Bruce Springsteen Shows Soulful Side on New Covers Album

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Photo of Bruce Springsteen by Danny Clinch; used with permission

Bruce Springsteen has a new album, Only the Strong Survive, of classic soul covers. The collection’s 15 tracks include his remakes of favorites popularized by the Temptations, the Four Tops, Aretha Franklin  and more. The album, released on Nov. 11, 2022, via Columbia Records, is named for the 1969 Jerry Butler single, a 1969 R&B and pop hit. Springsteen teased the collection since Sept. 26 with a series of social media posts. Watch the videos for the many of the songs below.

Springsteen’s 21st studio album features guest vocals by Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave fame), as well as contributions from the E Street Horns, full string arrangements by Rob Mathes and backing vocals by Soozie Tyrell, Lisa Lowell, Michelle Moore, Curtis King Jr., Dennis Collins and Fonzi Thornton.

In the Sept. 29 announcement, Springsteen said, “I wanted to make an album where I just sang. And what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies? I’ve taken my inspiration from Levi Stubbs, David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, the Iceman Jerry Butler, Diana Ross, Dobie Gray and Scott Walker, among many others.”

Listen to his cover of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” a worldwide hit for the Walker Brothers in 1966.

“I’ve tried to do justice to them all—and to the fabulous writers of this glorious music. My goal is for the modern audience to experience its beauty and joy, just as I have since I first heard it. I hope you love listening to it as much as I loved making it.”

Watch the clip for “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” written and first recorded by Frank Wilson

Related: Springsteen made his debut on The Howard Stern Show on Oct. 31, 2022

Watch Springsteen share some insight on the making of the album

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have an international tour planned for 2023. Tickets are available here and on StubHub.

“Nightshift” was first recorded by the Commodores on Motown Records in 1985, serving as a tribute to late soul music heroes Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson just after they passed.

Watch the videos for “Nightshift” and a rousing “Turn Back the Hands of Time,” a 1970 smash for Tyrone Davis

“Don’t Play That Song,” a hit for both Ben E. King and Aretha Franklin, was written by Atlantic Records’ co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and Betty Nelson (King’s wife).

Only the Strong Survive Track Listing (noting primary artist*)
1. Only the Strong Survive (Jerry Butler)
2. Soul Days feat. Sam Moore (Dobie Gray)
3. Nightshift (The Commodores)
4. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) (Frank Wilson)
5. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (The Walker Brothers)
6. Turn Back the Hands of Time (Tyrone Davis)
7. When She Was My Girl (The Four Tops)
8. Hey, Western Union Man (Jerry Butler)
9. I Wish It Would Rain (The Temptations)
10. Don’t Play That Song (Ben E. King)
11. Any Other Way (Jackie Shane)
12. I Forgot to Be Your Lover feat. Sam Moore (William Bell)
13. 7 Rooms of Gloom (The Four Tops)
14. What Becomes of the Brokenhearted (Jimmy Ruffin)
15. Someday We’ll Be Together (Diana Ross and the Supremes)

* A tip of the cap to Showbiz 411 for the research

“7 Rooms of Gloom,” from the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland was a 1967 hit for the Four Tops.

Another Motown favorite, “I Wish It Would Rain,” was first recorded by the Temptations.

Springsteen also tackles a song long associated with Diana Ross.

Best Classic Bands Staff

8 Comments so far

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  1. BeatleStone
    #1 BeatleStone 29 September, 2022, 10:22

    He’s overrated as an artist along with his albums & hopefully this will be good.

    Reply this comment
    • Mr Kenny
      Mr Kenny 30 September, 2022, 01:47

      Well now there’s an understatement! Springsteen is constantly searching for new places to take his voice. This album is great news. Check out the originals of the tracks on the album here :

      Reply this comment
    • BWails
      BWails 30 September, 2022, 18:00

      Overated? The man is a genius.

      Reply this comment
      • melf
        melf 30 September, 2022, 21:16

        In total agreement here.
        To the people who have not seen the Light,
        check out any one of his numerous live videos on You tube. The man has proven himself worthy, and busy putting out vintage music. I think he is just not alive if he is not arranging some form of music!
        Thanks to the previous write in, with the link for it. Like to hear how he manages the Temptations tune and Tyrone Davis, they are classics.

        Reply this comment
    • PjS
      PjS 14 October, 2022, 03:04

      What can you do at 82.
      Obviously you don’t know the classics
      And guess you forgot
      If you have nothing nice to say

      Reply this comment
    • Weakknees
      Weakknees 15 October, 2022, 12:38

      You have to be joking?

      Reply this comment
  2. Dino Saur
    #2 Dino Saur 19 October, 2022, 22:06

    Not a fan of Springsteen’s political/social positions of the past 25 years or so – Although I actually agreed with him on a number of issues in the late 70’s through the mid-80s, coming from a blue-collar background.

    But I have to give the man credit where it is due – The man is a dynamic performer, brilliant songwriter, and charismatic front man.
    If you have ever seen him live, you understand.

    “The Rising” was (IMO) his last great concept album; but after “The Rising”, he became far too political in his songwriting, almost vitriolic, although he still has put out some decent albums over the past twenty years, with some worthwhile, thought-provoking songs.

    This covers albums could be interesting, but covers albums generally don’t generate much interest for me, unless the artist(s) completely reinterprets the vocal and/or musical arrangements, of the selected songs.

    Reply this comment
  3. Jarmo Keranen
    #3 Jarmo Keranen 12 November, 2022, 13:17

    I listened his versions of two songs that has always been in my favorite list. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore and I Wish It Would Rain. Compared to the Walker Brothers and the Temptations versions, one word came to my mind and it was soulless!

    Reply this comment

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