Posts Tagged ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’

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Eight of the finest performances from Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 tour are now available in a limited, collectible box set. This 24-CD set contains all five of the legendary radio broadcasts on the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour: The Roxy in L.A., The Agora in Cleveland, The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, Fox Theatre in Atlanta and Winterland in San Francisco. Rounding out the collection are the second shows in Passaic and San Francisco, plus the December 8th show in Houston, Texas. A limited number of empty boxes are also available to hold previously purchased CDs.

By Erik Flannigan

I’ve written before about the role the Darkness tour radio broadcasts played in the career development of Bruce Springsteen. Broadcast live from the Agora in Cleveland, the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, The Roxy in West Hollywood, and Winterland in San Francisco, those concerts were recorded off air by thousands of people listening at home in 1978. In the years that followed, many wore out their tapes, playing them again and again as the only “official” live Springsteen product until Live/1975-85 was released in 1986.

Through the “magic of bootlegging,” home recordings wound up on illicit vinyl pressings like Piece de Resistance and Live in the Promised LandCopies of those LPs made their way to Europe, which wasn’t visited by the Darkness tour itself, so overseas fans at least got to hear Springsteen on stage. He and the band wouldn’t return to those shores until 1981; for such Bruce-starved fans, those recordings were manna from heaven. Without question, the familiarity fans have with the broadcast recordings of shows like The Roxy and Capitol Theatre cemented their status among Bruce’s greatest performances ever. But what if there were another?

It would be an exaggeration to call Atlanta 9/30/78 “the lost broadcast.” But compared to the other four, which were pressed multiple times on vinyl and CD bootlegs, Atlanta is the least familiar, having no meaningful history on bootleg vinyl and a limited one on CD. Originally broadcast live on radio stations across the Southeast, Atlanta 9/30/78 is the fifth and final Darkness tour transmission released in the Live Archive series. While not as familiar to fans as other ’78 broadcasts, the blistering Atlanta performance more than holds its own and is newly mixed from Plangent Processed, multi-track analogue master tapes. The 23-song show presents a potent core Darkness tour setlist augmented by the yet to be released “Independence Day” and “Point Blank,” plus special additions “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Raise Your Hand” and the only performance ever of James Brown’s “Night Train.”

The home recording enthusiasts alluded to above were certainly more plentiful in the Tri-State area, for the Passaic broadcast, than in the Southeast for Atlanta. Other broadcasts got wider distribution (the Agora show was syndicated to FM rock stations around the country after the fact) or were simply bigger events to begin with (Bruce’s Roxy appearance was the most buzzed-about show in Los Angeles in 1978). On the other hand, Atlanta and the Southeast were more of a development opportunity for Springsteen that year, and legend has it, stormy weather in the region on 9/30/78 caused reception problems for those who did record.

All of which explains why, as fans traded tapes and bought bootlegs in the ’70s and ’80s, the quality of the Atlanta broadcast, if it could be found at all, was inferior to the other four broadcast recordings, hence its outlier status. But one listen to Jon Altschiller’s new mix from Plangent Processed, 24-track analogue master tapes and Atlanta is an outlier no more.

The 9/30/78 set captures the Darkness tour “picked at the peak of freshness,” as the old commercial used to say. It’s like getting a lost episode of Seinfeld, shot but never aired during Season 5. The official release of this Fox Theatre show gives us the chance to fall in love all over again with a spectacular slice of Springsteen ’78.

After a great intro to the stage, the show smashes to a start with “Good Rockin’ Tonight” straight into “Badlands.” Each E Street Band member quickly shows they are in it to win it this night, with first-among-equals Roy Bittan carrying the melodic load with aplomb, as he will throughout the night. “Spirit in the Night” sets the band-fan tenor. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is flawless, and Bruce sings with total conviction — no more so than on a subtle lyric change, replacing “Where nobody asks any questions or looks too long in your face” with, “You can drive all night, and never make it around.”

Sonically, Atlanta offers crystalline clarity. In the stately “Independence Day,” which Bruce introduces as the “flipside to ‘Adam Raised a Cain’,” the level of instrumental detail — from Danny’s glockenspiel to Max’s hi-hat, Garry’s bass to Stevie’s delicate strumming — is breath taking and immersive. It pulls you into what just might be your new favourite version of “Independence Day,” a sentiment you are likely to feel across several Atlanta performances. Yes, the audience is mixed just right, too.

The rest of the first set holds to the same gold standard as we move from a faultless “The Promised Land” to a scintillating, extended “Prove It All Night” that’s as good if not better than any version you’ve heard from this tour — and that’s saying something. 

The same goes for “Racing in the Street.” Listen for a gorgeous and distinct bit of interplay between Danny and Roy around the 2:05 mark. The first set wraps with the peerless pairing of “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland.” It doesn’t get any better than this.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” opens the second half of the show in jolly spirits, and because the fake snow that fell needed to be swept up by stagehands, Bruce and the band vamp by paying tribute to one of Atlanta’s adopted sons, James Brown. They play the Godfather of Soul’s “Night Train” so well, one would think the song was in the set every night of the tour. In fact, this is the only performance ever of “Night Train.”

“Fire” extends the frivolity before the tone turns dramatic via “Candy’s Room.” Danny and Roy again weave around each other in stunning fashion in the long intro to “Because the Night,” which includes a superlative guitar solo in yet another “name a better one” version. The second River preview of the night, “Point Blank,” surely sent anticipation soaring for Springsteen’s next album, with Danny and Roy intricately swirling behind the striking original lyrics.

