Bruce Springsteen: Album-by-album

Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, 1973 3 stars

Downplaying the soul and R&B side in favour of wordy lyricism got Springsteen saddled with the "New Dylan" tag; but future anthems are discernible in songssuch as "Blinded By The Light" and "Growin' Up".

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, 1973 5 stars

Nine months on, this was a huge step forward, with vastly improved use of the E Street Band: rather than the New Dylan, Bruce here sounds more like the New Van Morrison.

Born To Run, 1975 5 stars

The big breakthrough, whose attempt to fuse Spectorian epic dynamics and Orbisonic melodrama with Dylanesque street parables and R&B grit served due notice of Springsteen's burgeoning ambitions.

Darkness On The Edge Of Town, 1978 5 stars

The brooding cover photo tells the tale: the extrovert confidence and optimism of Born to Run has all but drained away, as adult disillusion dispels the freedom fantasies of youth in tracks such as "Badlands".

The River, 1980 3 stars

A double album built around leftovers from Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen's first US chart-topper leavens the sombre mood of the title track with spirited material such as the rollicking "Cadillac Ranch" and catchy "Hungry Heart".

Nebraska, 1982 4 stars

Springsteen scrapped full band recordings in favour of retaining the haunted quality of his solo demos, which more accurately matched the bleak ruminations on crime and punishment in songs such as "Johnny 99" and the title track.

Born In The USA, 1984 5 stars

Bruce's most insular album was followed by his most brashly populist, a set of hook-laden rock anthems which sold between 20 and 30 million copies, in the process notching up seven straight Top 10 singles, a feat equalled only by Thriller.

Tunnel Of Love, 1987 5 stars

Springsteen responded to the breakdown of his marriage with a series of songs brooding on the difficulty of sustaining a relationship. Its sonic palette of drum machine and synthesisers cast a reflective tone that matched the material beautifully.

Human Touch, 1992 2 stars

Lucky Town, 1992 1 stars

Released simultaneously, this pair of albums are generally – and justifiably – rated among the poorest in his oeuvre, their surfeit of mediocre material matched by indifferent performances in which the absence of all but the occasional member of the E Street Band takes its heaviest toll, despite the compensatory presence of soul giants Bobby Hatfield and Sam Moore among the backing singers.

The Ghost Of Tom Joad, 1995 3 stars

A return to the bleak, bare territory of Nebraska for a collection of tales whose protagonists have all been blind-sided by the American Dream. A flinty repudiation of trickle-down economics and outlaw romanticism, delivered with unflinching simplicity.

The Rising, 2002 2 stars

Anthemic title-track aside, Bruce's 9/11 album is a big disappointment. The songs are pale echoes of former glories, the keyboards sound dated and flaccid, and his response to the cataclysm is weak, clichéd and overly sentimental.

Devils & Dust, 2005 2 stars

More tales of cars and girls, albeit bereft of his youthful enthusiasm: here, travellers yearn for home; barfly losers seek solace in one-night stands; and wetbacks, workers and outsiders tug less persuasively than usual on the heartstrings.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, 2006 3 stars

An enjoyable trawl through the godfather of folk-protest's back catalogue of activist anthems, traditional tragedies, dustbowl ballads and childish whimsy that played at one of Bruce's backyard barbecues.

Magic, 2007 5 stars

A sterling return to form, steeped in disgust at Bush's betrayal of core American virtues, with songs bleeding empathy for wounded soldiers, dead bikers, destroyed families and all the other collateral damage of the ill-judged Iraq campaign.

Working On A Dream, 2009 4 stars

Bruce's welcome to the Obama Era, replete with songs of euphoria and anticipation. The unashamed 1960s pop style of some arrangements is a new twist, as is "Kingdom of Days", a song celebrating old folk, with a touching tone of elegiac uplift.

Win all 16 Springsteen albums

'The Independent' is offering three readers the chance to win Bruce Springsteen's entire back catalogue. To win all 16 albums, all you have to do is to answer the following question: Where was Bruce Springsteen born?

To answer go to www.independentpromotions.co.uk and input the reference code BRUCE. Closing date for competition is 5pm on Friday 3 July. The winner will be drawn at random. Prize is non-transferable and non-refundable. The editor's decision is final. Only one entry per household is allowed. A full set of terms and conditions can be found online at www.independent.co.uk/legal

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