Great Rock Albums of 1980: Bruce Springsteen- The River

These photos aren’t the cover of the 1980 album “The River” from Bruce Springsteen, they are of my little vacation in Torquay on the southwest coast of England. Being American, I like to show my holiday snaps to everyone, so I thought I would show mine here. Don’t worry, there are only two. I did find a pub that sometimes has metal bands playing there, but not on the night I went.

A very nice view of Torquay Harbour

A very nice view of Torquay Harbour


I thought this looked cool

I thought this looked cool

I didn’t go into that pub, but I loved the suit of armour so I snapped it. Well, holiday over, onto The Boss!


If it wasn’t for me hearing about this album while I was on sea duty during the last four months of 1980 and the first two of ’81, I would have delayed the album to 1981. I can’t remember who it was but one of my fellow marines had a copy of “The River” by Bruce Springsteen (cassette, always cassette in the military due to limited living space) and played it to which I have to say that I was duly impressed. The very first track, “The Ties That Bind” is all you could ask for with a traditional Springsteen album and sets the stage throughout this impressive double album.

What I really like about it too is that fact that it talks about the two sides of life. There are some fun happy tracks like “Sherry Darling” and “Crush On You” but it also talks about some of the more depressing things of that time, recession, unemployment  and other aspects of life that aren’t all apple pie and smiles. The title track for me was the sign of the time for many people then and there was no getting away from that. The track “Drive All Night” has been used in not one but two films, “Copland” and “Reign Over Me.” However, no matter what the mood of any given song, there is that well known and loved straight ahead rock and roll sound that has made Springsteen famous for nearly forty years. As usual, he has the E Street Band backing him up and they as always, don’t disappoint.

Track Listing:

1. The Ties That Bind

2. Sherry Darling

3. Jackson Cage

4. Two Hearts

5. Independence Day

6. Hungry Heart

7. Out In The Street

8. Crush On You

9. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

10. I Want To Marry You

11. The River

12. Point Blank

13. Cadillac Ranch

14. I’m a Rocker

15. Fade Away

16. Stolen Car

17. Ramrod

18. The Price You Pay

19. Drive All Night

20. Wreck On The Highway

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano

Roy Bittan- piano, organ, backing vocals

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone, percussion, backing vocals

Danny Federicci- organ, glockenspiel

Garry Talent- bass

Steve Van Zandt- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Max Weinberg- drums

Pick any song on this album, even the top ten single “Hungry Heart” and no doubt it will be a good one. “The River” is definitely Bruce Springsteen at his best and the songs on the album bear testimony to that. It has been considered among his best with “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA” and I can hear why.

My Bloodstock Tickets

My Bloodstock Tickets

Next post: Will probably come out next week because as already mentioned, I’m off to the Bloodstock Festival on Sunday. Unfortunately, I have to go to the in laws for the next three days after that so I’m afraid you won’t read my account of Sunday until then. But you will get the account.

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London








18 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1980: Bruce Springsteen- The River”

  1. This is a real classic
    The title songs live version from the Boss´ triple live album – is a real gem! If you haven´t – make sure you google it – and enjoy the full 11 minutes it lasts 🙂


  2. Great writeup and I love the personal touches.

    COOL suit of armor, dude!!!!


  3. I was at the height of my Springsteen obsession when The River came out. I still remember the first time I opened it up and all the diverse sounds that came out. I’m not sure it holds up for me quite as well as Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but it’s still about 80-90% brilliant. I think this was also the first double album I bought that didn’t come in a gatefold sleeve.


    • Having grown up in New Jersey, I had Springsteen shoved down my throat not that it was a bad thing. I do love “Darkness On the Edge of Town” as well. Believe it or not, I never saw this album on vinyl, only cassette but I do remember back then that it seemed all double albums had that gatefold sleeve.


      • I’ve since seen a handful of double albums with extra-wide non-gatefold sleeves like The River. Two that come to mind are Heart’s “Greatest Hits/Live” and Southside Johnny’s “Live: Reach Up And Touch The Sky.” Since those were either live or compilations, I can understand the decision to hold pack on the packaging, but “The River” was a huge artistic statement and a gatefold would have made it seem even more impressive.

        Then again, as I was typing this, I remembered that Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” wasn’t in a gatefold sleeve (even though most of their single albums were)…but that had the cut-outs for the tenement windows which made that packaging so unique.

        Sorry, I’m off-topic. I grew up on Staten Island, which is more a part of NJ than NY, so I know what you mean about having Bruce shoved down your throat. I was initially resistant to his music since I was more into hard rock & prog, but I think my love of Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” (which featured several E Street Band members) in ’77/’78 was my gateway to “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” By the time “The River” was released I already owned Bruce’s previous four albums. The rest is history.


      • Kramer, you mention some great albums here, spot on what you say about “Physical Graffiti.” I just remembered a triple album that wasn’t gatefold by had a little booklet to go with it; “The Last Waltz” by the Band. I didn’t take to Springsteen at first either. The first song I heard of his was “Blinded By the Light” and I much preferred Manfred Mann’s version of that song. However, as I had him shoved down my throat my junior year at high school, I did grow to like him.


  4. Great write-up. I was never a big Boss fan but there are a few songs on this I really liked.

    Looks like you had great weather for your Torquay trip too! Hope the hotel was ok 😉


    • HMO, don’t get me started on the hotel. There was this buzzing noise outside our room that kept my wife awake for the first two nights. Fortunately for me, I had alcohol assisting my sleep. We did complain and they moved us to a different room the third night which was much better. We did have great weather in Torquay, but it rained in bucketsful the entire drive down.
      Thanks for you comments, I take it you aren’t going to Bloodstock this weekend.


  5. I prefer my Bruce a bit more miserable for some reason – I can’t get enough ‘Nebraska’ – guaranteed to make any day a rainy one!


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