Category Archives: 1978

Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town

ON THIS DATE (34 YEARS AGO)
June 2, 1978 – Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Darkness on the Edge of Town is the fourth album by Bruce Springsteen, released on this date in June 1978. The album marked the end of a three year period of forced hiatus from recording brought on by contractual obligations and legal battling with former manager Mike Appel. Although the album did not produce high charting singles it nevertheless remained on the charts for 97 weeks.
Recovering from legal troubles and the stress of the breakthrough success of Born to Run, Springsteen released a somewhat less commercial album, Darkness on the Edge of Town.
In terms of the original LP’s sequencing, Springsteen continued his “four corners” approach from Born to Run, as the songs beginning each side (“Badlands” and “The Promised Land”) were martial rallying cries to overcome circumstances, while the songs ending each side (“Racing in the Street”, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”) were sad dirges of circumstances overcoming all hope. Unlike Born to Run, the songs were recorded by the full band all at once, frequently soon after Springsteen had written them. Steven Van Zandt received a credit for production assistance for helping Springsteen tighten the arrangements from Born to Run’s epic sound.
This collection of songs, each of which Springsteen sang in the first person, was given unity by several recurring themes. The words “darkness” / “dark” appear in six of the tracks, while nine of them feature the “night” / “tonight”. “They” are mentioned in eight songs, with a general suggestion of nameless people who exert a negative influence. “Work” / “worked” / “working” form part of six songs, and so do the words “dream” / “dreams”. Six is also the number of songs in which Bruce and his characters are found “driving” / “racing” / “riding”, or mentioning the names of cars. There are references to “blood”, “born”, “love” / “loved” in four of the tracks. In the song “Racing in the Street,” Springsteen alludes to Martha & the Vandellas’ Dancing in the Street with the lyric “Summer’s here and the time is right for racing in the street,” which is similar to the Rolling Stones similar appropriation of the lyric in the song “Street Fightin’ Man”.
The album failed to generate any substantial hit singles, although “Prove It All Night” made into the Top 40 in the U.S. at #33, and follow-up “Badlands” just missed, peaking at #42.
At the time, Darkness claimed the number one slot on NME album of the year ranking. In 2003, the album was ranked number 151 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The same year, the TV network VH1 named Darkness on the Edge of Town the 68th greatest album of all time.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Occasionally, a record appears that changes fundamentally the way we hear rock & roll, the way it’s recorded, the way it’s played. Such records — Jimi Hendrix’ Are You Experienced, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Who’s Next, The Band — force response, both from the musical community and the audience. To me, these are the records justifiably called classics, and I have no doubt that Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town will someday fit as naturally within that list as the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” or Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.”
One ought to be wary of making such claims, but in this case, they’re justified at every level. In the area of production, Darkness on the Edge of Town is nothing less than a breakthrough. Springsteen — with coproducer Jon Landau, engineer Jimmy Iovine and Charles Plotkin, who helped Iovine mix the LP — is the first artist to fuse the spacious clarity of Los Angeles record making and the raw density of English productions. That’s the major reason why the result is so different from Born to Run’s Phil Spector wall of sound. On the earlier album, for instance, the individual instruments were deliberately obscured to create the sense of one huge instrument. Here, the same power is achieved more naturally. Most obviously, Max Weinberg’s drumming has enormous size, a heartbeat with the same kind of space it occupies onstage (the only other place I’ve heard a bass drum sound this big).
Now that it can be heard, the E Street Band is clearly one of the finest rock & roll groups ever assembled. Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent and guitarist Steve Van Zandt are a perfect rhythm section, capable of both power and groove. Pianist Roy Bittan is as virtuosic as on Born to Run, and saxophonist Clarence Clemons, though he has fewer solos, evokes more than ever the spirit of King Curtis. But the revelation is organist Danny Federici, who barely appeared on the last L.P. Federici’s style is utterly singular, focusing on wailing, trebly chords that sing (and in the marvelous solo at the end of “Racing in the Street,” truly cry).
