Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"War" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2944
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  45
Peak:  8
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Springsteen had a reputation for being a terrific live performer and some of his concerts would even go over the three-hour mark. Yet after a decade of recording music that resulted in seven successful studio albums, Springsteen had yet to release a live disc. As things from his #1 LP Born in the U.S.A. wound down near the end of '85, Springsteen's producer, Jon Landau, sent some concert tapes his way thinking it was time to explore a live record. Over the next few months, the pair would comb over hundreds of concert recordings that were culled over the years. They whittled down selections until they had a set of tracks that practically mimicked Springsteen's three-hour events. The songs would be spread over five LPs and boxed up to become Live /1975-85. It was ready in time for the '86 Christmas holiday period and to promote it, this first single was selected for release. The song was a hit at Rock getting to #4 while becoming his eighth Top 10 Pop entry in a row. It created even more demand for the box set and when released in mid-November, it burst on to the Album chart at the #1 position. It was only the fourth album in chart history to debut at #1 and the first since Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life in 1976. It was an epic debut for an artist who was know for giving epic concerts.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this box set came out. It was like an event. I believe that it wasn't too expensive (maybe $25?), but for a barely working college kid, that was a chunk of change. So I did the logical thing - I asked for it for Christmas. Got it! In the end, I wasn't all that enthralled with it. I should have known better because I never really liked live albums, but then it was Springsteen. It has to be something awesome. I found it to just be okay. I'm pretty sure I listened to the whole set once and then filed the box away. It was just too much for me. I might have enjoyed attending one of his mega-concerts, but to listen to it on album was a bit of a chore. I copied a few tracks I liked to cassette so I could hear them separately. This song was one of them. Springsteen applied the appropriate grit to the politically charged tune and as always the E Street Band were on point. It was a solid reading of the old hit and an appropriate choice for a single. It did well, but it has kind of been forgotten over the years.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Eventually, the box set would be certified 13x platinum making it one of the best selling concert albums of all time. However, the RIAA's policy at the time was to count each disc in a box set separately for certification. Therefore, since Springsteen's set had five discs, a purchase of the set counted as five towards certification. So while it may have been certified 13x platinum, the actual count of full box sets sold was around 4 million.  2) While Springsteen only recorded his own original songs for his albums, he would often throw in cover tunes into his concert sets. This was one of them. It was recorded at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum on September 30, 1985. It was originally recorded by The Temptations early in 1970 for their Psychedelic Shack album and there were calls to release it as a single, but Motown refused to because they thought the political nature of it would harm the group's reputation. Instead, it got recorded by Edwin Starr and issued out in the summer of '70. The song became a big #1 Pop/#3 R&B hit.


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