Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Promise on The Promise

The Promise - Bruce Springsteen (2010)
Oh, where to start? :-)
A friend of mine emailed me the other day: “Saw Sunday Times, ad for Bruce S.
album coming out or is out called : THE PROMISE, What is UP with THAT!!!!!!!!!!????????????”. I explained to her that my station and blog’s name came from a Bruce Springsteen song that, at the time I started this station, had only been released on a compilation CD. I used the name because it represented so much of what my station was about. There has always been lots of Bruce on my station and The Promise could have easily been an alternative title to Darkness. I remember thinking, back in 2002, about the promise of radio and how it always ended up disappointing me (great stations never seem to last in Southern California). Most important though, it was a title that only a Springsteen fan would totally get. It was just rare enough to make it stand out. So much for that. Okay, on to the CD...
Let me start by saying that the box set is amazing. The whole thing is a replica of Bruce’s notebook from that time. I have just skimmed the DVD’s briefly, but a big fan of Bruce’s will want them. The remastering of Darkness on the Edge of Town is excellent. If you listen to music with a real sound system (you’re probably not going to notice on your IPod) you will notice the clarity and tightness of the sound over the original CD release.
So, let’s get to the meat of the package. There are two discs that are just titled “The Promise”. They are 21 of more than 60 songs that did not make the cut when Darkness was released. But these are not just outtakes. At the time Bruce was going for a certain sound for his LP and no matter how good the song was, if it didn’t fit, it was out. Great songs like “Because the Night” and “Fire” were given away to other artists (Patti Smith and Robert Gordon respectively). Bruce also loved to mix and match lyrics with melodies until he found the right fit. Songs like “Candy’s Boy” morphed into “Candy’s Room” and “Spanish Eyes” turned into “I’m on Fire”. There are other wonderful nuggets that just got lost over the years like, “Save My Love”.
Bruce could have called this set, “The River Prequel” because the style on most of these songs is much lighter than Darkness and they would have easily fit in on “The River”. But outside of the songs he gave away, the best of the rest ended up on “The River”. It is hard to complain, though, because this is the most exciting batch of music to come from Bruce in many many years. Even so, I love the piano only version of “The Promise” from the “Tracks” CD over this version. And “Racing in the Street (‘78)” is interesting, but doesn’t hold a candle to the Darkness version.
Should you buy this CD? It is really for the big Springsteen fans; a valentine in November. But there are so many good songs here, it is hard to believe that others won’t find this enjoyable; although they may want to just buy the CD and pass on the box set. Excuse me now. I’ve got to get back to watching the videos.

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