Classic Rock Corner

Eyeballin: Bruce Springsteen: Road Trip - 40 Years of the Boss

While its packaging and title are fairly misleading - the cover photo of Road Trip is a contemporary concert shot, and there's nothing here covering anything past 1984's Born in the USA, this nearly three-hour, 2-DVD documentary is still a worthwhile title for the hardcore Boss lover looking to go deeper than a Rolling Stone record review.

Disc 1 is a wonderful, well-shot documentary about Springsteen's life and music from his teen years up to the massive global success of USA. It utilizes talking-head interviews with the usual suspects of rock-lit crits (Robert Christgau, Anthony DeCurtis, Patrick Humphries), as well as former bandmates and school friends, with the best reflections from former drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez and early manager Richard "Tinker" West - who famously let the young Bruce and his band rehearse and crash at his surfboard factory on the Jersey shore.

Lopez's anger toward defrocked later manager Mike Appel for instigating his leaving the group prior the success of Born to Run still simmers (though Bruce could have indeed intervened if he'd wanted to). But he happily recalls recording "The E Street Shuffle," revealing that the part noises made by the band in the background weren't faked as there was a full-on tequila party going.

There is no Springsteen music or performance footage here, and only snippets of a video interview done with an obviously tired artist somewhere backstage on what looks like the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. But the story flows so well it's not missed.

Disc 2 is of lesser importance. Instead of a continuation of the Springsteen story, it's simply a reissue of Bruce Springsteen: Under Review 1978-82 - Tale of the Working Man taking a deeper look into the Boss' Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, and Nebraska LPs.

Some of the talking heads are the same, joined by Springsteen scholars including Chris Phillips, Eric Alterman and June Skinner Sawyers. But only the discussion of the themes and characters in Nebraska offers any real insight. Snippets of music and poor-quality performance footage is included, including a rare music video of "Hungry Heart" shot years after its appearance in the charts.

Overall, Road Trip is for the hardcore Springsteen fan - even though much of the information has previously been covered somewhere in the groaning Bookshelf of Bruce.

Pride DVD, 170 mins, $26.95.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero