Friday, August 27, 2010

Darkness On The Edge Of Town #3

I do believe that Darkness On The Edge Of Town stands shoulder to shoulder with Born To Run. It's a pity it doesn't get much recognition when it comes to the greatest rock & roll albums ever made. Because in truth, it is. And a re-release has been long overdue. After reading the press release, it's suffice to say that this box set is probably the biggest of its kind when it comes to single album reissues, in terms of creativity and originality. Unlike so many (supposedly remastered) reissues we've seen over the past few years, this is certainly not another money-making scheme. It's not aimed at the casual fan, and Bruce & co. knows it. The hardcore Springsteen fanbase can be a pretty bitchy and demanding bunch, and there are always gonna be complaints with every new release. But seriously, I don't see how even the most hardcore fan will not be satisfied with this box set. From the looks of it, it's almost perfect.

Just think about it; if someone prolific like Neil Young could put together something massive like Archives, why can't Bruce Springsteen do likewise with his early work? Perhaps Neil's releasing that incredible box set might have spurred Bruce to do something similar. And the Boss has done right this time. For the first time since 1998's Tracks, outtakes and songs not previously released officially are present on this Darkness set, and quite a number of these can't be found on the heavily bootlegged Lost Masters Series. So basically it's gonna be new music to my ears. One song in particular, Save My Love, is up for free listening on the official website. It's quite obvious that Bruce recently recorded new vocals over it, but the music is evocative of the Darkness era. I won't be surprised if he does the same treatment on the other songs. Another interesting tidbit -- different versions of The Promise were recorded, including (originally) a full band slow ballad, and then a solo piano remake 30 years later. It's one of Bruce's greatest songs of his career, and I'm pleased that the 70's version is finally seeing the light of day.

Now the DVDs - What's surprising was that footage was shot during the making of Darkness, so I got pretty high expectations for the documentary. If it's any good as Tom Petty's recent one about Damn The Torpedoes, then we fans are in for a real treat. The Darkness show will be one from Houston. Now I'm no expert on which shows were officially filmed during that tour, but listening to the bootlegs (Passaic, Winterland, Atlanta, Cleveland) from '78, it's safe to say this Houston show will be pretty kick-ass. Just look at the setlist -- we'll finally get to see the long piano intro to Prove It All Night, and of course, The Fever :) Not only that, the 'rarely opened' Thrill Hill vault will reveal more treasures from the legendary New York City and Phoenix shows.

What I'm most excited about is the '09 performance of the Darkness album. As great as the original songs sound, I've always thought the live versions were much better, and wished that Bruce and the E Street Band would re-record Darkness. The best part was they did it in Asbury Park, but without an audience. There must be a rationale for doing that. They could've chosen to release that Darkness album show at Giants Stadium, but personally I would prefer to see that audience-less performance at the Paramount. Maybe add in some film-noirish lighting to intensify the mood. I'm very much looking forward to hearing those solos on Prove It All Night and Adam Raise A Cain, that extended outro on Racing In The Street (not to mention Roy's piano on Factory), and Bruce's howling on Something In The Night and Streets Of Fire.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Darkness On The Edge Of Town #2

This just in.....the news we've been waiting two years for. Let me compose myself for a few days before putting down my thoughts here!

Columbia Records To Release Bruce Springsteen's 'The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story' Nov. 16

Box Set Includes 3CD/3DVD Package Of Remastered Album, Never-Before-Seen Studio & Live Footage, 80-Page Notebook, 21 Previously-Unreleased Songs, And An Extraordinary Documentary Film That Will Debut At The Toronto Film Festival Sept. 14 And On HBO Oct 7

Package Features Nearly Six Hours Of Footage, Including Classic 1978 Houston Performance, And More Than Two Hours Of Audio

Columbia To Simultaneously Release 'The Promise' Double CD Complete Songs From Darkness On The Edge Of Town's Lost Sessions

Columbia Records will release Bruce Springsteen's 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' on Nov 16. The Deluxe Package comprises over six hours of film and more than two hours of audio across 3 CDs and 3 DVDs. The media contents are packaged within an 80-page notebook containing facsimiles from Springsteen's original notebooks from the recording sessions, which include alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details, and personal notes in addition to a new essay by Springsteen and never-before-seen photographs. Containing a wealth of previously unreleased material, 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' offers an unprecedented look into Springsteen's creative process during a defining moment in his career. 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' will additionally be released as a 3CD/3 Blu Ray disc set.