Yet the dominant instrumental focus of Darkness on the Edge of Town is Bruce Springsteen’s guitar. Like his songwriting and singing, Springsteen’s guitar playing gains much of its distinctiveness through pastiche. There are echoes of a dozen influences — Duane Eddy, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Buchanan, even Ennio Morricone’s Sergio Leone soundtracks — but the synthesis is completely Springsteen’s own. Sometimes Springsteen quotes a famous solo — Robbie Robertson’s from the live version of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” at the end of “Something in the Night,” Jeff Beck’s from “Heart Full of Soul” in the bridge of “Candy’s Room” — and then shatters it into another dimension. In the end the most impressive guitar work of all is just his own: “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Streets of Fire” are things no one’s ever heard before.
Much the same can be said about Springsteen’s singing. Certainly, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan are the inspirations for taking such extreme chances: bending and twisting syllables; making two key lines on “Streets of Fire” a wordless, throttled scream; the wailing and humming that precede and follow some of the record’s most important lyrics. But more than ever, Springsteen’s voice is personal, intimate and revealing, bigger and less elusive. It’s the possibility hinted at on Born to Run’s “Backstreets” and in the postverbal wail at the end of “Jungleland,” In fact, Springsteen picks up that moan at the beginning of “Something in the Night,” on which he turns in the new album’s most adventurous vocal.
One could say a great deal about the construction of this LP. The programming alone is impressive: each side is a discrete progression of similar lyrical and musical themes, and the whole is a more universal version of the same picture. Ideas, characters and phrases jump from song to song like threads in a tapestry, and everything’s one long interrelationship. But all of these elements — the production, the playing, even the programming — are designed to focus our attention on what Springsteen has to tell us about the last three years of his life.
In a way, this album might take as its text two lines from Jackson Browne: “Nothing survives — /But the way we live our lives.” But where Browne is content to know this, Springsteen explores it: Darkness on the Edge of Town is about the kind of life that deserves survival. Despite its title, it is a complete rejection of despair. Bruce Springsteen says this over and over again, more bluntly and clearly than anyone could have imagined. There isn’t a single song on this record in which his yearning for a perfect existence, a live lived to the hilt, doesn’t play a central role.
Springsteen also realizes the terrible price one pays for living at half-speed. In “Racing in the Street,” the album’s most beautiful ballad, Springsteen separates humanity into two classes: “Some guys they just give up living/And start dying little by little, piece by piece/Some guys come home from work and wash up/And go racin’ in the street.” But there’s nothing smug about it, because Springsteen knows that the line separating the living dead from the walking wounded is a fine and bitter one. In the song’s final verse, he describes with genuine love a person of the first sort, someone whose eyes “hate for just being born.” In “Factory,” he depicts the most numbing sort of life with a compassion that’s nearly religious. And in “Adam Raised a Cain,” the son who rejected his father’s world comes to understand their relationship as “the dark heart of a dream” — a dream become nightmarish, but a vision of something better nonetheless.
There are those who will say that “Adam Raised a Cain” is full of hate, but I don’t believe it. The only hate I hear on this LP is embodied in a single song, “Streets of Fire,” where Springsteen describes how it feels to be trapped by lies. And even here, he has the maturity to hate the lie, not the liar.
Throughout the new album, Springsteen’s lyrics are a departure from his early work, almost its opposite, in fact: dense and compact, not scattershot. And if the scenes are the same — the highways, bars, cars and toil — they also represent facets of life that rock & roll has too often ignored or, what’s worse, romanticized. Darkness on the Edge of Town faces everyday life whole, daring to see if something greater can be made of it. This is naive perhaps, but also courageous. Who else but a brave innocent could believe so boldly in a promised land, or write a song that not only quotes Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” but paraphrases the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby”?
Bruce Springsteen has a tendency to inspire messianic regard in his fans — including this one. This isn’t so much because he’s regarded as a savior — though his influence has already been substantial — but because he fulfills the rock tradition in so many ways. Like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, Springsteen has the ability, and the zeal, to do it all. For many years, rock & roll has been splintered between the West Coast’s monopoly on the genre’s lyrical and pastoral characteristics and a British and Middle American stranglehold on toughness and raw power. Springsteen unites these aspects: he’s the only artist I can think of who’s simultaneously comparable to Jackson Browne and Pete Townshend. Just as the production of this record unifies certain technical trends, Springsteen’s presentation makes rock itself whole again. This is true musically — he rocks as hard as a punk, but with the verbal grace of a singer/songwriter — and especially emotionally. If these songs are about experienced adulthood, they sacrifice none of rock & roll’s adolescent innocence. Springsteen escapes the narrow dogmatism of both Old Wave and New, and the music’s possibilities are once again limitless.
