Rolling StoneRanked #86
in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Albums Of The Eighties" survey (November 1989).
Q - 12/94, p.1703 Stars
- Good - "...may yet prove to be the greatest evocation of Springsteen's vision, laden as equally with childhood memories and first sex as with life's current disillusions and stale sex....[the title track is] impossibly beautiful..."
CMJ - 11/15/99, p.24
"...THE RIVER's got cars, girls, sex, unemployment and alcohol; when you've got a hot band behind you, making all that stuff resonate, well, brother, that's called rock'n'roll."
Q (Magazine) - p.120
"[I]t remains his most eclectic offering, rooted in recession-era fables of troubled times..."
Personnel: Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar); Steve Van Zandt (guitar); Clarence Clemons (tenor saxophone); Roy Bittan (piano); Danny Federici (organ); Garry Tallent (bass); Max Weinberg (drums); Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan (background vocals).
Producers: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Steve Van Zandt.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Recorded at The Power Station, New York, New York.
Personnel: Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, electric 12-string guitar, harmonica, piano); Steven Van Zandt (vocals, guitar); Clarence Clemons (vocals, saxophone, percussion, background vocals); Danny Federici (vocals, organ); Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman (vocals, background vocals); Steve VanZandt (guitar); Garry Tallent (horns); Roy Bittan (piano, organ, keyboards, background vocals); Max Weinberg (drums).
Audio Mixers: Chuck Plotkin; Toby Scott; Bob Clearmountain.
Recording information: The Power Station, New York, NY (03/1979-08/1980).
Photographers: Amanda Flick; Frank Stefanko; David Gahr; Jimmy Wachtel; Barry Goldenberg; Joel Bernstein.
Only Springsteen could have got away with releasing a double album with 19 tracks of what was basically the same song. Such was his standing that he did, and it worked like a dream. Almost all the tracks hit you in the stomach, with burning saxophone from Clarence Clemons and piercing wurlitzer organ. Bruce, meanwhile, sings of cars and girls and girls and cars, but at no stage does he forget that this is rock 'n' roll. With this release Springsteen completed a rite of passage. Described as the "new Dylan" early in his career, the singer proved this tag a fallacy, drawing on Dansette pop - Phil Spector, Gary US Bonds, Mitch Ryder - rather than the folk tradition. The singer articulated the dilemmas of America's blue-collar workforce, encapsulating a generation trapped in a post-60s malaise. He does so with sumptuous melodies which draw in, rather than confront, the listener and show Springsteen not just as a magnetic showman, but as a pensive, literate songwriter.