Bruce Springsteen gained the nickname “The Boss” because he was the guy who collected the pay and doled it out to members of the E Street Band. The name stuck, and he’s lived up to that reputation by taking center stage as one of the best modern performers of the age. Springsteen has released 22 albums so far. With the help of critics and fans, we reveal how each stacks up in a ranking that starts with the worst and ends with the number one most popular.
22. “Human Touch”
Ultimate Classic Rock ranks “Human Touch” as the least favorite album released by Springsteen in their ranking system. It’s the 20th best though. The album came out in 1992, and it appeared to be inconsistent without a cohesive theme. Listeners from AllMusic complained that the band had taken on a generic sound. Overall, the ratings were low, placing it at the bottom of our best albums list.
21. “High Hopes”
They released this album in 2014. It features a variety of covers and songs written decades ago that were previously unreleased. It’s understandable why the album received its title “High Hopes,” but it didn’t meet with the enthusiasm that Springsteen hoped. Reviews were scathing with indications that it was more of a churn project to put out another album merely for the sake of it, rather than having a cohesive theme and purpose.
20. “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”
This album came out in 1973 as a debut album. We got to hear the acoustic genius of The Boss, which was a good leg up for him entering the music industry. Springsteen has a knack for delivering high on simple songs because of the emotion he puts into them. There’s something about the quality of his voice that puts them over in a way that only The Boss can. The album gave us a sense of what was to come.
19. ” Working on a Dream”
Pitchfork offers an eye-opening take on the “Working on a Dream” project. This project is not one of his best attempts. The tracks have the vibe of being experimental. He is trying new methods in rhythms and vocals that culminate in a less than satisfactory finished product.
18. “The Ghost of Tom Joad”
This album dropped as one of the best story albums of Springsteen’s career in 1995. It’s more of a political commentary with songs pointing out how Americans have become more complacent about the plight of the working class and those who slave endlessly in low-paying jobs, shouldering the burdens for the upper class.
17. “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions”
This album came out in 2006 as a cover tribute to the songs of Pete Seeger and the musicians who worked with him. Putting out this album was a calculated risk. The politics were in the air, but it was about playing music in the end. It worked out with fans adoring this album, giving it the 15th spot in our list of best albums.16.
Pitchfork delivers a fairly scathing review of “Nebraska”. The album came out in 1982, just two years before the phenomenal “Born in the USA” drop. The critics point out that The Boss didn’t follow up with a tour for the album, leaving it out in the cold.
15. “The Rising”
“The Rising” is an album that came out in 2002. It was an album that was not perfect, but its vagueness was understandable. It came in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy with tracks that lean toward the event. There was no classy way to discuss the events of 9/11, the social climate, and the feelings of the American people without keeping it vague. Springsteen kept the lyrics more general.
14. “Western Stars”
This album emerged in 2019, one of his more recent projects. The album’s theme marked a pivotal point in his musical career with a change of pace that his fans embraced. His style took on alternative routes, and it highlights yet more of his many musical talents. “Western Stars” is the 11th best album ever released by Bruce Springsteen.
“Tracks” dropped in 1998 in a boxed set that features some of the best outtakes and sessions trivia. These songs came from the archive and came together in a documentary of the 1990s era for Springsteen. Everyone loves a good story, and this release gave us better insights into the career of The Boss. The album set featured songs that were set aside for a time, then found a place in the hearts of fans upon their reveal.
“Magic” dropped in October 2007. Album of the Year gives it a rating of 75 out of 100 for its overall score, placing it as the 15th most popular album, but we think it deserves a little more credit than that. Politics are nothing new for Springsteen. Maybe some things need to be said. The album has some uncomfortable themes throughout, but it extols the American ideals of living life and pursuing avenues for happiness with liberty for all.
11. “Lucky Town”
“Lucky Town” is Springsteen’s second album. It came out in 1992 at the same time that “Human Touch” dropped. It outshined its partner in the double drop with “Lucky Town” and “If I Should Fall Behind,” two of the best tracks on the project. “Local Hero” provides a commentary on how much fame changed the artist, along with “Book of Dreams,” suggesting he’s a faithful guy in romance. The lyrics are cohesive and the overall vibe of the album is tight. It’s a cohesive project filled with balanced emotions. The lyrical content is strong. It goes straight to the point without going out on any experimental adventures here. It’s a solid album.
10. “The Promise”
“The Promise” came out in 2010. This is a two-disc set that came out as components of the box set titled “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Fans loved the 40 outtakes from the jam sessions to record the boxed set and bring it all together. Fans and critics alike agreed that this is one of his most consistent works. Metacritic credits the set with the ability to stand on its own with no support needed.
9. “The River”
“The River” is a 1980 release. It came out as a double album that is so well balanced that it reaches out to a larger segment of the population. The tracks “The Price You Pay” and “The River” are both serious songs, while “I’m a Rocker,” and “Crush on You” are lighter tunes that give the album a balance that makes it good listening for most circumstances if you’re a Springsteen fan.
8. “Devils & Dust”
“Devils & Dust” dropped in 2005. There were a few songs on this album that take the form of short stories. Many of the tracks on this album feature the backing of other artists. There are also quite a few that he included in his concerts, which listeners seemed to like, depending on who you talk to. Metacritic gives this album a high ranking of 81 out of 100 based on input from 24 reviewers.
7. “The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle”
Far Out Magazine ranks “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle” as the 7th best album of all time for Springsteen. They released this project in 1973, early in his career and it remains in the top ten best albums ever made by The Boss. It came out shortly after the debut album and it met with the expectations of Springsteen’s growing fan base.
6. “Wrecking Ball”
“Wrecking Ball” hit a few nerves politically, and it was strong in political content. The political irony and a bit of balance tempered the album with new tracks and included a few older songs for balance. Overall, it was one of the better albums of his career, even if some lyrics didn’t sit well with everyone.
5. “Letter to You”
“Letter to You” dropped in 2020. It’s a documentary that combines an album with films in a tribute to friends that have left this world. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers give it a 95% approval rating. The tracks are all good, but there is a focus on aging and mortality such as “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” and “One Minute You’re Here.”
4. “Tunnel of Love”
“Tunnel of Love” came out in 1987. The album came out after “Born in the USA and was further confirmation that Bruce Springsteen was one of America’s finest and most beloved artists of all time. This album was a big departure from the previous release and it gave us a better glimpse of who the artist was and is. It’s one of his greater masterpieces.
3. “Born in the USA”
“Born in the USA dropped in 1984. This is an album that drove Bruce Springsteen’s popularity to dizzying heights of popularity. It’s like an independence day theme on steroids with songs that belie his pride in being an American. The tracks on this album also inspired the rest of the nation to feel a swelling of pride. During the year of its release, the titular song received a lot of airplay on the radio stations.
2. “Born to Run”
“Born to Run” came out in 1975. The titular song set a nearly impossible top bar for Springsteen to follow up. This track was one of the best songs he has ever written in his career, loaded with poetic imagery that told a story you could imagine taking as if viewing a movie. It became a hit across the globe, selling over six million copies. There is only one album that eclipsed the greatness of “Born to Run.”
1.”Darkness on the Edge of Town”
AllMusic joins many others in supporting this as one of the best albums of Springsteen’s career. The album came out in 1978. The lyrics of the tracks are ideals that most of us can relate to. It’s an album that contains songs that appeal to the masses of fans. It features twisted and dark moments and those times in life that shine with beauty. It was a courageous work that took a gamble, and the chance Bruce takes a risk by offering yin and yang in one album paid off. This project is one of the most widely celebrated albums of all time, embracing a balance in its content that remains one of his best projects of all time.