Four years ago, in a Cambridge bar, my friend Jon Landau and I watched Bruce Springsteen give a performance that changed some lives — my own included. About a similar night, Landau later wrote what was to become rock criticism’s most famous sentence: “I saw rock & roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” With its usual cynicism, the world chose to think of this as a fanciful way of calling Springsteen the Next Big Thing.
I’ve never taken it that way. To me, these words, shamefully mistreated as they’ve been, have kept a different shape. What they’ve always said was that someday Bruce Springsteen would make rock & roll that would shake men’s souls and make them question the direction of their lives. That would do, in short, all the marvelous things rock had always promised to do.
But Born to Run was not that music. It sounded instead like the end of an era, the climax of the first twenty years of this grand tradition, the apex of our collective adolescence. Darkness on the Edge of Town does not. It feels like the threshold of a new period in which we’ll again have “lives on the line where dreams are found and lost.” It poses once more the question that rock & roll’s epiphanic moments always raise: Do you believe in magic?
And once again, the answer is yes. Absolutely.
~  Dave Marsh (July 27, 1978)
TRACKS:
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.
Side one
“Badlands” – 4:01
“Adam Raised a Cain” – 4:32
“Something in the Night” – 5:11
“Candy’s Room” – 2:51
“Racing in the Street” – 6:53
Side two
“The Promised Land” – 4:33
“Factory” – 2:17
“Streets of Fire” – 4:09
“Prove It All Night” – 3:56
“Darkness on the Edge of Town” – 4:30
A box set reissue, entitled The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, was released on November 16, 2010. The six-disc set includes three CDs and three DVDs. This contains a remastered version of the Darkness on the Edge of Town album, a new two-CD album, The Promise containing 21 previously unreleased outtakes from the Darkness sessions, a documentary titled The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town and 2 DVDs of live performances.
TRACKS:
CD 1 – “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (Digitally Remastered)
Badlands
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy’s Room
Racing in the Street
The Promised Land
Factory
Streets of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
CD 2 – “The Promise” (Disc 1)
Racing in the Street (’78)
Gotta Get That Feeling
Outside Looking In
Someday (We’ll Be Together)
One Way Street
Because the Night
Wrong Side of the Street
The Brokenhearted
Rendezvous
Candy’s Boy
CD 3 – “The Promise” (Disc 2)
Save My Love
Ain’t Good Enough for You
Fire
Spanish Eyes
It’s a Shame
Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)
Talk to Me
The Little Things (My Baby Does)
Breakaway
The Promise
City of Night
The Way (hidden track)
DVD 1 – The Promise: The Making of “Darkness on the Edge of Town”
A documentary directed by Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny. The ninety-minute film combines never-before-seen footage of Springsteen and the E Street Band shot between 1976 and 1978—including home rehearsals and studio sessions—with new interviews with Springsteen, E Street Band members, manager Jon Landau, former-manager Mike Appel, and others closely involved in the making of the record. An edited version of the documentary was broadcast by the BBC.
DVD 2 – “Darkness on the Edge of Town”: Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park & Thrill Hill Vault: 1976–1978
An intimate and complete album performance of “Darkness on the Edge of Town” at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey, shot in 2009. Never-before seen archival footage from the Thrill Hill Vault including complete song performances taken from private band rehearsals, studio sessions, and live concerts during the “Darkness” era.
Badlands
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy’s Room
Racing in the Street
The Promised Land
Factory
Streets of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Thrill Hill Vault (1976–1978)
Save My Love (Holmdel, NJ – ’76)
Candy’s Boy (Holmdel, NJ – ’76)
Something in the Night (Red Bank, NJ – ’76)
Don’t Look Back (NYC – ’78)
Ain’t Good Enough for You (NYC – ’78)
The Promise (NYC – ’78)
Candy’s Room Demo (NYC – ’78)
Badlands (Phoenix – ’78)
The Promised Land (Phoenix – ’78)
Prove It All Night (Phoenix – ’78)
Born to Run (Phoenix – ’78)
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (Phoenix – ’78)
DVD 3 – Houston ’78 Bootleg: House Cut
Previously unreleased complete concert performance from the Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour.
Badlands
Streets of Fire
It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Spirit in the Night
Independence Day
The Promised Land
Prove It All Night
Racing in the Street
Thunder Road
Jungleland
The Ties That Bind
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
The Fever
Fire
Candy’s Room
Because the Night
Point Blank
She’s the One
Backstreets
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Born to Run
Detroit Medley
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
You Can’t Sit Down
Quarter to Three

