Category: bruce springsteen

On this day in music history: October 17, 1980 – “The River”, the fifth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Steven Van Zandt, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from March 1979 – August 1980. Following the release of his previous album for “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” (recorded after forced three year layoff, due to legal issues with former manager Mike Appel) and the extensive tour, Bruce Springsteen wastes no time composing material for his first album of the new decade. Block booking himself and The E Street Band into The Power Station in New York City, initially the project is to be a single LP titled “The Ties That Bind”, and is originally scheduled for a Fall 1979 release. Always known as a prolific songwriter, Springsteen ends up writing more than fifty new songs for the album, and spending a year and a half in the recording studio. The material is a mixture of exuberant upbeat rockers and serious darker songs reflecting on relationships, and the personal and economic hardships many are facing during the late 70’s and early 80’s recession. The album is expanded to two LP’s, paring it down to twenty tracks. Considered a risky move to release a double album at a time when the music industry is experiencing a major downturn in business, CBS Records releases it as Bruce wishes it to be. The album is proceeded by the single “Hungry Heart” (#5 Pop), a song that Springsteen writes and intends to give to the Ramones to record. His manager Jon Landau convinces him to record it himself. Also featuring background vocals by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (aka “Flo & Eddie”) of The Turtles, the song is an instant smash, becoming “The Boss’” first US top ten single. The album is heralded as an artistic and commercial triumph, becoming Springsteen’s most successful to date. It spins off an additional single with “Fade Away” (#20 Pop), several other tracks including “Out In The Street”, “Independence Day”, “Sherry Darling”, “Stolen Car”, “Cadillac Ranch”, and the title track all become fan favorites and staples of Springsteen’s epic live performances. “The River” is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl in November of 2014, initially issued in a box set collection, though the vinyl LP release is made available individually in April 2015. A four CD/three DVD (or two Blu-ray discs) box set titled “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection” is released to commemorate the thirty fifth anniversary of the landmark album. The box set is released on December 4, 2015, and is proceeded by release of the outtake track “Meet Me In The City”, which Springsteen and The E Street Band perform on Saturday Night Live on December 20, 2015. “The River” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 9, 1987 – “Tunnel Of Love”, the eighth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Chuck Plotkin, it is recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City, A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, Kren Studio in Los Angeles, CA and Thrill Hill East (Springsteen home studio) in Rumson, NJ from January -July 1987. Coming over three and a half years after the mammoth success of the “Born In The USA” album and world tour, the follow up album differs greatly from the previous release. It is largely a solo effort by Springsteen, with The E Street Band featured on only a few tracks. Standing in stark contrast to “Born In The USA”, the tone of the album is very introspective and somber, with many songs having to do with the breakdown of, and foreseeing the eventual end of his first marriage to actress Julianne Phillips. Nineteen songs are recorded for the album, before being pared down to the final twelve. The outtakes including “Lucky Man” and “Two For The Road”, surface as the B-sides of the first two singles released from the album. The songs “The Honeymooners”, “The Wish” and “When You Need Me”. “Part Man, Part Monkey” are released years later on the “Tracks” box set, with “Part Man” being re-recorded during the sessions for “Human Touch” in 1990. The original version remains unreleased, along with “Walking Through Midnight”. It spins off four singles including “Brilliant Disguise” (#5 Pop) and the title track (#9 Pop). The music video for “Disguise” directed by Meirt Avis (U2), breaks from convention. The stark black & white clip features the camera firmly fixed on Springsteen (with no edits) while playing guitar and singing live to the original instrumental track. Springsteen supports the album with the “Tunnel Of Love Express” tour during 1988. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and 180 gram vinyl on May 18, 2018, as part of the box set “Bruce Springsteen: Album Collection Vol. 2 – 1987 – 1996. "Tunnel Of Love” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 25, 1975 – “Born To Run”, the third album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel and Jon Landau, it is recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY, and The Record Plant in New York City from January 1974 – July 1975. After the poor initial sales of his first two albums “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ” and “The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle”, the critical third album is Springsteen’s last shot to prove his commercial viability or be dropped by his label Columbia Records. Springsteen and his band spends over fourteen months in the studio laboring over the album until he feels it is perfect. Even upon completion of the album, Springsteen is still unsure and nervous about its chances in the commercial marketplace. His doubts are quelled after he leaks an early version of the title track to rock radio. The positive response it receives stokes demand for the album among the musicians loyal fan base, and finally attracts the attention of radio. Upon its release, “Born To Run” is a commercial and artistic triumph for the New Jersey born rocker, spinning off two singles including the title track (#23 Pop), with several other songs on the the album (“Thunder Road”, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", “Backstreets”, “She’s The One”) becoming rock radio staples, and highlights of Springsteen’s epic live concert performances. The albums’ iconic cover photo (taken by photographer Eric Meola), features Bruce holding his trademark ‘53 Fender Esquire while leaning on saxophonist Clarence Clemons shoulder. The picture is taken during a three hour long photo shoot, and is selected out of 900 frames shot by the photographer. The cover becomes most of the most imitated and parodied images in rock history.  "Born To Run" is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2003. In 2005, “Born To Run” is reissued as a three disc box set to commemorate its 30th anniversary. It includes a remastered version of the original album and two DVD’s. The first being an extensive documentary about the making of the landmark album titled “Wings For Wheels”, which wins a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video in 2007. The third disc is a complete and previously unreleased live concert filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in November of 1975, and additional footage from a show filmed at Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in May of 1973. The album is remastered again in 2014 on CD and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP. “Born To Run” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 9, 1972 – Bruce Springsteen officially signs with Columbia Records. Having performed in bars and clubs in his native New Jersey for several years, the young singer/songwriter auditions for legendary A&R man John Hammond whose previous discoveries include Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, George Benson, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin. Now under contract to Columbia, the label puts Springsteen in the studio in July to begin work on his debut album “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ”. The first album initially sells only 25,000 copies, with the follow up “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle” not performing much better. Eventually, Springsteen’s recording career takes off with his breakthrough album “Born To Run” in 1975. Over his four decade career, Bruce Springsteen comes to be regarded as one of the preeminent singer and songwriters of all time, selling over one hundred twenty million records worldwide, winning twenty Grammy Awards (to date), two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award.

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On this day in music history: June 4, 1984 – “Born In The USA”, the seventh studio album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt, it is recorded at The Power Station and The Hit Factory in New York City from January 1982 – March 1984. Springsteen’s previous album, “Nebraska” released in 1982, featuring stark and spare acoustically driven songs recorded on a four-track cassette recorder, receives great critical acclaim but is perceived as a commercial disappointment following the success of “The River” in 1980. For the follow up, Springsteen goes about crafting an album that preserves his artistic integrity, while reaching the largest listening audience possible. The resulting album is a massive critical and commercial success, spinning off seven top 10 singles in the US (tying with Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814) including “Dancing In The Dark” (#2 Pop), “Glory Days” (#5 Pop) and the title track (#9 Pop). Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band support the album with a massive worldwide tour running from June 29, 1984 until October 2, 1985. The albums iconic cover photo featuring a shot of Springsteen wearing a pair of well worn blue jeans with a red baseball cap sticking out of the right back pocket is taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair), and becomes an enduring and much imitated image. The red baseball cap had belonged to the father of Springsteen’s friend Lance Larson. Larson gives the cap to Bruce after his father’s death. Springsteen uses the cap on the album cover in tribute to his friend’s late father. “Born In The USA” is also the first compact disc to be manufactured in the US by CBS Records’ Terre Haute, IN pressing plant. “USA” also wins Springsteen his first Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male for “Dancing In The Dark” in 1985. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and 180 gram vinyl in 2014, with both configurations replicating the original vinyl LP packaging, including the inner sleeve and lyric sheet insert. “Born In The USA” spends seven weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 15x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 2, 1978 – “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”, the fourth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Steven Van Zandt, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City from October 12, 1977 – March 19, 1978. Issued as the long awaited follow up to “Born To Run”, it comes after a three year long forced hiatus from recording while Springsteen extricates himself from his contract with former manager Mike Appel. In spite of not being able to record, Springsteen is extremely prolific during the down time, writing seventy songs and recording at least fifty two in consideration for the final album. Among the songs written for the project but are left unreleased, are given to various other artist to record. Those songs include “Because The Night” (Patti Smith), “Fire” (The Pointer Sisters), “Rendevous” (Greg Kihn Band) and “This Little Girl” (Gary U.S. Bonds). The album is well received upon its release, with Springsteen and the E Street Band touring exhaustively in support of it. It spins off the singles “Badlands” (#42 Pop) and “Prove It All Night” (#33 Pop), spending nearly two years on the charts. Like “Born To Run”, “Darkness” is also remastered and reissued as a deluxe three CD + three DVD (or Blu-ray) box set titled “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story” in 2010. The box contains twenty one previously unreleased outtakes from the recording sessions, with other outtakes including “Don’t Look Back”, “Hearts of Stone”, “Iceman” and “Give the Girl a Kiss” having been previously released on the “Tracks” box set in 1998. Sixteen other songs recorded during the sessions remain unreleased to the present day. The set also includes an eighty page spiral bound book featuring reproductions of Springsteen’s own notebooks filled with lyrics and other song ideas tied to the conception of the album. It also includes a documentary film detailing the making of “Darkness”, which receives its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2010, two months before the deluxe edition arrives in record stores. The set wins a Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package in 2012. The album is also released as part of “Bruce Springsteen – The Albums Collection Vol. 1” in 2014" on CD and vinyl. The CD and 180 gram vinyl pressings are also issued as a stand alone releases in 2015. “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Bruce Springsteen and Ronnie Spector circa 1975

