from the concert stage into the real-life
world of Los Angeles and marriage.
The fact that Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia"
captured the Academy Award as "Best Song written for a Film
- 1993) only elevates Bruce's stature in the music industry,
and it's video, shot by "Philadelphia's" director Jonathan
Demme is as haunting as can be. Bruce's second Academy Award
nomination came with Tim Robbins' "Dead Man Walking," an
acoustic ballad that should have taken home the Award.
Immediately following Robbins' film, Springsteen set out on
a totally acoustic tour, represented here by the title song
of his second acoustic album, "The Ghost of Tom Joad,"
(which is of course named after the protagonist in John
Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath) which gets ample
presentation here with both the video (which includes
photography by Bruce's sister Pamela) and his yearning
performance on "The Tonight Show."
What would a Bruce Springsteen Anthology be without the
inclusion of his signature song, "Born to Run?" Or his 1984
Number One hit "Born in the U.S.A.?" Both songs are given
special attention in both rock and acoustic settings. The
former captures a rollicking stadium version shot at various
world-wide locations as well as a pensive, introspective
acoustic revisit (Disc One; Chapters 12 & 18); whereas
the latter is shown through director John Sayles' video and
an acoustic, strained performance on "The Charlie Rose Show"
(Disc One; Chapter 6: Disc Two; Chapter 14).
Yes, all the best of Bruce is here in its digital glory.
Fans of Springsteen can revisit those glory days, and
hopefully, with this release, and the simultaneous release
of "Blood Brothers: Bruce Springsteen and the 'E' Street
Band" should garner new fans for The Boss.
(5/5 - NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)