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Filed under 1978, Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town

David Gilmour: David Gilmour

ON THIS DATE (34 YEARS AGO)
May 25, 1978 – David Gilmour: David Gilmour is released in the UK (June 17, 1978 in the US).
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 2.5/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
David Gilmour is the eponymous solo album from David Gilmour, released on this date in May 1978 in the UK and on 17 June 1978 in the US. The album reached #17 in the UK and #29 on the Billboard US album charts and was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. The album was produced by Gilmour himself, and consists mostly of bluesy, guitar oriented rock songs except for the ballad “So Far Away”.
In an interview with Circus Magazine in 1978, Gilmour said this:
     “This album (David Gilmour) was important to me in terms of self respect. At first I didn’t think my name was big enough to carry it. Being in a group for so long can be a bit claustrophobic, and I needed to step out from behind Pink Floyd’s shadow.”

The album was recorded at Super Bear Studios in France between December 1977 and early January 1978 with engineer John Etchells. Then the album was mixed at the same studio in March 1978 by Nick Griffiths. The cover was done by Hipgnosis and Gilmour.
Before David Gilmour virtually “became” Pink Floyd he was always the most likely member of the band (with the possible exception of de-facto leader Roger Waters) to release a solo album. 1978’s welcome eponymous debut showcased his multi-faceted performing talents.
The album opener “Mihalis” is an Animals period instrumental, which, along with “Raise My Rent,” sounds like an outtake from that album. The beautiful “There’s No Way Out of Here” begins with a lonely harmonica and, with “No Way” and “I Can’t Breathe Anymore,” expounds the album’s main theme of being trapped in an untenable situation. “Cry From the Streets” is a nod to the blues, while the lovely “So Far Away” harks back to the ballads of Obscured By Clouds. Almost a missing mid-period Floyd album, this solo effort is a must-have for all Pink Floyd fans.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
In his work with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour’s exact, blues-based guitar solos function as tense pivotal points that set the stage for the next revelation. On his first solo album, however, Gilmour simply flirts with his own crystalline perfection. Drummer Willie Wilson (from the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver) and bassist Rick Wills (a ubiquitous hack from Frampton’s Camel, Roxy Music and the reconstituted Small Faces) are constrained to the sluggish tempos favored by Floyd, and Gilmour dives in like a duck to water. But the alien overview, the philosophical paradoxes that make Pink Floyd’s lazy playing so poignant and pregnant, are sorely missed here. Gilmour affects a bland innocence in the face of earthly perversity in lyrics barely worthy of Samuel Beckett’s shoeshine boy.
One cut stands out: “Short and Sweet,” coauthored by muckraker Roy Harper. A long-time Floyd ally–he sang the biting “Have a Cigar” on Wish You Were Here–Harper is widely regarded as the most uncompromisingly honest songwriter in England. Here, he articulates the existential riddle of David Gilmour better than Gilmour himself can.
There’s nothing amiss with David Gilmour as an immaculate guitar sampler, but as far as providing genuine ideas–forget it. (RS 273)
~ MICHAEL BLOOM (September 7, 1978)
TRACKS:
All songs by David Gilmour except as noted.
Side one
“Mihalis” – 5:46
“There’s No Way Out of Here” (Ken Baker) – 5:08
“Cry from the Street” (Gilmour/Electra Stuart) – 5:13
“So Far Away” – 6:04
Side two
“Short and Sweet” (Gilmour/Roy Harper) – 5:30
“Raise My Rent” – 5:33
“No Way” – 5:32
“Deafinitely” – 4:27
“I Can’t Breathe Anymore” – 3:04

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Filed under 1978, David Gilmour, Pink Floyd, Rick Wills

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: You’re Gonna Get It!


