Bruce Springsteen's latest dive into his impressive vault has been out for more than a week, but it often takes time for me to digest offerings from my favorite artists. I was a Springsteen fan before Bruce was BRUUCCEEE. I purchased "Greetings from Asbury Park when it came out my senior year in high school and when I heard that he was the next "Bob Dylan" I had to give it a listen.
Asbury was a remarkable album for a first effort from a new artist. The man who discovered Dylan, Tom Hammond, tried to make Bruce the second coming of Bob. Thank God Bruce and John Landau found each other because Springsteen's follow up "The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" left me cold. The arrival of "Born to Run" signaled the arrival of the "real" Bruce and the rest we say is history.
Except I grew tired of "Born" and then Springsteen's legal entanglements pulled him off my radar. By the time he came out with "Darkness on the Edge of Town" I had dedicated myself to Dylan, The Dead, and Neil Young and for some reason I dismissed Springsteen. It would take me the better part of a decade to rediscover his greatness, ironically, when he put out two CD's considered weak by many of his fans and critics, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town."
The best part of this rediscovery was diving back into the treasure trove of music he had produced through the 1980's, though I stayed away from "Born in the USA" because it had over-saturated the radio airwaves. I didn't buy the disc until last year and again I was amazed by its greatness.
Now Bruce has brought us "The Promise." The depth of incredible material he decided to leave off "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is stunning. And don't shortchange yourself, buy the big box set. The lives performances are riveting. My favorite piece is a version of "Racing in the Streets" that Bruce rejected in lieu of the version that appeared on "Darkness." "Darkness" is such a great album on its own but to realize the creativity that poured out of him during his legal enforced exile is staggering.