Monday, November 15, 2010

Springsteen's Darkness box full of joy for fans


Most of the posts here are about sports, but we are going to take a timeout from that to talk about my favorite artists and one of Jeff's favorites, Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce during the early years.
Tomorrow marks the release of Springsteen's much anticipated box set behind one of his classic allbums (and his best album in my opinion), Darkness on the Edge of Town. The collection had been talked about in fan circles for years but did not seem like it would be a reality. However, in the past year, Springsteen and his team have been working to finish the project.

The box set includes a remastered album, two discs of outtakes, and three DVDs; including one DVD of the documentary, The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town story, a DVD featuring a full album performance shot in a New Jersey theater last December and a DVD of a concert from the Darkness tour in 1978, filmed in Houston.

A few quick thoughts, the tour behind the Darkness album is widely referred to by many rock critics as one of the best rock tours ever for the sheer intensity and power of shows that captured an artist and band that had hit their artistic stride and the fact that Springsteen could rock for over three hours and the crowd would be more exhausted then he was at the end of the night. The full album performance features the-1978 version of the E Street Band, with Charlie Giordano in for the deceased Danny Federici and shows a still powerful band that can bring it every night.

The Promise documentary garnered lots of positive reviews at various film festivals and was on HBO last month. The documentary captures the inner workings of an artist trying to move onto the adult world and writing about it, while in the midst of a battle for the ownership of his music and musicial integrity and the struggles that come from following up a much-hyped and successful album with another one that is just as strong. The film captures a close look at Springsteen's obsessive song writing habits, looks at some material he left off the album and examines the brother-esque relationship that right-hand man and guitarist Steven Van Zandt and Springsteen had and still have. The film is a must watch for any music film and even just the casual fan of Springsteen to better understand the inner workings of a man driven to succeed, what this album meant and a side of Springsteen that we have not often seen.

The remastered album is a nice cleaned up product, but the two discs of outtakes are solid. There are some that you quickly understand why they were left off the album ("Someday, We'll Be Together"), alternate versions of songs (a more rocked up "Racing In the Street"), songs Bruce eventually gave to other artists ("Fire", "Talk to Me", "Because the Night" and "Ain't Good Enough For You", which is very similar to a song Bruce worked on with Gary "U.S." Bonds called "This Little Girl Is Mine".) and songs that you wonder why Bruce couldn't find room for on other albums ("Gotta Get That Feeling", "Wrong Side of the Street" and "Breakaway") to name a few.

My one peeve on the outtakes is that you can tell on certain tracks that the vocals were completely redone, redone in spots ("Wrong Side of the Street"-the vocal is much different in a few spots) or in one or two instances it seems as though the entire song was re-recorded (Save My Love).

Overall, though a collection worth having for any Springsteen fan and if you are just into the music, the two-disc outtakes set will be sold seperately as well. Happy listening!

Breakaway-Bruce Springsteen (My favorite from the outtakes with Wrong Side of the Street, Talk to Me and Racing In the Street (alternate) meriting honorable mention.


  1. First, I didn't mean to bury your post. You know I would never do that to Bruce or you.

    Second, I want to get this, but it's like $90. I'm just settling with "The Promise" album. However, your review is making me reconsider.

    Third, How can you bring up Gary "U.S." Bonds and not bring up "Quarter to Three"?

  2. No Quarter to Three was an oversight on my account.

    I think the two-disc outtakes are absolutely worth it. The extras are stuff that people like me love, so I will get it but its not everyone's cup of tea. And the Springsteen camp has even acknowledged that by selling the two discs of outtakes seperately.

    BTW, Bruce is Jimmy Fallon's only guest Tuesday night. He is expected to perform at least one song. No word on if will be a solo performance or if the Roots or the E Street Band will be backing him.