The set will be available as 'The Promise,' an edition which consists of only the unheard complete songs on two CDs or four LPs, along with lyrics and the new essay by Springsteen.

The previously unheard song "Save My Love" and an excerpt from the documentary will be streaming at

The Deluxe Package includes 'Darkness on the Edge of Town,' digitally remastered for the first time.

1. Badlands
2. Adam Raised A Cain
3. Something In The Night
4. Candy’s Room
5. Racing In The Street
6. The Promised Land
7. Factory
8. Streets Of Fire
9. Prove It All Night
10. Darkness On The Edge Of Town

"'Darkness' was my 'samurai' record," Springsteen writes, "stripped to theframe and ready to rumble…But the music that got left behind was substantial." For the first time, fans will have access to two discs containing a total of 21 previously-unreleased songs from the 'Darkness' recording sessions, songs that, as Springsteen writes, "perhaps could have/should have been released after 'Born To Run' and before the collection of songs that 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' became."

Highlights include the extraordinary rock version of "Racing in the Street," the never-before-released original recordings of "Because the Night," "Fire," and "Rendezvous," the supreme pop opus "Someday (We'll Be Together)," the hilarious "Ain't Good Enough for You," the superb soul-based vocal performance on "The Brokenhearted," the utterly haunting "Breakaway," and the fully orchestrated masterpiece and title song "The Promise." All 21 songs have been mixed by Springsteen's long-time collaborator Bob Clearmountain. According to long-time manager/producer Jon Landau, "There isn't a weak card in this deck. 'The Promise' is simply a great listening experience."

1. Racing In The Street ('78)
2. Gotta Get That Feeling
3. Outside Looking In
4. Someday (We'll Be Together)
5. One Way Street
6. Because The Night
7. Wrong Side Of The Street
8. The Brokenhearted
9. Rendezvous
10. Candy's Boy

1. Save My Love
2. Ain't Good Enough For You
3. Fire
4. Spanish Eyes
5. It's A Shame
6. Come On (Let's Go Tonight)
7. Talk To Me
8. The Little Things (My Baby Does)
9. Breakaway
10. The Promise
11. City Of Night

The Deluxe Package also features "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town,'" a documentary directed by Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny. The ninety-minute film combines never-before-seen footage of Springsteen and the E Street Band shot between 1976 and 1978—including home rehearsals and studio sessions—with new interviews with Springsteen, E Street Band members, manager Jon Landau, former-manager Mike Appel, and others closely involved in the making of the record. Advanced word on the documentary is so strong that it was invited to debut at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival on September 14 and will make its television debut on HBO on October 7.


In addition, the set features more than four hours of live concert film from the Thrill Hill Vault, including the bootleg house cut (the footage that appeared on-screen at the concert) from a 1978 Houston show, and a 2009 performance of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' in its entirety from Asbury Park. The special performance in Asbury Park was shot in HD without an audience and successfully recreates the stark atmosphere of the original album.

