Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

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disco_greetingsfromasburyparknj.jpg
Commercially Released: January 5, 1973
Label: Columbia
Produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos
Recorded by Louis Lahav at 914 Sound Recording Studios (June - October 1972)
Remixed by Jack Ashkinazy
Design by John Berg and Fred Lombardi

Overview

Springsteen's Record Deal

The Bruce Springsteen Band dissolved in the middle of March 1972. Around this time, Springsteen signed 'Exclusive Recording' and 'Exclusive Management Agreements' with Laurel Canyon (Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos). However Springsteen did not sign any Songwriting Agreement at this time, apparently wishing to think this matter over a bit longer. During April Springsteen travelled to New York on occasions to visit Mike Appel at the publishing company Pocketful Of Tunes, where Appel was then employed. During April some spontaneous, 'off-the-cuff' Springsteen performances were recorded in a songwriting room (not the studio) at Pocketful Of Tunes. To date, only a couple of these demos have surfaced. There may have been other songs (titles unknown) similarly taped that have yet to circulate.

In late April 1972 Mike Appel was able to procure a May 2 meeting with CBS A&R Manager John Hammond so that Hammond could meet and listen to Bruce. Hammond loved what he heard and Springsteen’s first studio demo session took place at CBS Studios the following day (the so-called 'John Hammond Demo Session'). Fourteen recordings were made of twelve different songs; two performed twice. Session log information survives so it has been verified that these recordings encompass the complete session. John Hammond was prepared to sign Bruce on the spot on May 3. But administrative formalities within CBS meant that it would take several weeks for that to become reality. Mike Appel sent cassette copies of some (not all) of this May 3 material to several record company executives during May in an attempt to create a bidding war for Springsteen’s services. However, none of the other companies were interested in Bruce.

A week or so following the demo session Springsteen finally signed his 'Exclusive Songwriting Agreement' with publisher Sioux City Music (Appel & Cretecos). It was following the signing of this Agreement that Springsteen began a series of May-June demo sessions for Sioux City Music at Wes Farrell’s Pocketful Of Sounds Studios (where Appel was still employed). Despite this timeline it appears that some of these recordings may have been cut in April 1972. Laurel Canyon Productions (Appel & Cretecos) finally signed a recording contract with CBS ('the CBS Agreement') on June 9, 1972. Bruce was not signed directly to CBS - his services were subcontracted to CBS by Laurel Canyon.

Recording Sessions

There is no doubt that 1972 was a massive song writing period for Bruce. Although some have their genesis in 1971, Springsteen wrote dozens of songs during 1972, prior to the January 1973 release of his debut album. The vast majority of the known recordings were made during a three-four month period, from May thru August 1972. From this large pool of recordings Appel-Cretecos selected and distributed some of them during 1973-74 - most notably to the UK – European based publisher Intersong Music Ltd. Some recordings were distributed on tape, others on acetates. Most of these acetates were manufactured at Media Sound in New York City and Angel Sound in Bedford, MA. Intersong also pressed its own acetates for distribution within the industry. This audio gradually filtered into collector circles in the late 1970s, often under the misnomer 'the London Publishing Demos'.

The audio from these sessions that has circulated to date was recorded at either: a) CBS Studios, b) Mediasound Studios at West 57th Street, New York City, c) 914 Sound Studios or d) Jim Cretecos’ apartment (location uncertain - stories contradict each other). Interestingly neither the material recorded at CBS Studios (the so-called 'Hammond tapes') nor the material recorded in Jim Cretecos’ apartment (the so-called 'Cretecos Tapes') was ever sent to publishers. The Cretecos apartment tapes never circulated until the early 1990s, when Jimmy Cretecos sold his private audio collection (which also included recordings from both Mediasound Studios and 914 Sound Studios) to a third party – and it was this third party (JEC Music USA) that attempted to claim copyright of the material and to release it commercially. Springsteen took the matter to court in both the UK and USA – litigation that, all totalled, spanned nearly 7 years (1994 – 2001). In the end Bruce won both the UK and USA cases convincingly – however not before much of the material had leaked out on various unauthorized and/or bootleg CD releases.

Although the general time frame and sequencing of these 1972 demo-recording sessions has become clearer, much of the finer details (i.e., exact locations, dates and times for each recording) remain unclear. The full scope of Springsteen’s songwriting catalogue that was actually committed to audio tape by Bruce during this period remains a mystery. As can be seen below, nearly half of the songs that Springsteen is believed to have written have yet to surface in any audio form.

