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Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge Of Town Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.25
Lyrics 9.75
Production 9.25
Creativity 9.25
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 94%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.56
Musicianship 7.56
Lyrics 7.56
Production 7.56
Creativity 7.56
Lasting Value 7.56
Reviewer Tilt 7.56
Average: 76%
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Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Reviewed by: Thomas Nassiff (05/16/11)
Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Release Date: June 2, 1978
Record Label: Columbia Records

Following up Born To Run is something that seems like a monumental task, but given the pressure Bruce Springsteen experienced in earlier parts of his career, it probably didn't seem like such a tall mountain to climb. When Springsteen released Born To Run, Columbia Records basically treated it as the 25-year-old's last chance to write something that could make them some money. Luckily, Springsteen churned out one of the most fantastic records of all time, launching himself into stardom as a household name and a worldwide presence. Need further evidence as to his importance other than his extensive world touring after the record? On Oct. 27, 1975, both Time and Newsweek put Springsteen on their respective covers, with Time calling him "Rock's New Sensation."

The 1978 follow-up to Born To Run was Darkness On The Edge Of Town, a hard-hitting, ten-track album that showed Springsteen's progression as a musician. This time, Springsteen had a different kind of pressure, and following up a phenomenal record might have been a relief compared to the negative energy associated with the Born To Run sessions when he was essentially writing to save his career. Springsteen and The E Street Band kick off Darkness in killer fashion, with the dominating "Badlands." Springsteen has always made his mark on opening songs, and "Badlands" proves to still be a phenomenal live song. Clarence Clemons' saxophone parts in the track are some of his E Street Band highlights, and the lyricism is predictably incredible: "All men wanna be rich / Rich men wanna be king / And a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything / I wanna go out tonight / And show them what I've got."

"Candy's Room" gave fans something different from The Boss. Whereas most of Springsteen's early work is full of weaving storytelling and drawn-out musicianship, "Candy's Room" is an under-three-minute track that was one of Springsteen's catchiest at the time - second to probably only "She's The One." The guitar solo in the bridge is to-the-point, and it's about as rock'n'roll is anything can be. "Candy's Room" also kicks off the most important chunk of Darkness, as it is followed by "Racing In The Street" and "The Promised Land."

"Racing In The Street" is a piano-led ballad that got a good amount of attention in live shows following the release of Darkness but was put on the shelf by Springsteen until more recent tours. While alternate versions are better than the album version, the song still has great imagery to it and is one of the best low-key Springsteen tracks. Meanwhile, "The Promised Land" made its way to become one of the more celebrated tracks in The Boss' catalog, as many diehards I've met proclaim it as their favorite song. The lyrics here are worth noting as well, as Springsteen smoothly delivers, "I've done my best to live the right way / I get up every morning and go to work each day / But your eyes go blind, and your blood runs cold / Sometimes I feel so weak I just wanna explode / Explode and tear this whole town apart / Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart / Find somebody itching for something to start." Later in the song, we're hit with another great prechorus: "Gonna be a twister to blow everything down / That ain't got the faith to stand its ground / Blow away the dreams that tear you apart / Blow away the dreams that break your heart / Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted."

In typical Springsteen fashion, the last two songs on the record deliver a shock as well, and the one-two punch of "Prove It All Night" and the title track just make you want to flip your record over and start again from the beginning. Springsteen's flailing vocals in the title track provide one of my personal favorite moments from The Boss, and the guitar line in the track is tough to beat.

As interesting as Darkness is as a whole, it's also extremely interesting to look back at the material that didn't end up being used for the record. In order to keep the theme of the album intact, Springsteen scratched some songs that actually went on to become well-known singles for other artists - "Because The Night" for Patti Smith, "Fire" for Robert Gordon, and "This Little Girl" for Gary U.S. Bonds are a few examples. Still other songs would wind up on the double-disc release of The River.