ON THIS DATE (34 YEARS AGO)
May 2, 1978 – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: You’re Gonna Get It! is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# allmusic 3.5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
You’re Gonna Get It! is the second album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released on this date in May, 1978. It reached #23 on Billboard’s Top LP’s & Tapes chart in 1978. It also earned Petty and the Heartbreakers their first gold record. Originally, the album was to be titled Terminal Romance.
After making the world safe for hooky, unpretentious rock & roll with their 1976 debut, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers followed up with an album that further established their claim to the roots-rock throne while sharpening their songcraft to impeccability. The Byrds influence still loomed large on Petty’s sonic landscape but no one before or since ever wore it so well. The desperation and urgency of the protagonist in “I Need to Know” are mirrored by the song’s surging rhythm and frantic vocal. Petty is in full McGuinn mode for “Listen to Her Heart,” an ultimately warm-hearted pop gem where he supports the subject’s independence from an unsuitable beau (so what if he probably had a hidden agenda?). A perfect successor to the band’s immaculate first album.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released last year, was a debut album that declared almost nothing, but intimated all over the place. The music was intricate and deft, with spooky hints of everyone from J.J. Cale to the Guess Who, all played very close to the vest. Petty himself lived up to the “Mystery Man” title of one of the songs, practicing a terse and elliptical romanticism, always just out of reach. Anything more explicit might have made him banal: his very elusiveness was what gave the record most of its tantalizing, unsettling charm.
On You’re Gonna Get It!, Petty has shed some — but not all — of his cloaks. “Magnolia,” the most straightforward love song he’s yet done, maintains the mystique: “Then she kissed me and told me her name/I never did tell her mine.” But by the song’s end, it’s the girl who’s forgotten the singer, while he’s left remembering her. Everything’s open-ended enough to make you want more.
Overall, the current LP boasts an impressive stylistic cohesiveness with its predecessor, but what makes the album exciting are the fresh hints of openness and expansion just beneath the surface. The rhythms are a bit looser, and there’s a new emphasis on Petty’s rough, driving, rock & roll guitar in the mix. Some of the cuts have a Latinized swing, and you can hear bits and pieces of outlaw grit, urban blues and Los Angeles harmonies everywhere. The slippery, layered textures of sound that occasionally seemed mannered on the first record are completely under control here. The new material is, if anything, stronger, and only “Baby’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller” falls short. Like the earlier “Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll,” the number’s too self-conscious a celebration to be entirely convincing: the Heartbreakers are clearly on better terms with ambiguity than with joy.
Petty omits all narrative signposts from his lyrics, depending instead on cryptic, repeated catch phrases and the doomy shifts of the music to flesh out his images. On “You’re Gonna Get It,” the story is left mostly untold. Instead, a stray piano vamp here, a drumbeat there, and jagged guitars slipping in and out of focus build to create a brooding; violent tension, while the singer sneaks through the cracks in the music. Even during the LP’s most upbeat interludes, the aura of undefined menace — coolly accepted as a fact of modern life — is always palpable in the background.
Tom Petty’s achievement is all the more remarkable because, for all his eclecticism, he’s basically working in a mainstream style, mining the obsessions and quirks beneath the sentimental conventions of Seventies pop. He’s got too much determination and integrity to be contained within a cult, and You’re Gonna Get It! is a bid to break him loose. You can’t exactly dance to the album, but it’s still great highway music. And for a restless mystery man like Petty, who’s always impatient for the next step, there’s no doubt which matters more.
~  Tom Carson (September 7, 1978)
TRACKS:
All songs written and composed by Tom Petty, except where noted.
1.            “When The Time Comes” 2:47
2.            “You’re Gonna Get It” 3:01
3.            “Hurt” (Tom Petty, Mike Campbell) 3:16
4.            “Magnolia” 3:03
5.            “Too Much Ain’t Enough” 2:56
6.            “I Need to Know” 2:24
7.            “Listen to Her Heart” 3:04
8.            “No Second Thoughts” 2:41
9.            “Restless” 3:24
10.          “Baby’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller” (Tom Petty, Mike Campbell) 2:53

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Filed under 1978, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, You're Gonna Get It