Columbia - 2002 - 61 minutes

While fans may cheer the E Street Band's return to the studio with Springsteen for the first time since 1984's 'Born in the USA', some will wonder whether this was the album with which to make that comeback.

With many of 'The Rising's tracks written after the events of last September, there's an argument as to whether these songs needed a more intimate approach. The standouts - 'Nothing Man', 'Paradise' and 'My City of Ruins' - work because they're pared down - just as the slide guitar version of 'Born in the USA' was far more chilling and compelling than the one which became a worldwide hit. Songs like 'Into the Fire' and 'You're Missing' would have been classics if they were just Springsteen with a guitar and it's curious that they're so produced, given that the man at the controls, Brendan O'Brien, helped fray Pearl Jam's edges on albums like 'Vitalogy' and 'Yield'.

'The Rising' is still a strong collection, and its anthemic wallop more than makes up for the disappointments of the likes of 'Human Touch' and 'Lucky Town', but for those whose interest in Springsteen extends to his barren masterpieces 'Nebraska' and 'The Ghost of Tom Joad', it's best left to the faithful.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Lonesome Day - Into the Fire - Waitin' on a Sunny Day - Nothing Man - Countin' on a Miracle - Empty Sky - World's Apart - Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin) - Further On (Up the Road) - The Fuse - Mary's Place - you're Missing - The Rising - Paradise - My City of Ruins