Bruce Springsteen’s The River gets massive box set

1980 double album expanded into four-CD, three-DVD set with unheard tracks, documentary, and more


Bruce Springsteen has announced a massive reissue of his 1980 double-LP classic, The River. Due out December 4th, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection contains four CDs and three DVDs. Alongside the original two-disc album, the box set includes a single-CD version of The River that Springsteen initially intended to release in 1979, 11 rare and unreleased tracks from The River sessions, 10 previously released non-album cuts from the era, a documentary, and a concert film.

His first record to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and the first to feature a Top Ten single (“Hungry Heart”), The River marked Springsteen’s fifth album. He initially turned in a single-album version under the name The Ties That Bind in 1979, but took it back when he realized he wasn’t done writing about the themes therein. He continued recording through 1980, producing more tracks than could fit on even a double album, many of which are contained on the box’s 22-track The River: Outtakes.

Some of those songs were released on the 1998 box set Tracks, including “Restless Nights”, “Where the Bands Are”, and “Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own”. Others, like “Meet Me in the City”, “Stray Bullets”, and “Party Lights”, have never been heard until now. As a preview of the newly revealed songs, Springsteen has shared “Meet Me in the City”, a jaunty nighttime swinger about a felon “charged with doin’ things I can’t explain” wooing the object of his affection. Check it out below.

(Read: Bruce Springsteen: 40 Years, 40 Songs)

Also featured in the box is an hour-long documentary directed and produced by Thom Zimny called The Ties That Bind. Alongside photos and concert footage from around The River‘s release, the doc shows Springsteen performing acoustic versions of the the album’s songs while discussing their backstories. In one scene that appears to be shot outside of his New Jersey home, Springsteen discusses “Independence Day”. “You’re brought into a very late night intimate convention between two people,” he says of the track. “It’s part of a series of songs that I wrote about my dad that weren’t completely autobiographical, but were emotionally autobiographical.”

The final piece of media in the box set is a two-DVD concert Springsteen and the E Street Band filmed in Tempe, Arizona on November 5th, 1980, the day after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Though apparently incomplete, the film features 160 minutes of footage, plus 20 minutes of rehearsal footage from September of that year prior to the album’s release.

In the documentary The Ties That Bind, Springsteen discusses the role The River played in his growth both personally and as an artist.

“It was a nice place in our development. At the time, I was pouring through a variety of history books just to contextualize myself, understand where I came from and what that meant. I wanted to write songs of breadth that had some depth to them. And I knew I wanted to write about the place I lived and I wanted to write about social forces that I felt played through that history. I devoured quite a few history books at the time trying to get a sense of where everything came from.”

Also included is a 148-page book containing 200 rare photographs, an essay by Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Mikal Gilmore, the original RS review, reproduced pages from Springsteen’s notebooks, and other memorabilia from the era. Pre-orders are going on via iTunes and Amazon.

The Ties That Bind: The River Collection Tracklist:

CD 1
The River: Record One
01. The Ties That Bind
02. Sherry Darling
03. Jackson Cage
04. Two Hearts
05. Independence Day
06. Hungry Heart
07. Out In The Street
08. Crush On You
09. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
10. I Wanna Marry You
11. The River

CD 2
The River: Record Two
01. Point Blank
02. Cadillac Ranch
03. I’m A Rocker
04. Fade Away
05. Stolen Car
06. Ramrod
07. The Price You Pay
08. Drive All Night
09. Wreck On The Highway

CD 3
The River: Single Album
01. The Ties That Bind
02. Cindy
03. Hungry Heart
04. Stolen Car (Version 1)
05. Be True
06. The River
07. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) (Version 1)
08. The Price You Pay
09. I Wanna Marry You
10. Loose End

CD 4
The River: Outtakes
01. Meet Me in the City
02. The Man Who Got Away
03. Little White Lies
04. The Time That Never Was
05. Night Fire
06. Whitetown
07. Chain Lightning
08. Party Lights
09. Paradise By The “C”
10. Stray Bullet
11. Mr. Outside
12. Roulette
13. Restless Nights
14. Where The Bands Are
15. Dollhouse
16. Living On The Edge Of The World
17. Take ’em As They Come
18. Ricky Wants A Man Of Her Own
19. I Wanna Be With You
20. Mary Lou
21. Held Up Without a Gun
22. From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)

The Ties That Bind (Documentary)

The River Tour, Tempe 1980
Concert – Part 1
01. Born to Run
02. Prove It All Night
03. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
04. Jackson Cage
05. Two Hearts
06. The Promised Land
07. Out in the Street
08. The River
09. Badlands
10. Thunder Road
11. No Money Down
12. Cadillac Ranch
13. Hungry Heart
14. Fire
15. Sherry Darling
16. I Wanna Marry You
17. Crush on You
18. Ramrod
19. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

The River Tour, Tempe 1980
Concert – Part 2
01. Drive All Night
02. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
03. I’m A Rocker
04. Jungleland
05. Detroit Medley
06. Where The Bands Are (Credits)

BONUS: The River Tour Rehearsals
01. Ramrod
02. Cadillac Ranch
03. Fire
04. Crush On You
05. Sherry Darling

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