The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'The Promise' by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen - The PromiseReview Snapshot: An album of lost sessions from Darkness On The Edge Of Town that any of today’s pretenders to the throne would die-for. A collection of songs that ‘The Boss’ couldn’t find album space for now sees the light of day, over three decades later. It has certainly been well worth the wait.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: After being proclaimed “the future of rock‘n’roll” in 1975 following the commercial success of Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen went back to the drawing board to dream it all up again. However due to legal disputes he was unable to release any new material until 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town. What you’ve got here are 22 songs that chronologically belong between those two albums.

Described by The Boss himself as “a great lost work recovered”, this album opens with ‘Racing In The Street’, an alternative version to the Darkness album track, this time with piano, violin and harmonica dominant , and with original lyrics like “32 Ford” (instead of the eventual 69 Chevy) that was never going to sound right.

'Outside Looking In’ sounds like a Buddy Holly b-side with that raunchy Springsteen vocal and Clemons trademark saxophone all over it, while ‘Someday (We’ll Be Together’ is a tale of romantic optimism with beautiful harmonies that’s very gentle on the ear.

‘Because The Night’, a song synonymous with Patti Smith is here in its original version and, although the Boss wrote it, I personally think it doesn’t match the quality of the version we’ve become accustomed to.

On Disc 2 there’s ‘Fire’, another Bruce song that the Pointer Sisters would enjoy success with, but this was the closest Springsteen would come to “pop music” in the late 70s. He tips his hat to Sam Cooke on ‘Ain’t Good Enough For You’, sounding remarkably like ‘Twistin The Night Away’.

If you listen carefully to the opening lines of ‘Spanish Eyes’, you’ll recognize the lyrics but not the song. These would later become part of the brilliant ‘I’m On Fire’ in the 80s.

We’re brought right back to the 70s on ‘Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)’, a song he wrote about the then recently deceased Elvis Presley. It would later become ‘Factory’ for the next album. Talk To Me’ is a brass orientated, infectious up-tempo number that wouldn’t be out of place at a Seeger Sessions concert.

There’s no shortage of classic story-telling numbers either. On ‘Breakaway’ there’s Sonny, Jamie and Bobby to add to his list of characters in song, and on the title track it’s Johnny, Billy and Terry. 

‘The Promise’ is indeed one of the many highlights on here, and is effectively a ‘Thunder Road (Part II)' and just as good. If you thought 21 songs wasn’t enough, there’s even a hidden track, ‘The Way’, which is beautiful and worthy of being visible.

Die-hard ‘Boss’ fans will love this collection even if some of the tracks have been updated but these songs did form the basis for 'Darkness…' and Springsteen still believes he released the best songs 32 years ago. For many of his contempories they’d die for even one of these left-over songs.

Another impressive selection from New Jersey's greatest.

Mick Lynch

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