E Street Band vocals in the “Not Fade Away/Gloria” intro to “She’s the One” have never sounded livelier, the guitar licks never more Link Wray than this terrific extended reading, another reminder of how special it is to re-live such a beautifully recorded document of the tour. “Backstreets” provides a tour de force denouement, with the middle section a Van Morrison-inspired, mind-blowing melange of “sad eyes,” “Drive All Night,” “you lied,” and “we’ve got to stop.” Listening to the Atlanta version will reaffirm everything you love about the song, this tour, and these musicians.

Even venerable “Rosalita” gets an intriguing instrumental introduction more than two minutes long. There are so many moments in Atlanta 9/30/78 that are just a little different from the Darkness shows we know best, and it is all the more compelling because of it.

The traditional but no less exceptional Darkness tour encore of “Born to Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “Detroit Medley” brings us home, and the night ends with one of only eight tour performances of “Raise Your Hand,” far fewer than you’d guess because all five broadcasts are counted among those eight renditions. With the release of Atlanta, the quintet of 1978 broadcasts in the Live Archive series is now complete, representing not only some of the greatest Bruce Springsteen performances of all time, but arguably the greatest live concert recordings in rock history. 

8 Complete Shows On 24 Factory-Pressed CDs.
• 7/8/78 The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA
• 8/9/78 The Agora, Cleveland, OH
• 9/19/78 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
• 9/20/78 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
• 9/30/78 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA
• 12/8/78 The Summit, Houston, TX
• 12/15/78 Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA
• 12/16/78 Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA

Release date February 1st, 2021

Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town': 10 Things You Didn't Know

On June 2nd, 1978, Bruce Springsteen released the album Darkness on the Edge of Town his first since 1975’s Born to Run had made him a big draw, it arrived after a lengthy lawsuit with his former manager Mike Appel where he was unable to enter a recording studio.

With three years on the sidelines because of the lawsuit with Appel an eternity at that time for a musician – Springsteen has said that he felt he needed to reintroduce himself. To make another dense record rooted in rock’s past,  In the three years between Born to Run and Darkness, he’d simply learned a lot and during this time he played some of the best live shows of his career. He spent a great deal of time in court, for one thing; he began listening to Hank Williams and old-time, class-conscious country music. He’d seen the films of John Ford and Howard Hawks and John Huston, and read the novels of John Steinbeck and John Dos Passos that Jon Landau had given him. The concerns of the lower-middle class became the concerns about which he began feeling most passionate, and those things are reflected in his writing, and his writing became more compact and direct as a result.

Although the lyrics didn’t directly reference the suit, his bitterness showed in the songwriting. Gone was the cinematic romanticism of his first three albums, replaced by stark portraits of blue-collar American life that would form the basis of Springsteen’s writing for the next decade.

Darkness On The Edge reached No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart, and the tour, where he and the E Street Band made their first ventures into headlining arenas, The tour solidified his reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in rock n’ roll. Many of its tracks, including “Badlands,” “The Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night” as well as the outtake “Because the Night” have still to this day continued to play an important role in his concerts to this day.

But the 10 songs released on Darkness represented a fraction of the music recorded for the album, with 57 song known titles recorded during the sessions, . Is “Darkness on the Edge of Town” Bruce Springsteen’s best album?.

Several other artists wound up benefiting from his surplus; Southside Johnny, Robert Gordon, Greg Kihn and Gary U.S. Bonds all recorded songs from this period that Springsteen felt didn’t jibe with the album’s bleak mood. But while “Prove It All Night” was the only single , two artists enjoyed massive hit smashes with his Darkness castoffs: The Pointer Sisters went all the way to Number Two with their recording of “Fire” – a song Springsteen claimed to have originally written in 1977 for Elvis Presley and Patti Smith scored the biggest hit single of her career with “Because the Night,” which reached  Number Five in the U.K charts.

Smith, who was recording her album Easter with Jimmy Iovine at the same time the latter was working on Darkness, took the unfinished “Because the Night” and added a verse inspired by her long-distance relationship with future husband Fred “Sonic” Smith. “I knew that I wasn’t going to finish the song, because it was a love song, and I really felt like I didn’t know how to write them at the time,” Springsteen recalled in The Promise, explaining his decision to give the song to Smith. “A real love song like ‘Because the Night,’ I was reticent to write; I think I was too cowardly to write at the time. But she was very brave. She had the courage.”

Darkness is the first Springsteen album where he sounds like the Springsteen whose legend was secured around this time. Springsteen finally found a way to match the yearning of youth with a grounded sense of adult experience, and it happened toward the end of a period of broad excess when the genre so badly needed it. The production is a wonder of amalgamation, too: He melded the West Coast’s spacious, very polished style with the power and force of Middle American and punk rock.

By the summer of 1977, the E Street Band – then consisting of guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, pianist Roy Bittan, organist Danny Federici, bassist Garry Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg  had become a road-hardened unit capable of bending almost telepathically to any of Springsteen’s musical whims, so it made perfect sense for Springsteen to record the songs for Darkness live in the studio with his band. Unfortunately, Springsteen’s endless search for the ultimate sound completely counteracted any efficiency that might have otherwise resulted from such an arrangement. Unhappy with the sounds they were getting at New York’s Atlantic Studios, Springsteen moved the recording sessions to the Record Plant, where he, co-producer Jon Landau and engineer Jimmy Iovine spent interminable weeks trying to capture the perfect drum sound.