1. Badlands
2. Adam Raised A Cain
3. Something In The Night
4. Candy's Room
5. Racing In The Street
6. The Promised Land
7. Factory
8. Streets Of Fire
9. Prove It All Night
10. Darkness On The Edge Of Town

1. Save My Love (Holmdel, NJ 76)
2. Candy's Boy (Holmdel, NJ 76)
3. Something In The Night (Red Bank, NJ 76)
4. Don’t Look Back (NYC 78)
5. Ain't Good Enough For You (NYC 78)
6. The Promise (NYC 78)
7. Candy's Room Demo (NYC 78)
8. Badlands (Phoenix 78)
9. The Promised Land (Phoenix 78)
10. Prove It All Night (Phoenix 78)
11. Born To Run (Phoenix 78)
12. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (Phoenix 78)

1. Badlands
2. Streets Of Fire
3. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
4. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
5. Spirit In The Night
6. Independence Day
7. The Promised Land
8. Prove It All Night
9. Racing In The Street
10. Thunder Road
11. Jungleland
12. The Ties That Bind
13. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
14. The Fever
15. Fire
16. Candy's Room
17. Because The Night
18. Point Blank
19. She's The One
20. Backstreets
21. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
22. Born To Run
23. Detroit Medley
24. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
25. You Can't Sit Down
26. Quarter To Three

It was 35 years ago today...

As far as I'm concerned, it's still the greatest album ever conceived. It's the reason why I really started listening to music. Everything you wanted to know about life is basically in those eight songs. I don't listen to the record as much as I used to years ago. It's one of those records in which you keep all to yourself, not wanting to share it with others because you know it's so personal and sacred. Five years ago, I found that the 30th Anniversary box set cost a measly 30 bucks. Personally I felt insulted. Back then I'd gladly pay a 100 bucks for it.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Eight months I've waited, and I'm so relieved it's actually happening this year. Latest word is that they'll play at least two shows in each city. I never thought I'll be going back to Perth again for another concert, but attending the last U2 show of 2010 is something special. It's gonna be the best weekend ever!! Now for the ticket-buying anxiety to start taking over...

UPDATE: It's OFFICIAL. Live Nation and U2 broke the good news on Sunday. The band has posted a short video on their website about the tour down under. Bono also spoke of debuting some new stuff in December. Oh yeah, and Jay-Z is gonna open all the shows :)

General sale will happen on Fri, Sep 3. Ticketmaster already has a dedicated page for the Melbourne and Perth shows. Ticket prices range from 40 to 350 dollars, with GA priced at 100. presale will be begin this Thursday!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Croweology - The Black Crowes

This year will be their 20th year together. The greatest southern rock band since The Allman Brothers has just released new versions of their old songs as a way of thanking their fans, before they go on a long hiatus. If that weren't enough, they've also sold this double-disc set for the price of one. These new takes are recorded live in studio, and are mainly acoustic. I'm usually skeptical of bands doing unplugged versions, but this isn't like Bon Jovi doing that terrible acoustic album of their hits. On the other hand, Croweology ain't no half-assed remake of greatest hits.

Ok I gotta admit, I don't own all the Crowes' stuff, so about half of the original songs I've not heard before. There's plenty of the signature kick-ass boogie, soul, blues and gospel, and even some extended jamming on songs like Ballad In Urgency, Wiser Time and Thorn In My Pride. She Talks To Angels is slowed down quite a bit, this time with pedal steel and violins, but it still works. Chris Robinson's vocals does wonders as usual. My personal favorite, Hotel Illness, gets a very different treatment -- totally stripped down campfire-like version with some killer harp work. Check this shit out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire

In a recent article I read in the New York Times, frontman Win Butler said "I’ve been moved by albums a lot more than I’ve been moved by singles, and we’re an album band." In an era of single-song downloads, album bands are rare to come by. The Arcade Fire, once declared as indie darlings after the release of their fantastic 2004 debut Funeral, have made a triumphant return to the music scene, with their third album and their best, The Suburbs. It's a lengthy but wonderfully conceived concept record that has the majority of the music press salivating over the past few weeks. Unlike Funeral and 2007's Neon Bible where there were more standout tracks (Wake Up, Rebellion, Power Out, Keep The Car Running, Intervention, No Cars Go), The Suburbs is meant to be listened to in its entirety from start to end.
ItalicThis time round, the band tackles personal issues -- growing up, starting a family, modernity, alienation, loss of innocence, finding your purpose in life. And they do so by painting vast sonic landscapes, incorporating an assortment of musical styles. The opening title song starts out mellow, fueled by a playful country-tinged piano; it's already a rapid changing world and it has Win declaring "I want a daughter while I'm still young, I wanna hold her hand, And show her some beauty, Before this damage is done". It builds to a soft dramatic finish, then goes seamlessly into Ready To Start. Personally I like all the song transitions, and it's little moments like these that make the album work.

