- Initial pressings included a limited edition bonus disc featuring previously unreleased studios and live performances.
- Personnel includes: Bruce Springsteen (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, harmonica, recorder, bass); Patti Scialfa (vocals, guitar); Nils Lofgren (guitar, slide guitar, dobro, banjo, background vocals); Steve Van Zandt (guitar, mandolin, background vocals); Danny Frederici (accordion, piano, organ, Farfisa organ, glockenspiel, background vocals); Clarence Clemons (saxophone, percussion, background vocals); Garry Tallent (tuba, bass, background vocals); Roy Bittan (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, pump organ, keyboards, synthesizer, glockenspiel, background vocals); David Sancious (piano, electric piano, organ, Clavinet); Max Weinberg (drums, background vocals); Soozie Tyrell (background vocals).
- Producers includes: Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel, Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Steve Van Zandt.
- Recorded between 1973 & 2002.
- If you're looking for a definitive Bruce Springsteen collection, search no further. THE ESSENTIAL BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN covers every phase of the Boss's career, from the Dylan-inspired absurdist folk-rock of his 1973 debut, through the Brando-with-a-Telecaster pathos of DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, to the Spectorian grandeur of BORN TO RUN and the stark, existential folk of NEBRASKA. And that's just the first disc! The second goes on to document Springsteen's superstar period with cuts from the epochal BORN IN THE USA and the moody, stripped-down TUNNEL OF LOVE, on through his post-9/11 mission statement, THE RISING.
- For hardcore fans that already own everything on the first two CDs, there's a bonus disc of rarities--none of which appeared on the prolific songwriter's rarities box set, TRACKS. The brightest spots of disc three are easily the equal of Springsteen's best-known material. Bruce's own version of "From Small Things" (covered successfully by Dave Edmunds), a furious live version of the working man's lament "Held Up Without a Gun," and the gorgeously evanescent "County Fair" are worth the price of admission all by themselves. True to its promise, this collection perfectly captures the essence of the gifted Jersey boy's magic.
Entertainment Weekly (11/21/03, p.86) - "...The collectible [third] CD...is [even] more rewarding than the '98 outtakes box, TRACKS....disc 3 is as engaging a ride as any through Springsteen's '80s peaks, '90s valleys, and current rebirth." - Rating: A-
Q (1/04, p.148) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[I]ncontestably the heart of a mighty legacy."
Uncut (1/04, p.124) - 4 stars out of 5 - "When he gets quiet, gets home after crowded nights and faces solitary dawns, he's an extraordinary artist with a spooky, magical gift."s
Mojo (Publisher) (12/03, p.128) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]his is as good a Springsteen 'best of' as you're likely to get."