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.