Every song on the first side has a corresponding track on the second in the same sequence. “Badlands” and “The Promised Land” are about America, “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Factory” are about father-son relationships and so on.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is consistently among my top album from Springsteen’s catalog. I think the excruciating editing process he went through with this album speaks volumes about the focus and quality of the story he was telling at that time. What is the best song on the record?

As the opening song, “Badlands” not only sets the tone for everything that follows, it’s also a hell of an introduction to the album with those massive drums barreling into the picture. Every song on the album, more or less, stems from “Badlands.”

 “Racing in the Street,” because it turns the bombast of what came before completely inside out. If Born to Run was about the desperate desire to be free of your old life, your hometown and every preconceived notion, this album – and, my goodness, this song – was about what happens to those who were left behind. Even the expected early-career “car songs” tend to feature people lost in a cul-de-sac of regret. “Racing in the Street” is my favorite song by anybody. it was the perfect anthem  cruising around town, only realizing later that it had this other meaning. How anyone can comprehend how Springsteen wrote that last verse, given that he hadn’t yet been in a serious relationship. “Racing in the Street” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” The story he tells in the former is so specific and evocative that it really haunts the listener. That’s why it’s not even surprising when the couple from “Racing” ages a decade or two, and reappears, as I see it, in “Darkness.” Springsteen couldn’t get them out of his head any more than I could, and the stunning outro gives the listener time to contemplate their fate. It also remains phenomenal to me that early versions of the song didn’t even include the little girl he drove away.

“Racing in the Street” is a great narrative and a great song. The lyrics speak of desolation, lost chances and the things the desperate do just to live, both in the world and with themselves. Springsteen gives those words life and breath, and puts his voice in the middle of it all; there’s no separating it from either the story or the telling of it. The music is stark and brooding — it’s a keyboard song on a guitar album, and Roy Bittan and Danny Federici refuse to leaven the mood as they might on other songs. Bittan’s piano figure that runs through the song is every bit the match for the lyrics, and then Federici wraps an organ countermelody around the piano. … God, it gives me chills to this day.

The outtakes found on Tracks and The Promise show him writing very different material than what was released on the final album, the best tracks, sound like more chapters to the Darkness story. While the outtakes were informative, in particular for completists, they only confirmed Bruce Springsteen’s brilliance as an editor Darkness on the Edge of Town still sounds perfectly balanced. He was writing all these great songs rooted in ’60s pop and R&B like “Talk to Me,” “Save My Love” and “Ain’t Good Enough for You.” The finished product only reflected one side of him. And I like the idea of Jon Landau whispering in one ear about the art of the rock album and Steven Van Zandt in the other about more hit singles.  It gave me an even greater appreciation for his creative vision. He went through an agonizing period of writing and editing to arrive at the final product that was true to the feelings he wanted to evoke. He writes fantastic songs, and there are quite a few in those outtakes, but they didn’t fit the theme. When you have so many songs, and great ones at that, those are tough decisions to make. Dilute the album’s message or let the songs languish in the vault? But I’ve always felt that one of Springsteen’s gifts to his fans is that he has allowed us to look back at his editing process. I’ve always appreciated a peak at his rewriting, and how he’s not afraid to hold onto a a piece of music or lyric when he doesn’t think he’s done justice to it yet.

I’d read interviews with him in the past talking about how he’d write something like “Fire” or “Rendezvous” or “Bring on the Night” and have to set them aside, because they didn’t fit the tone of the work he was recording. To hear some of those songs on Tracks and The Promise was great, The overarching thing I take away from them (and from the outtakes from The River) was just how mind-blowingly prolific a songwriter he was at the time. Like, two-albums-a-year prolific.

Almost every other song on Darkness sounds epic, both in the lyrics and the music. “Factory” is a quiet, personal ode to his father that scales down the album’s bigger themes. If replaced with “The Promise” which is way closer to what Darkness is all about. Plus, they’re both slower cuts, so it would fit into that missing slot perfectly.

The other songs tend to feel like they were left off for a reason because of differences in production values, because they are clearly unfinished or (quite often, actually) because upbeat tracks like “Save My Love” and “Gotta Get That Feeling” just don’t fit thematically. That said, the brilliantly ambiguous “Breakaway” might just have made the cut.

“The Promise” belongs on there, but you couldn’t find anything better that’s thematically similar to go in its place (“The Brokenhearted,” “City of Night”?). It could have another kinda love song, “Don’t Look Back.”

I do think “The Promise” would have made a great addition. It’s among his most heartbreaking, and fits well with the tone of the record. In addition “Racing in the Street” I’d surely go with the one he chose for Darkness, but the sped up recording on The Promise really hits the spot sometimes.

“Hearts of Stone,” is another great song which Springsteen gave to Southside Johnny, but which also was a standout cut on the Tracks box.

In 1975, the album Born to Run catapulted Bruce Springsteen from a regional critical favorite to a worldwide megastar.

But after Born to Run‘s release, a legal battle with his former manager, Mike Appel, kept Springsteen from making a follow-up album for nearly two years. Springsteen spent his time touring extensively across the U.S. with the E Street Band. When he returned to the studio, in 1977, he brought with him dozens of songs that he had written during his exile.