Darkness On The Edge Of Town would be the best record for a lot of artists, but not for Bruce Springsteen. While the record isn't as good as Born To Run, it was extremely important for the group that the record wasn't overlooked. It certainly led to some different times with double-disc release of The River, which is why the first four Springsteen records are where I'd recommend any prospective fan to begin their journey into The Boss' life work.

Notable Fact: Ranked No. 151 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Recommended If You LikeBorn To Run.
Follow Me On TwitterI work down at the car wash, where all it ever does is rain.
Bare Essentials1. 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
Produced By: Jon Landau, Run Time: 43 minutes
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars, what else do you give this?
Displaying posts 1 - 13 of 13
04:52 AM on 05/16/11
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cburton92's Avatar
Great review!

this is my favourite springsteen album.
05:43 AM on 05/16/11
Winnie Cooper is a goddamned whore
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themagicrat's Avatar
Not my favorite by him, but a great record nonetheless. I gained a lot more respect for it when I saw him play the entire thing live. It's amazing how much better it is when you listen to it straight through.
06:09 AM on 05/16/11
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Clintoto's Avatar
Something In The Night is amazing.
07:32 AM on 05/16/11
Matt Chylak
contextblues.wordpress.co m
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Matt Chylak's Avatar
nice call on the "Racing In The Street" alternate version being better than the album cut. are you reviewing The Promise?

Darkness is my least favorite Springsteen record from this era. I just don't like the turnaround from Born To Run (though I understand it).
07:59 AM on 05/16/11
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the line in badlands is "poor man wanna be rich, rich man....."

album is a perfect 10.
09:33 AM on 05/16/11
Jet Set Paul
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Definitely my favorite Bruce Springsteen album. Great review.
09:48 AM on 05/16/11
master of disaster
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Ravelle17's Avatar
Everyone says the alternate version of "Racing" is better than the one on Darkness, and I agreed for a little while...but the original is just so much more emotional.
09:45 PM on 05/16/11
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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Everyone says the alternate version of "Racing" is better than the one on Darkness, and I agreed for a little while...but the original is just so much more emotional.
Agreed with you there. The version on The Promise is great, but the Darkness version is beyond perfect.

I go back and forth on whether I love this or The River more. Both are top 10/15 of all time for me. Every song here is great (I really don't think there's a song on the first 8 albums that I dislike) with the opener and the closer being the best songs on the record once again. The title track would be in serious contention for my favorite non-BTR Bruce track, while Badlands is just a perfect opener (and so great live). The other two four corners and Something in the Night round out the list of the best tracks on the record.

I love the feel of this album and how it's really Born to Run from the other side of things. Listening to these two records side by side is really interesting (not to mention a damn solid couple hours of music). Still no excuse for omitting The Promise, as that song could have served perfectly as a penultimate track and a lead in to the epic closer (much like Meeting functions on Born to Run), but that's a small complaint for an album so full of wonderful material. And judging by The Promise, which is mostly good, but not great, Springsteen mostly made the right decisions with what to toss and what to keep from the massive pile of songs he recorded for this record.
12:39 PM on 05/18/11
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as described in this limited edition book on the Darkness on The Edge of Town albume and tour, Bruce took no prisoners during the recording and touring of his darkest and most mature work... "I spent those years in between [Born to Run and Darkness] waiting for his return, both sonically and in the flesh. And when he did return, a changed man, a grownup with a new anger and dissonance to his sound, I felt bereft. I had to fucking adjust." score it while they last.... The Light in Darkness
09:19 AM on 06/01/11
Tim McCall
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This album and 'Nebraska' are my favorite Springsteen albums.
08:24 AM on 07/13/11
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Everyone says the alternate version of "Racing" is better than the one on Darkness, and I agreed for a little while...but the original is just so much more emotional.
The Promise version wouldn't have fit on Darkness. The version on Darkness is so key to the symmetry of the album, calling a tentative end to Side 1 before "Promised Land" opens Side 2 on a second wind of energy.
03:32 PM on 07/16/11
master of disaster
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