One virtue of this 18-song package is the way it shows the Boss growing ever more statuesque and living-legend-like. It starts with a version of "Rosalita" shot in Phoenix in 1978, in the pre-Nautilus days when Bruce was a scrawny, scruffy live wire. (The girls leaping onstage to kiss him weren't scripted then.) Over time, Springsteen grows more muscular in flesh and attitude. It's like seeing Paul Bunyan sprout up before your eyes. By the time of an in-concert "War" (1986), the bulked-up singer is stomping around all bent over, looking a lot like Atlas. The only new wrinkles on this 100-minute tape are live renditions of "Tougher than the Rest," "Spare Parts" and an acoustic "Born to Run." The other 15 songs will be old hat to Boss fans—a badly shot concert version of "The River" (1980), for instance, or the tortured soul-o Bruce at the kitchen table of "Brilliant Disguise" (1987). The recent segments, especially, look awfully familiar. But this is still a most collectible anthology—and Bruce's growth as an artist and totem is still remarkable. (CMV, $24.98)

  • Contributors:
  • David Hiltbrand,
  • Andrew Abrahams,
  • Ralph Novak.