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1. 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' (1978)
Springsteen’s masterpiece. His most aggressive album musically, “Darkness” was influenced by a legal battle with his former manager that put Springsteen on a forced hiatus. That may have set the mood, but the songs are about the shattered American Dream. You make the decision if you’re going to fight, whether it’s simply by getting up and going to work everyday, such as on “Factory” or give up, like the woman in “Racing In the Street,” perhaps the saddest song Springsteen ever wrote (and that’s saying a lot). From the anthemic “Badlands” to the blistering, feral “Adam Raised a Cain,” the sex-soaked “Candy’s Room,” and the title track, this one is for all of us poor bastards who pay the cost for wanting things that can only be found in the darkness on the edge of town. If “Streets of Fire” weren’t on here, it would be absolutely perfect from start to finish.