By Jack Sharkey, July 20, 2018

 

 

Click on the album cover below and use the code KEFDARKNESS to receive 20% off your purchase of this month's Hi-Res Treasure!*

 

Released on June 2, 1978, Darkness On the Edge of Town was a bit of a comeback for Bruce Springsteen, who had graced the covers of Time and Newsweek just three years before. Legal hassles with his management and label kept Springsteen and his stellar E Street Band out of the recording studio right as his star had begun to ascend. Holed up in a farmhouse in Holmdel, New Jersey, in between shows that helped keep some money coming in, the band spent two years refining the ten tracks that comprised Darkness as well as a handful of tracks that would later appear on 1979’s The River.   

 

Springsteen - Darkness On the Edge of Town

Overall, the album is spotty, even though the band never fails to surprise and please the listener. Six of the 10 tracks on the album have become lodged in the collective musical consciousness of pretty much every music fan, whether a die-hard Springsteen fan or not, and this remastering the truth and beauty of the music shines.

 

The production is very typically East Coast 1970s – a little gloomy, a little soft and a little dead sounding. But in this case, the gloom serves the album well. As Springsteen continued to introduce the characters who inhabited his world, the production of Darkness warns the listener, ‘I’m going to tell you about these people but I’m not going to let you get to know them intimately. They're my people, this is my world, and I'm only giving you a glimpse inside.’ Instead of being raucous and loud to fit the subject matter, Racing In the Street is a veiled, slow-motion theater-of-the-mind look at the one thing that keeps the main characters in the song alive. It's an immensly sad song about life giving up on us all. You can picture the blue smoke from the tires and the smell of the exhaust drifting across the parking lot, but Springsteen doesn't want you to be in the scene - you're only allowed to observe what he wants you to see.

 

Sonically, the kick drum sounds quaint (but refreshingly real) compared to what we're used to hearing today, and the attack and decay of the snare drum is just so very 1970s sounding, but the guitars and piano scream in all of their personal rage and glory.  This is not the best sounding album in Springsteen’s catalog, but the remaster (I listened in 96kHz/24bit resolution) brings out detail and emotion the original pressing hid in all the gloom.

 

As a time capsule of what things sounded like back in the day, and as the milestone album that made Bruce Springsteen the force he would become for the next twenty years, Darkness On the Edge of Town is a must have for any serious music collector.

 

 

* - One per customer. Offer valid until August 19, 2018