Those studio sessions produced Springsteen’s fourth album, 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town. It was musically very different from Born to Run — and drew thematically from the punk-rock movement, the Vietnam War and Springsteen’s own reflections about wanting to stay connected to his roots.

But many of the songs Springsteen wrote for that album were never released.

Darkness on the Edge of Town came out of a huge body of work that had tons of very happy songs,” Springsteen told actor Ed Norton at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “It was all music that we recorded, we wrote and made a very distinct decision to not use.”

Twenty-one songs Springsteen originally recorded for Darkness on the Edge of Townare now being released for the first time as part of a collection called The Promise. Here, we feature some of Springsteen’s conversation with Norton at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the two men talked about the making of Darkness,as well as a new documentary about the album, titled The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town.’

Many of the songs cut from Darkness on the Edge of Town are being released in the box set The Promise, which comes out tomorrow.  The box set also includes a remastered version of Darkness, 2 CDs of songs that were recorded but not used for the album, along with the documentary, The Promise, and DVDs of other live performances.

Bruce Springsteen performs shortly after he recordedDarkness on the Edge of Town.

Jim Pozarik/AP Photo

Interview Highlights

On Darkness In Music

“Some of the greatest blues music is some of the darkest music you’ve ever heard. And I had maps. Obviously, Dylan had come when I was 15, and obviously I listened to his music first, and his music contained a lot — I used to say when I heard ‘Highway 61,’ I was hearing the first true picture of how I felt and how my country felt. And that was exhilarating. Because I think 1960s small-town America was very Lynchian. Everything was there, but underneath, everything was rumbling. … I think what Dylan did, was he took all that dark stuff that was rumbling underneath, and I think he pushed it to the surface with irony and humor, but also tremendous courage to go places where people hadn’t gone previously. So when I heard that, I knew I liked that, and I was very ambitious, also.

On The Timing Of Darkness’ Release

“I think Darkness came out of a place where I was afraid of losing myself. I had the first taste of success [with Born to Run], so you realize it’s possible for your talent to be co-opted and for your identity to be moved and shifted in ways that you may not have been prepared for. I was the only person I’d ever met who had a record contract. None of the E Street Band, as far as I know, had been on an airplane until Columbia sent us to Los Angeles. … It was a smaller, smaller world. And we were provincial guys with no money. So there was this whole little street life in Asbury Park, and New York was a million miles away. Localism, as a movement, hadn’t occurred yet in music. So there was nobody saying, ‘I need to see what those bands in New Jersey are doing.’ It was a very different time. But the good part about it was you were very, very connected to place and you had a real sense of place. And it was unique, the place where you lived and where you grew up.”

On Where The Tracks On Darkness Originated

“No one knows anyone else who has any money. They only know you. And at the time, even though we’re making a lot of records, we’re not making much money, because we didn’t know how to make records, or because I signed a lot of bad deals and it all went away. My desire to not get disconnected from my parents and their history and a lot of the people I cared about; I said, ‘These things aren’t being written about that much. I’m not sure. And those were the topics I decided to take on for that particular record, not so much out of any social consciousness, but as a way of survival of my own inner life and soul.”

On Musical Influences

“I don’t know if I know anyone, with the exception of the early inventors of rock music [who wasn’t influenced by something]. And even then, the kind of study that had to go on — like the gospel background in Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano playing, and it’s completely informed with church and honky-tonk — and you have to study that stuff. I don’t mean study in the sense of literal schooling, but you’re drawn to things that make you seek out what they’re about. That’s studying. And whether you’re drawn to gospel music or church music or honky-tonk music, it informs your character and it informs your talent.”

On Great New Music

“If you’re good, you’re always looking over your shoulder. I mean, that’s the life — that’s the gun-slinging life. It’s like, ‘Yes, you are very fast, my friend, but there’s some kid in his garage tonight, and just about 10 minutes from now…’ You can’t make any mistake about it. The record and documentary show that [that album] was carved meticulously and consciously out of a big chunk of stone over a long period of time, with a huge amount of ego and ambition and hunger, hopefully for the right things.”


2 VERSIONS WERE RECORDED OF THIS AMAZING SONG. Recorded at The Record Plant on October 14, 1977. V1b includes a horn section (Cruz-Manion-Pender-Rosenberg-Spengler) that was recorded in 1998 (not 1977) and then added to create the end product on Tracks. However this E Street Band base recording (i.e., without the 1998 horns) was used as the base recording for Southside’s original 1978 album track, with Southside merely replacing Bruce’s vocal with his own and adding in his own horn players at the time.

