born to run ya?
Haunting acoustic - Nebraska, Ghost of Tom Joad
Anthemic - Born To Run, Born In The USA
Rocky but more angry/downbeat - Darkness On The Edge of Town/Magic
Loose, more freeform - first two albums
I reckon Darkness On The Edge of Town is his best, but you can't really go wrong with any of them (except Lucky Town/Human touch - avoid those).
Man's a genius.
Nebraska is brilliant and another option but bear in mind it's very different to most of his stuff
it is amazing. In fact i'm gonna listen to it right now.
Other than his early-90's shitfest double whammy of Human Touch/Lucky Town, you can't go wrong. I'm not really a fan of 'Working On A Dream' either, but a lot of people seem to like it. All the others range from 'really good' to 'stone cold classic' though - with my favourites being Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town and The River (which REALLY deserves more mentions in 'Best double albums of all time' lists and threads).
Of his late period Brendan O'Brien stuff, Magic > The Rising > Devils And Dust >>> Working On A Dream.
in my opinion
i've been listening to the river a lot recently. super good.
any of the first 7 records are brilliant.
with 'Born to Run'. A bit like 'Purple Rain' by Prince, it's great but sort of out there on its own.
'The River' or 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' are good, slightly less polished places to start. Or if you're willing to spend a bit more, 'Tracks' would be an outstanding all round introduction to his pre-Rising work.
As for the newer stuff, I'd agree 'Magic' is the must-have, with 'Devils and Dust' and 'The Rising' close behind. 'Working on a Dream' ranks quite a way down there, just above 'Lucky Town', quality wise.