On this day in music history: May 3, 1984 – “Dancing In The Dark” by Bruce Springsteen is released. Written by Bruce Springsteen, it is the ninth single release for the rock music icon from Freehold, NJ. Immediately after the release of “Nebraska” in 1982, Bruce Springsteen begins work on his next album. For the first time since “Born To Run”, he feels pressure to deliver a hit. Always a prolific writer, he composes dozens of songs during this time. In spite of this, his manager Jon Landau tells him that he hasn’t come up with a big hit single. Springsteen responds, “Look, I’ve written seventy songs. You want another one, you write it”. Eventually, Bruce tries to comply with Landau’s request. Returning to his hotel, the musician initially comes up with nothing. Frustrated, he puts pen to paper and begins writing the lyrics, “I get up in the evening, and I ain’t got nothin’ to say. I come home in the morning, I go to bed feeling the same way…”. Another lyric “you can’t start a fire without a spark” brings it all into focus, and the rest falls into place. Ironically, “Dancing In The Dark” is literally inspired by trying to write a hit. Playing it for Landau the next day, he concurs that his artist has indeed come up with the goods. The last song written and recorded for “Born In The USA”, it is recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City on February 16, 1984 with The E Street Band. Anchored by Max Weinberg’s powerful drumming, another stand out element are the lead synthesizer lines played by keyboardist Roy Bittan. When the single hits the radio one month ahead of the album, there is minor grumbling from some long time fans who feel it is “too commercial and slick”. It hardly matters as it quickly becomes a smash and wins “The Boss” a huge new audience of fans. It is backed with the non-LP B-side “Pink Cadillac”, becoming fan favorite in its own right. It later is a major hit for Natalie Cole in 1988. “Dark” is also accompanied by a now iconic music video directed by Brian DePalma. The clip is filmed at the first shows of the “Born In The USA Tour” in St. Paul, MN on June 28-29, 1984. The video features Springsteen pulling actress Courteney Cox out of the audience to dance with him on stage. Entering the Hot 100 at #36 on May 26, 1984, it looks as if Bruce will finally land a #1 pop single, but fate has other plans. Released just two weeks later, Prince’s “When Doves Cry”, leaps over Springsteen for a five week stay at #1 on July 7,1984. “Dark” has to settle for four weeks at #2 beginning on June 30, 1984. The song is also remixed by Arthur Baker and released as a 12" single, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Club Play chart. The single also wins Bruce his first Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male in 1985. “Dancing In The Dark” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 31, 1992 – “Human Touch”, the ninth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin and Roy Bittan, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from September 1989 – March 1991. The first of two albums simultaneously released by Springsteen, it begin with three instrumental tracks written shortly after the E Street Band parts ways. With keyboardist Roy Bittan along with Springsteen’s wife, singer and guitarist Patti Scialfa being the only hold overs from the band, Springsteen begins work on those songs. As he continues to write material, Springsteen recruits a number of musicians such as Randy Jackson (bass), Jeff Porcaro (drums) and original E. Street band member David Sancious (keyboards) to provide support in the studio. Though Springsteen completes the recording of “Human Touch by the early Spring of 1991, he postpones its release when he begins work on what becomes Touch’s companion piece "Lucky Town”. The album receives largely mixed reviews from critics, and an equal reception from fans, feeling it is too much of a departure from his previous work. It spins off two singles including “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” (#68 Pop), and the title track (#16 Pop). Initially given a limited release on vinyl in 1992, the album is remastered and reissued as a 180 LP in 2018. It is issued as part of the box set “Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996”, and as a stand alone release. “Human Touch” debuts and peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 31, 1992 – “Lucky Town”, the tenth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Chuck Plotkin, it is recorded at Thrill Hill Recording in Rumson, NJ, and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from September 1991 – January 1992. The second of two albums simultaneously released by the prolific songwriter and musician, it is the result of Springsteen coming up with additional material written during a break in the recording of “Human Touch”, with the recording completed in a relatively brief four months. It features Springsteen playing most of the instruments with additional musical support from Steve Miller Band drummer Gary Mallaber, and bassist Randy Jackson (“American Idol”). While it receives a slightly better reception from critics and fans, most feel that releasing two separate albums at the same time is “excessive” and would have been better if Springsteen had taken the best songs from both and made them a single album. Initially given a limited release on vinyl in 1992, the album is remastered and reissued as a 180 LP in 2018. It is issued as part of the box set “Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996”, and as a stand alone release. “Lucky Town” debuts at its chart peak position of number three on the Billboard Top 200 behind its companion release, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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