According to comments by Darkness sessions recording engineer Jimmy Iovine about 30 songs were recorded to a completed state and available for inclusion on the Darkness album. There were an unknown number of additional songs not fully completed. What “not fully completed” means is uncertain. At this stage 32 songs have been officially released (the ten on the original album, four on Tracks and 18 on The Promise) but several of these have modern vocal takes, and their 1978 state remains unknown. There is also an unknown amount of not fully finished recordings. The list below contains 54 songs from the period that likely encompass all or nearly all of the 30 songs Jimmy Iovine was alluding to, as well as most of the ones never completed.
The audio from the Darkness sessions that has surfaced unofficially over the years has been of rather disappointing quality. During the late 1970s and 1980s most of it was of very weak quality. However over the past 20 years lower generation audio specimens have emerged and the CD-era boots of this audio have been a noticeable improvement over their vinyl era counterparts. Yet in many cases it has become apparent that there were flaws in the way the original source individuals taped these studio sessions. There certainly appears to have been some hidden “fly-on-the-wall” type tapings. The other problem is that much of the leaked audio is of early studio workouts of these songs, rather than later, fully realized renditions. Most of the leaked studio material emanates from the June-October 1977 period, so the later November 77-January 78 sessions may include several other songs that remain undocumented, even after the release of The Promise.
The 2010 release of The Promise is somewhat of a double-edged sword. We now have a slightly better understanding of the Darkness sessions, as well as access to several tracks that were previously unknown to us such as “Save My Love” and “Breakaway”. However, the wonderful notebook facsimile included in the box set lists titles of many songs (see Part Four below) that are totally new to us. It is unknown how many of these songs actually exist; many may not be songs at all – just titles. Jimmy Iovine mentions in the making of documentary that Springsteen wrote seventy songs for potential use on “Album IV”. It remains a possibility that even the seventy songs mentioned by Iovine is a conservative estimate of Springsteen’s true output at this time. A case of three steps forward, two steps back?

V1 recorded at Atlantic Studios in August 1977. V2 is more fully realized. Up-tempo, pop-flavored. The officially released V3 contains a modern vocal take, replacing the unfinished vocal found on the ‘Deep Down In the Vaults’ recording. V1 and V2 were bootlegged under the title “Get That Feeling”. Takes recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 11-12 and 30, 1977.

V1 recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 1, 1977. This is a very rough early take with an uneven mix and some seriously off-key harmony vocals by Van Zandt. V2 was recorded September 27, 1977 at The Record Plant, officially released (unmolested) on The Promise in 2010.

come on let´s go tonight. 2 version
V1 is a rough workout, probably from either July 2 or 13 at Atlantic Studios, with the melody complete but with embryonic, alternative lyrics. V2 is the final released take, titled “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)”. Also recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 23-24 and 30, and at The Record Plant on September 8, November 2, 7-8 and December 9 and 29, 1977. The early, work-in-progress title was “Let’s Go Tonight”. Aspects of the music and lyrics can also be found in “Factory”. Bruce would return to the song in April 1981 during a break in The River Tour, recording a solo acoustic demo. Soon after, he borrowed the first two lines of Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny”, combined it with “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)”, and created “Johnny Bye-Bye”. The composition was premiered live in May 1981 and recorded in the studio in 1982 and 1983.

V1 apparently dates from August 1977 at Atlantic Studios, although studio logs indicate takes were only recorded on June 30, 1977. V2 likely dates from around the same time and is more developed but still features some bluffed lyrics. The logs say a song called “New Spanish” was recorded two weeks later on July 13; one assumes that is “Spanish Eyes”. The officially released V3 has a modern vocal, and potentially some modern band elements. A great song that shares several lyrics with “I’m On Fire”.

Recorded at The Record Plant, perhaps on September 27, 1977. The circulating audio is marred by the vocal being buried in the mix. The very strange working title for this was “Say Sons”. Short rocker.

Note: V1 is from Atlantic Studios in June 1977 with the lyrics not finished. V2 (recorded a month or so later) is less embryonic but still with some bluffed lyrics. It was soon after (late September 1977) that fellow NJ poet/rocker Patti Smith, who was also recording at The Record Plant, became aware of the tune via Jimmy Iovine (who was engineering both artists). The not-quite-finished song was handed to Smith, who fine-tuned the lyrics and released the song in March 1978, three months before the Darkness album was issued – and it was a worldwide hit. V3 was recorded September 27, 1977 at The Record Plant. This take was broadcast on Sirius / E Street Radio, is more realised but still not the finished item. The officially released V4 uses Smith’s lyrics and is a modern vocal take.

The 9 versions recorded provide a good insight into how Springsteen develops some songs through the course of numerous sessions, with all three being distinctive songs.
Candy’s Boy: V1 is a summer 1976 band rehearsal in Bruce’s house in Holmdel, NJ and is included on the Thrill Hill Vault DVD/Blu-ray on The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set. V2 and V3 are from Atlantic Studios in June and August 1977 respectively and contain the familiar lyrics but utilize a different melody. V4 is longer, and includes an extra instrumental section. The officially released V5 (from June 1977) bears a strong resemblance to V3. Logs show takes of “Candy’s Boy” were recorded on June 3, 6 and 27, August 24 and September 2, 1977). Early alternative title was “(I Will Forever Be) Candy’s Boy”. Included on an October 1977 album cover mock-up.
The Fast Song: V6 is the familiar “Candy’s Room” melody, with no lyrics. V7 and V8 feature nondescript, bluffed lyrics (all three from August 1977 at Atlantic). Takes of “The Fast Song” were recorded June 6, 9-10, 13-14, 20 and 24, 1977 at Atlantic, with further work undertaken on August 24 and September 1-2. Lyrics found at the beginning of “The Fast Song”, “I wish God’s angels would tear this town down / and blow it into the sea”, are also found in some performances of the “Backstreets” interlude from 1977’s Lawsuit Tour (most famously on March 25 in Boston), as well as some early versions of “Something In The Night”, e.g. February 13, 1977 in Toronto. Original or alternative title of “The Fast Song” may have been “God’s Angels”, one of the song titles found in The Promise book.

