For the fan who doesn’t have to have everything, Bruce Springsteen has released a digital-only companion to the massive Album Collection Vol. 2 box set.
While the main event focuses on Springsteen’s 1987-1996 catalog, Spare Parts: The 9 EP Digital Collection, is career-spanning, mostly live and includes a couple of B sides and outtakes. From the ’70s to the aughts, from E Street to solo and from deep tracks (“Growin’ Up”) to massive hits (“Hungry Heart”), Spare Parts is a competent – if compact – cross-section of Springsteen’s career that runs one hour, 40 minutes, or about half an E Street Band concert.
Its sheer diversity coupled with the rarity of some of the previously unavailable tracks means Spare Parts should appeal to both hard-core and casual followers.
There’s a handful of full-band excursions on tracks such as “Incident on 57th Street” and “The Rising.” But it’s the solo-acoustic numbers that’re most riveting, including two versions “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” the Dobro rendition of “Born in the U.S.A” and an exuberant reading of “Spirit in the Night,” with Springsteen on piano and his fans on backing vocals.
”A Night with the Jersey Devil” is Springsteen as he’s rarely heard, a gritty “Mannish Boy” rewrite recorded for the Working on a Dream sessions. Meanwhile, “Thunder Road” is, as always, an exquisite melding of Springsteen’s folksy storytelling and quintessentially bombastic E Street rock ‘n’ roll.
As jumping-off points go, this one is splendid.