Bruce Springsteen’s album, Darkness on the Edge of Town marked the end of a three-year gap between albums brought on by contractual obligations and legal battling with former manager Mike Appel. Although the album did not produce high charting singles it nevertheless remained on the charts for 97 weeks. A steady seller in Springsteen’s catalogue, it has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA.
Although slightly less enthusiastic than for Springsteen’s previous album Born to Run, reviews for Darkness on the Edge of Town were unanimously positive. Critics notably praised the maturity of the album’s themes and lyrics. It remains one of Springsteen’s most highly regarded records by both fans and critics and several of its songs are staples at Springsteen concerts.
In September 2010 a documentary film chronicling the making of Darkness was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Quoting Springsteen as saying “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy – I wanted to be great”, reviewer Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger commented: “For many fans, that long journey pulled onto the Turnpike here.” Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it at 150 on their list of the greatest albums of all time.
The cover shot and inner sleeve photo were taken by photographer Frank Stefanko inside Stefanko’s Haddonfield, New Jersey, home. Springsteen says, “When I saw the picture I said, ‘That’s the guy in the songs.’ I wanted the part of me that’s still that guy to be on the cover. Frank stripped away all your celebrity and left you with your essence. That’s what that record was about.”
A reissue box set was released in November 2010. This had initially been planned for 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of the original album’s release, but was delayed, presumably due to Springsteen’s numerous other 2008 projects. By January 2009, Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, was saying the project was still in the works: “When we can find six weeks to sit down and finish it I’m sure we will.”
A documentary entitled “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” was produced for the box set. The documentary premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2010 and aired on HBO on October 7, 2010.
During the Darkness sessions, Springsteen wrote or recorded many songs that he ended up not using on the album. This was to keep the album’s thematic feel intact, even at the expense of not having hits on it. According to Jimmy Iovine, Springsteen wrote at least 70 songs during the sessions and 52 of those songs were recorded with some not fully completed. As of 2011, 33 of those songs have been officially released.
Some of the unused material became hits for other artists, such as “Because the Night” for Patti Smith, “Fire” for Robert Gordon and The Pointer Sisters, “Rendezvous” for Greg Kihn, “This Little Girl” for Gary U.S. Bonds, and several tracks for Southside Johnny (including much of the Asbury Jukes’ Hearts of Stone album). Other songs such as “Independence Day”, “Point Blank”, “The Ties That Bind”, and “Sherry Darling” would turn up on Springsteen’s next album, The River, while still others became bootleg classics until surfacing on Springsteen’s compilations Tracks, 18 Tracks and The Promise. The Promise features 22 tracks from the Darkness sessions, many with modern vocal takes and added instruments and was released in November 2010 compilation (and also included in a box set). Some of these Darkness outtakes were performed by Springsteen in concert during his 1978 tour and later.
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.
1. “Badlands” – 4:01
2. “Adam Raised a Cain” – 4:32
3. “Something in the Night” – 5:11
4. “Candy’s Room” – 2:51
5. “Racing in the Street” – 6:53
1. “The Promised Land” – 4:33
2. “Factory” – 2:17
3. “Streets of Fire” – 4:09
4. “Prove It All Night” – 3:56
5. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” – 4:30
Limited edition Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness, less than 130 copies left.
Focusing on Springsteen’s Darkness on The Edge of Town 1978 album and tour.
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