V1 is from September 1977 at The Record Plant and is a rough workout with lyrics very bluffed. V2 is more developed, with nearly finished lyrics and is likely to date from shortly after. V2 also contains phrases also found in “Frankie”, “Prove It All Night”, and “Badlands”, most notably “For the ones who once had a notion, it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive”. Takes recorded on September 26-28 and November 4 + 7, 1977. Mixed in November 1997 for the Tracks project, but not used. Also known in collector circles as “All Night Long”. The audio quality on Scorpio’s ‘Loose Ends’ is the best.

V2 officially released on The Promise, recorded October 14, 1977 at The Record Plant. Bruce’s working title was “Taxi Driver”. Also known as “Taxi Cab” and “City At Night”. Shares a line with 1988’s “All That Heaven Will Allow”.

Recorded at The Record Plant on October 14, 1977. This is fully finished take but the circulating audio is slightly marred by the vocal being buried in the mix. The working titles were “Bo Diddley Rocker” or “Bodo Rocker

At least four takes recorded at The Record Plant on September 12, 1977 and played once on the Darkness Tour on December 28, 1978 in Pittsburgh, PA. Re-recorded for The River. A song titled “Rocker” was registered with the US Copyright Office in January 2011 but information on the copyright claim suggests this is actually “Ramrod”. It was registered because a short audio snippet was included in The Promise: The Making Of Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the documentary included on the box set.

An unknown composition before the official release of The Promise. Features Jon Landau on drums, Bob Chirmside (Bruce’s road manager between ’75 and ’81) on bass and a modern horn section of Barry Danielian (trumpet), Stan Harrison (tenor sax), Dan Levine (trombone), Ed Manion (baritone sax) and Curt Ramm (trumpet). Early working title may be “Jon’s Jam”, as found in the studio logs. A lone take was recorded June 14, 1977 at Atlantic Studios. The connection is Jon Landau, who provides the drums.

someday we´ll be together. 2 version
V1 recorded at The Record Plant in September 1977. This is only the backing track – Bruce’s vocal is missing (assuming there was one). Takes recorded at The Record Plant on September 26 and 29-30, 1977. Bootlegged with the title “Someday Tonight”. V3 is officially released on “The Promise” with a probably completely modern vocal take. The track features backing vocals by the Alliance Singers (Tiffeny Andrews, Corinda Crawford, Michelle Moore, and Antoinette Savage), who contributed choir vocals on The Rising album, in addition to Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell.

one way street. 2 version
V1 Recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 17, 1977. This is a complete take but it’s clearly not a final take. V2 officially released on The Promise with what appears to be a modern vocal. It is also likely that the horns were re-recorded as well. Original alternative title may have been “Dead End”.

Talk to me.
Note: Takes recorded at Atlantic Studios on July 8 and 13, either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 5, 9, 24, 26 and 30, and at the Record Plant on October 14, 1977. V1 (missing Bruce’s vocal) is from Atlantic Studios in August 1977. V2 is the officially released take from The Promise, and features some original Jukes/Miami Horns members: Rick Gazda on trumpet, Stan Harrison on tenor sax, Ed Manion on baritone sax, Bob Muckin on trumpet, and Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg on trombone. It is uncertain whether the horns are contemporary to the original recording, or a modern addition. The latter seems more likely. Bruce donated this composition (and “Hearts Of Stone”) to Southside Johnny in spring 1978 for use on his upcoming third album. According to Max Weinberg, as with “Hearts Of Stone”, the Darkness session E Street Band backing track was utilized for Southside Johnny’s album.

V1 recorded at Atlantic Studios June 1977. V2 fades in, repeats the last verse and is likely to emanate from the same time period. Takes were recorded June 24 and 27, and July 1, 1977. Premiered live during the Darkness Tour with a spoken introduction: “This was a song that we recorded live in the studio about two years ago, the beginning of the summer and it was originally gonna be on Darkness, but it was too weird so we left it off”. Re-recorded for The River album.

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, probably very early in the sessions, perhaps June 1977. The audio take is very unfinished, with bluffed lyrics. No complete take is circulating from the Darkness sessions, although this song (like several others from these sessions) was re-recorded in 1979-80 during sessions for The River and that version has been issued on Tracks.

A Darkness On The Edge Of Town outtake recorded in Oct-Dec 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY. Its working title was CRAZY ROCKER, but it’s also known among collectors under the title IT’S ALRIGHT. The only circulating recording of this song is of a nearly finished take but the audio quality is not great. It’s messy and full of indecipherable, bluffed lyrics and yelled out key changes. It can be found on Deep Down In The Vaults (E Street Records), The Genuine Tracks (Scorpio), and The Definitive Remastered Darkness Outtakes (The Godfather Records) bootlegs. This is an early (but entertaining) take with bluffed lyrics and called out key changes. “Crazy Rocker” was a working title, and it has also been known under the title “It’s Alright”. Does not specifically appear in the studio logs, but it may be “New Rocker”, recorded at either Atlantic or The Record Plant on August 9, 1977.

Three slightly different mixes of the same performance. Takes recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 5 and 15, and at The Record Plant on September 12 and December 10-12, 1977. V1c is slightly faster, and officially released on The Promise, albeit as a hidden bonus track. Considered and rejected for Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Tracks and The Essential.

It is uncertain from which period of the Darkness sessions these two versions emanate from – probably from The Record Plant. V2 (which is in very weak sound quality) is sometimes listed under the alternate title of “I Wanna Be Wild” but these are clearly the same song with just alternate work-in-progress lyrics. A take of this song with the title “I Want To Be Wild” was recorded at the Record Plant on November 11, 1977. “Don’t Say No” was registered with the US Copyright Office in November 2010, suggesting that it may have been a candidate for inclusion on The Promise.

