10. High Hopes (2014)
The most recent album on this list, “High Hopes”continues Springsteen’s stint with hard rock. The album’s title track hits like a canon and propels the listener accordingly. Also, we finally get a studio version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” featuring Tom Morello absolutely shredding it on lead guitar. If this any indication of Bruce’s future direction, the next decade or so will be exciting.
9. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973)
The only pre-“Born To Run” Springsteen album on this list boasts one of the artist’s biggest hits in “Rosalita,” as well as some underrated classics like “4th of July” and “Incident on 57th Street.” All in all, a very solid album, but the best is yet to come.
8. Tunnel of Love (1987)
This is the album most forgotten, even by Springsteen fans. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting fusion of classic Bruce themes and a pop sound. “Brilliant Disguise” is probably the best-known track, but many are solid.
7. The River (1980)
Outside of the title track and “Hungry Heart”, you won’t find anything else on the album that’ll get mainstream radio play…but that’s okay. The true strength of “The River” is in its depth and the many forgotten gems that make up the record. It’s lesser-known songs like these that make Springsteen concerts unforgettable.
6. Wrecking Ball (2012)
Besides boasting incredible depth, “Wrecking Ball” is the last time Clarence Clemons recorded with Bruce before his tragic death. “Wrecking Ball” is a much-needed, sonic punch to the gut. The title track and a number of others are excellent, but “Land of Hopes and Dreams” is the true star of this album. Most of all, “Wrecking Ball” showed that Bruce can still rock as hard as anyone.
5. The Rising (2002)
After “Tunnel of Love” and “Human Touch,” Springsteen hit a bit of a lull until the 2002 release of “The Rising.” Much of the album pertained to 9/11, as the ever-conscious Springsteen offered his thoughts and feelings on an American tragedy. What is so distinct about this one though, is its gritty sound. At times as a listener, you wonder if Johnny Cash’s influence fueled much of the album. There’s many songs that are great, but “Further On (Up the Road)” is a modern masterpiece.
4. Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
This one plays like a greatest hits album, with many of Springsteen’s standards littering the playlist. What’s sad, is that many listeners can’t feel the cynicism and irony that cut like a binaural knife. There’re so many quality songs, it would take to too long to talk about them all. But for me personally, “Downbound Train” is a lasting image of this album.
3. Nebraska (1982)
If “Born in the U.S.A.” is Springsteen’s most pop, mainstream album, “Nebraska” is its antithesis. The album is as dark as midnight and frequently brooding. Like a nightmare, the album stays with and haunts you. There’s a number of quality tracks, but “Atlantic City” is a major standout.
2. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
How do you follow-up an album as great as “Born To Run?” Well, if you’re Springsteen & co., you do it in impressive fashion. “Darkness” has a biting anger to it that “Born To Run” just didn’t have. Many remember the song for major hits, “Badlands” and “The Promised Land,” but the greatness of the album is really seen in songs like the title track and “Racing in the Streets.”
1. Born To Run (1975)
“Born to Run” didn’t feature a large quantity of tracks, but that’s pretty much the only negative I could come up with. While the quantity may not be there, the quality is off the charts, including two of Bruce’s most iconic songs (“Born To Run” and “Thunder Road”). Those aside, the rest of the album is amazing as well. With the recent passing of Clarence Clemons, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” now takes on greater significance.