Laurel Canyon Productions (Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos) signed a recording contract with CBS ('the CBS Agreement') on June 9, 1972. Springsteen’s services were subcontracted to Columbia Records by Laurel Canyon (i.e. Bruce was not signed directly to CBS/Columbia). Laurel Canyon was to receive an immediate cash advance from CBS and this money was to be used to pay for the studio time at 914 Sound Studios to record the album. A delay by CBS in delivering the advance money to Laurel Canyon resulted in the band sessions at 914 not starting until late June, although Springsteen had cut four solo acoustic tracks at 914 ("Growin' Up", "Street Queen", "Arabian Nights" and "Lady And The Doctor") on June 7. During June Springsteen had finalized the selection of the musicians that would be used for the initial sessions at 914 Sound. The musicians chosen (with an approval from Appel-Cretecos) constituted the entire line-up of the former Bruce Springsteen Band - David Sancious, Gary Tallent, Vini Lopez and Steve Van Zandt. However, Van Zandt ended up partaking in almost none of the 914 Sound band sessions because of a prior commitment to tour as a member of The Dovells backing group)

Recording sessions for the Greetings album spanned a four-month period, from early June to late October 1972. All sessions took place at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York. The initial sessions at 914 Sound Studios involved the recording of the band material. Apparently Springsteen had pretty much decided what songs were going to be given a band arrangement before entering the studio. So the core band sessions were completed in only about two weeks. No unreleased band recordings from the debut album sessions have surfaced. Following these band sessions the various members scattered (keeping in mind Bruce had not decided to form a touring band at this stage).

Springsteen spent the next few weeks recording solo material. It was during this period that differences of opinion surfaced about what material (band vs solo) was going to dominate the eventually released LP. There were two sides in this disagreement. Mike Appel and John Hammond wanted a solo-dominated album, while Springsteen and Jimmy Cretecos preferred a band-dominated album. During early August a compromise was reached and the album track selection was decided upon – featuring five band recordings ("Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?", "Growin’ Up", "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City", "For You" and "Lost In The Flood") and five solo recordings ("The Angel", "Mary Queen Of Arkansas", "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights" and "Visitation At Fort Horn"). On August 10, 1972 Laurel Canyon transferred the sound recording copyrights to these ten songs to CBS. So it seemed the album was finalized. However when then-CBS President Clive Davis listened to the ten tracks he commented that not only did he prefer the band tracks, but he also felt the album lacked a potential hit single. In essence Davis was siding with Springsteen’s vision of the album as being more rock-orientated.

In August Springsteen composed two more commercial-sounding songs, "Blinded By The Light" and "Spirit In The Night". Consequently a further “band” session was required. However both Sancious and Tallent, then-employed at Alpha Sound Studios in Richmond, were unable to return to New York to record. Bruce wished to incorporate saxophone in both new songs and contacted Clarence Clemons, a member of Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at the time. So the studio session line-up for these two songs was Clemons, Lopez and Springsteen (who played all other instruments, except for the piano on "Blinded By The Light", which was handled by Harold Wheeler. "Blinded" and "Spirit" (as well as the only uncirculated track from the sessions, "The Chosen") were completed by early September. These two band recordings replaced the three solo recordings ("Visitation", "Arabian Nights" and "Jazz Musician") that had previously been shortlisted. Therefore the final album was reduced from ten tracks to nine, encompassing seven band tracks and two solo tracks. Columbia Records original intention was to release the album in late November 1972. However the company decided the album might get overlooked among the massive amount of pre-Christmas releases so the album was held back until early January.

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. was commercially released January 5, 1973. Springsteen continued composing new material after the sessions ended and was allegedly supplied with a reel-to-reel recorder by Appel-Cretecos and is thought to have made some home demos on his own during this period. None of this audio from the September-December 1972 period has ever emerged. However at least two further publishing demo sessions were held at 914 Studios – one on January 29-30 and the other on February 19-20, 1973. See The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle studio sessions page for more information on those sessions.

Released

# Song Title Running Time Release
1. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT 5:03 GREETINGS / 1973 single
2. GROWIN' UP 3:05 GREETINGS
3. MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS 5:19 GREETINGS
4. DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET? 2:04 GREETINGS
5. LOST IN THE FLOOD 5:13 GREETINGS
6. THE ANGEL 3:23 GREETINGS
7. FOR YOU 4:40 GREETINGS / 1973 b-side
8. SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT 4:57 GREETINGS / 1973 single
9. IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY 3:11 GREETINGS

Total Running Time: 37:13

Additional Information

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