Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's worth every cent.

Well, let me mention that Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists of all time, and Darkness On The Edge Of Town is probably my favorite album by him. But the box set is really worth the bucks if you love the album like I do. Here's what the deluxe version contains:  first of all, the album remastered.  Bruce has never allowed a remastering of his catalog, other than Born To Run which got the box set treatment a few years ago.  Two more discs contain all songs that didn't make the album - this collection is called The Promise, and is available seperately as well. And there are some great things on that, including Bruce's previously unreleased studio versions of "Because The Night" and "Fire."

One DVD (or blu-ray disc) features the documentary on the making of the album which really enhances your appreciation for the record (much like the doc in the Born To Run box set did). Another disc shows a stripped down version of the E Street Band performing the album, in order, to an empty theater.  It's Bruce, Little Steven Van Zandt on guitar, Gary Tallent on bass, Roy Bittan on piano, Clarence Clemons on sax and Max Weinberg on drums with Charlie Giordano on organ. Basically the guys who played on the record, plus Charlie sitting in for the late Danny Federici.  No Nils, Patti or Soozie, no backing singers. It's a lean, mean, rock album. The performances on this disc, beautifully shot by Thom Zimmy (who also shot and directed the documentaries, and most of Bruce's video stuff in general) show how well the music has aged, and how well the band has aged.  This was shot a few months after the last tour ended. Hopefully it's not the last thing they do together. The disc also features archival footage of the band from '78. And another disc features a full concert from the Darkness tour.

The package is a replica of Bruce's notebook from the era. It really feels voyeristic going through all of this sometimes. But what I learned from it is that, on top of everything else, Bruce has great instincts. Yes, there are great songs on The Promise, but none of them would really fit in on Darkness. Yes, "Because The Night" is one of the best songs he ever wrote... but the truth is, Patti Smith's version is better. "Fire" is awesome, but The Pointer Sisters did it better! All the extra stuff on this box set just proves how perfect Darkness was without anything more than those ten songs! And still, going through all this stuff is a great trip. I imagine Bruce's next move will be a new album (I'd bet it will be without The E Street Band) before he hits his vaults again. But I hope we don't have to wait five years for The River box set (or ten for Nebraska!).

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