Compared to the gargantuan Live/1975-85, 2001's Live in New York City seems like the very definition of restraint, but consider this – not only does it span two discs, it leaves out a considerable portion of the set list from the show and thereby the set list of Springsteen's celebrated 2000 reunion with the E Street Band. Some critics complained that this record was little more than a tie-in to the HBO special of the same name, but even if that's true, the record would have merit since it illustrates exactly why this group should never have parted ways. In a sense, even if this is the third live album in Springsteen's catalog, it's the first that attempts to replicate the feeling of an evening out with the E Street Band (the Live/1975-85 box tried too hard to be an ultimate experience; MTV Plugged captured a transitional phase).
This Sony release is essentially the Bruce Springsteen greatest-hits set that appeared earlier in 2009 as a Wal-Mart exclusive – setting off a mini storm in the media about whether or not the pro-union Springsteen should have any dealings at all with the non-union Wal-Mart company – with three tracks, "Long Walk Home" (from 2007's Magic) and live versions of "Because the Night" and "Fire," added to the end of the sequence. Columbia's 18-track Greatest Hits set from 1995 probably does a better job of charting through the commercial, radio-ready side of Springsteen's career, but the addition of the live tracks here strengthens this collection and makes it feel like a much broader and more rounded portrait than the original Wal-Mart issue was. The truth is, Springsteen has so many great songs that it is probably impossible to put out a single-disc greatest-hits set that would please everyone, but this one essentially does it's job – you've heard all of these songs on the radio.