Studio logs indicate that Springsteen worked on this song at only two sessions, June 16 at Atlantic and August 24, 1977 at The Record Plant. V1 is definitely from that June session, V2 is probably also from June (an image of a tape inlay dated June 17 found in the Darkness box set book lists two takes), but could be from the August session. If V2 is from June, then the August 24 take does not currently circulate amongst collectors. V2 has a different opening and is shorter, lacking Clarence’s saxophone solo. Note that although some bootleg CDs (such as Godfather’s ‘The Unbroken Promise’) include two versions of the eight minute “Drive All Night”, it appears that they are actually the same recording. Listed on some early vinyl boots by the title “Sad Eyes”. Bruce re-recorded the vocal track during The River sessions, but apparently used the Darkness session backing music for the officially released version found on The River.

V1 dates from June 3, 1977, V2 from just over a month later, July 12, 1977. Both recorded at Atlantic. Bruce re-recorded the song five years later during the Born In The USA sessions and that later version (on Tracks) is far superior to either of these renditions.

Recorded at The Record Plant on October 27, 1977. This is a completed take and one of the few that has surfaced from the sessions with the vocals mixed correctly. Also known as “New BoDo Rocker” in the studio logs. Bruce incorporated elements of the song into the middle of “She’s The One” during the latter stages of the Darkness tour.

Recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 1, 1977. Takes also recorded on July 1 (also at Atlantic), as well as September 12 at The Record Plant. This is complete but clearly not a final take. Bruce re-recorded it during the River sessions and it’s that version which is found on Tracks.

Recorded at The Record Plant, probably September 26-27, 1977. The sound quality of this particular piece of audio is weak. Also recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 15. Further work undertaken at The Record Plant on November 4 + 11 and December 9. Short-listed for inclusion on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, included as it was on an October 1977 album cover mock-up. Bruce re-recorded this for release on The River.

The only circulating audio is apparently from Atlantic Studios in June 1977, although the only appearance in the logs is October 14 at The Record Plant. An embryonic take with very unfinished lyrics and a lovely melody. Bruce’s work-in-progress title was “The Ballad”.

Unknown composition until officially released on The Promise. Recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 1, 1977, but modern vocals have been added, along with some modern band elements. Features a modern horn section of Barry Danielian (trumpet), Stan Harrison (tenor sax), Dan Levine (trombone), Ed Manion (baritone sax) and Curt Ramm (trumpet) and backing vocals by the Alliance Singers (Tiffeny Andrews, Corinda Crawford, Michelle Moore, and Antoinette Savage), who contributed choir vocals on The Rising album, in addition to Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell.



The promise: Considered for the album, but ultimately rejected due to the personal lyrics. “It was a song about defeat, and it was self-referential, which made me uncomfortable,” said Springsteen in 2010. “I didn’t want it to overtake the album, which, in the end, was not my personal story. I wanted ‘Darkness’ to be completely independent of that. So I left it off. But I remember saying to myself, ‘This is something I can sing later.’ The distance really helps it now.” Premiered live on August 3, 1976 at Red Bank’s Monmouth Arts Center in a solo piano arrangement. It would be performed that way throughout 1976 and 1977, however all circulating studio takes are with the band. V1 is from June or July 1977 (takes were recorded June 30 and July 1, 7-8 and 13, 1977). V2 is from August 1977 (takes recorded August 24 and 30 at Atlantic Studios). Both V1 and V2 feature slightly different lyrics. V3 is probably from The Record Plant in the September-October 1977 period (perhaps the September 28, 1977 performance recorded in the studio logs) and is the completed recording that Bruce rejected for Tracks. He instead opted to record a new version (issued on 18 Tracks) that pales in comparison to the stunning V3. V4 (also recorded August 1977) is the official release included on The Promise CD, featuring a string arrangement by Ken Asher. Interestingly, V4 lacks the “…dead ends in the two-bit bars” and “…backseat of a borrowed car” lyrics from the final verse, both of which are present in all other circulating studio takes. V5 is a studio rehearsal recorded at The Record Plant in (probably early) January 1978 and is included on the Thrill Hill Vault DVD/Blu-ray on The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set. V6 was recorded after this rehearsal, on January 12, 1978, and remains in the vaults.

The Complete 1978 Radio Broadcasts (15CD Box Set)

The Complete 1978 Radio Broadcasts (15CD Box Set)
by Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band

• 15 CDs • Over 200 tracks

• 24 page full colour booklet with rare photos and detailed liner notes

• The entire original KMET, WMMS, WNEW, KSAN and over twenty more, FM radio broadcasts from explosive 1978 live performances at The Roxy Theater on July 7th, The Agora Ballroom on August 9th, The Capitol Theater on September 19th, The Fox Theater on September 30th and The Winterland Ballroom on December 15th.

• Professionally re-mastered with background liners and rare archival photos.

By the time Darkness On The Edge Of Town was released in June 1978, Bruce Springsteen was firmly established as America’s most exhilarating rock performer. He and the E Street Band relentlessly toured the country from May of that year until January 1st 1979, playing 115 intense shows that have become the stuff of legend. This incendiary new 15-disc set gathers five exceptional performances that were broadcast on FM radio between July and December, and finds the Boss at the peak of his powers, tackling a huge range of material with unstinting energy and passion. Presented with copious background notes and images, it’s an essential addition to any serious Springsteen collection.