Another one 'moment' is in Modern Man, where just a sudden slight change in time signature in the verses can totally change the mood. It's a sad song -- the modern man here is just like the man from Jackson Browne's The Pretender. On a lighter subject, Rococo pokes fun at all those modern kids, so-called hipsters who use "great big words that they don't understand". The line "They build it up just to burn it back down" could also easily be directed at fans of indie music, whatever that means. But the sadness continues with Empty Room, with some frenzied violin playing at the start, with Win and his wife Régine Chassagne harmonizing together about loneliness -- "Said your name, in an empty room. Something I would never do".

The prominent guitars on songs like City With No Children, Suburban War and the (post-punk) Month Of May give them a more rock & roll feel. But
the music reaches an incredible climax towards the end in Sprawl II, my favorite song on the album. And may I dare say it's possibly the best song they've done so far. Régine contributes some haunting vocals, backed by a catchy synth-pop disco beat, singing about how "dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains". There's a sort of intimate grandeur to these songs, something that wasn't really present in their previous two records. Trust me, The Suburbs get better and better with each listen. Like many records from the 60's and 70's, this too will stand the test of time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Darkness On The Edge Of Town #1

Finally some good news from the Boss front:

Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau Management, and Columbia Records are working on completing a new package related to 'Darkness on the Edge of Town,' which will include the new Thom Zimny film "The Promise: The Making of Darkness On The Edge Of Town." Further details will be announced when they are finalized.

"The Promise: The Making of Darkness On The Edge Of Town" will premier September 14 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

UPDATE: HBO will air the Bruce Springsteen docu "The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town" in October.

From director Thom Zimny, who has worked with Springsteen on several projects, film captures the tumultuous time Springsteen had between "Born to Run" and "Darkness," his fourth album.

For much of that 1975-78 time period, Springsteen was entangled in a lawsuit with his former manager Mike Appel that prevented him from recording any songs. Doc will offer never-before-seen footage, including home rehearsals.

So it looks like the long overdue Darkness box set will be released in the coming months. My only wish is for a DVD of a full E Street Band show from 1978.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Almost Famous

I finally got hold of the extended version of my favorite music film; my first time watching the director's cut. The extra scenes were pretty fun to watch, especially those brief ones with Lester Bangs, played by the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But the real treat was watching the film with the director's commentary. Cameron Crowe (with his mom) had plenty of true fascinating stories to tell about his encounters with rock royalty back in the early 70's (he toured with The Who, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, The Eagles). One interesting thing I discovered was that there were actually quite a few Neil Young references in it (i.e. see Times Fade Away album cover). This is one film I always find myself watching over and over again. Made by a true music fan for the true music fan. At the end of the day, there is one line from Almost Famous that has always stuck with me, and I believe I've mentioned it here before: To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Rock & Fuckin' Roll in every sense of the word -- the Slash concert is the best gig I've seen all year. Just straight up kick-ass back-to-basics Rock & Roll music. The legendary guitarist was backed by an amazing tight band, featuring Myles Kennedy on vocals. Man he hit all those high notes perfectly -- he really could have passed off as Axel Rose. We were treated to a good mix of Slash's solo stuff and Velvet Revolver tunes. As for the Guns & Roses stuff, it was a good thing the right songs were chosen -- Night Train, Civil War, Rocket Queen, Paradise City, Sweet Child O' Mine. My favorite part of the show was Slash doing a traditional blues song, followed by a God-awesome cover of The Godfather Theme. He's an incredibly soulful player, and he makes the guitar sound so beautifully melodic amidst all those fast shredding notes and riffs. This was just as good as going to a GNR show, perhaps even better.