  • bs780809_reels
  • New from the Bruce Springsteen Archives, transferred from the stereo reel-to-reel tapes via the Plangent Process and mastered at Gateway Mastering.  HD files are 24 bit / 192 kHz.
  • I found the seven Agora tape reels in a box that had been returned from the Rock’n Roll Hall Of Fame.  The tapes were part of an exclusive Springsteen exhibit “Asbury Park to the Promised Land”.  It wasn’t until the request to release this show came up that the tapes needed to be found.  Not at Sony, not at Thrill Hill Archives, not at the archiving company.  Last known location was the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame.  They informed me what box to look in and there they were, marked with the original indication of speed, tracks and show date.I had the tapes delivered to Plangent Processes for evaluation and transfer, if they seemed to be of adequate quality.  After comparison to other copies of this show, this was the best version and potentially the original master tapes. Plangent transferred all seven reels using their unique process, which corrects any speed variations for accurate playback.  This eliminates the wow and flutter usually found in the playback of any analog tape.  This new transfer to the digital domain was done at 192 (samples per second) with 24 bit resolution.  The resulting digital files were sent to Gateway Mastering for evaluation and mastering, as was done to the Box Set Volume 1, recently released to critical acclaim.  The resulting new master will give a renewed vigor to the already exciting show.
  • Just over a month after Bruce Springsteen launched his archival concert project, the E Street Band rocker has updated the download service with one of the most in-demand gigs from his legendary “Darkness on the Edge of Town” jaunt: An August 9th, 1978 performance from Cleveland, Ohio’s Agora Theatre and Ballroom.The Agora show was originally simulcast in its entirety by local rock station WMMS to celebrate that radio station’s 10th anniversary, The concert kicks off with a rendition of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” before Springsteen and the E Street Band deliver a setlist packed with Darkness tracks mixed with covers like “Gloria,” “Not Fade Away” and concert closer “Twist and Shout.” The Agora show also features the unique Darkness tour second set opener “Paradise By the ‘C’.”As the concert was broadcast over the radio, bootleg copies of the gig have circulated for years, giving it a near-mythological reputation among fans. However, this archival release marks the first time the performance has been officially released. The concert offers pristine sound quality thanks to a stereo mix cultivated from seven 1/4-inch reels  that Springsteen’s concert archivist Toby Scott unearthed after repeated requests to release the concert “I found the seven Agora tape reels in a box that had been returned from the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame,
  • The Agora concert is available to download now at, while CD copies of the live album will start shipping January 23rd 2015.

Bruce Springsteen’s prolific nature as a songwriter has often been at odds with his meticulous attitude towards constructing an album, and while Springsteen is known to regularly feature new songs in concert, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily going to appear on his next album. “Don’t Look Back” was a song that first began popping up in Springsteen’ s live sets during his three-year lawsuit-motivated recording layoff between Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town, and along with “The Promise”, another tune that first appeared around this time, the song quickly achieved a near-legendary status among Springsteen fans. However, when Darkness On The Edge Of Town was finally released in 1978, neither song made it into the final sequence. In the case of “The Promise”, as strong as the song was, it also summed up the themes of the album so well that it would likely have seemed almost redundant in context, or made the rest of the album seem superfluous. The trouble with “Don’t Look Back” was a bit trickier; a song of uncommon passion from one of the most fiery performers in rock, “Don’t Look Back” was a tale of defiance against long odds and all but hopeless circumstances, and was cut from the same cloth as Darkness’s two side-openers, “Badlands” and “The Promised Land”. However, while “Don’t Look Back” was as good if not better than either of those songs, it lacked the anthemic quality that made “Badlands” a great overture, as well as the hard-won optimism that “The Promised Land” brought to the disc at a crucial moment in its sequence. In short, “Don’t Look Back” was a superb song that didn’t quite fit Darkness On The Edge Of Town, even though it was so strongly of a piece with the album’s other songs, and while Springsteen and The E-Street Band cut a crackling version of it during the Darkness sessions, the recording first reached fans on a bootleg album called Don’t Look Back (which also featured a live take of “The Promise”, as well as the long-unreleased Three Mile Island protest number “Roulette”). However, in 1998 “Don’t Look Back” finally gained an authorized release when it closed out the first disc of Springsteen’s ambitious box set of “songs that got away”, Tracks.


with so much written about this band especially over their performances at this years SXSW festival in Austin Texas,  more known for their blasts of Noise Punk Pop this is a little more melodic  and shown a little reverance to one of Bruce Springsteens songs from the Darkness On The Edge Of Town album track, still lots of feedback but wth a little more restraint.

Beautiful Haunting and Captivating and one of the most devastating songs in Springsteen’s songbook. Inspired by characters in New Jersey, the song narrator is obsessed by cars and takes refuge in his vehicle at night with his baby who cries herself to sleep at night, the closing piano piece at the end is just magnificent.

From the title track of the 1978 album, there is so much power in this song and performance, Friday nights and fast cars. Won and Lost on the edge of town. Some Folks are born into a good life, other folks get it anywhere anyhow.

An outtake from the Darkness On The Edge of Town session in 1977 with shimmering reverb laden guitar and a sole tambourine and shakers from Clarence Clemons, it starts slowly and builds a vocal that radiates a sexual tension, This is a track that could have been easily left on the finished cut and stands against anything on that album