Tunnel Of Love - Studio Sessions - Overview


Springsteen completed the Born In The USA tour in October 1985. He kept a very low public profile for the next twelve months, residing almost exclusively on the west coast with then-wife Julianne. During the spring, possibly early summer, of 1986 Springsteen undertook a series of low-key sessions at his home studio, Thrill Hill West, in Beverly Hills. These appear to have been solo sessions, perhaps mirroring Springsteen’s early 1983 Born In The USA solo sessions at the same location (although by this point Bruce's west coast home studio had been substantially enhanced compared to 1983). However these sessions were abandoned by the early summer of 1986 when a decision was made to proceed with the Live 1975-85 box set project. Springsteen devoted his energies during the remainder of 1986 preparing the large box set for its late 1986 release. The box set was a massive commercial success.

Following the release of the live box, Springsteen began a new series of solo-based home studio sessions beginning on January 20, 1987 that would form the foundation of the material issued on the Tunnel Of Love album (and the 1998 Tracks outtakes box set). Bruce was inspired, cutting three songs on the very first day of recording; "Walk Like A Man", "Spare Parts" and "When You Need Me". The second day of sessions four days later was even more successful with five songs recorded, including two unused outtakes "Pretty Baby, Will You Be Mine" and "Things Ain't That Way". Unlike during 1986 this time Springsteen recorded at his New Jersey home studio, with specific E Street Band members later brought into the Hit Factory in New York City to embellish or add parts. It appears the "New Jersey home studio phase" took place between January 20 and the end of May 1987, with the bulk of the album recorded across eighteen sessions.

The May-July 1987 period saw Springsteen conducting further recording sessions back out on the west coast at A&M Studios in Los Angeles (and possibly related solo sessions at his west coast home studio as well). The initial phase of these A&M Studios sessions included three outside session musicians (together and individually) - Jay Dee Maness (pedal steel, and at the time a member of ex-Byrd Chris Hillman's Desert Rose Band), Richard Greene (a noted fiddle player) and James “Jimmie” Wood (a harmonica specialist). A July 1987 news piece in Rolling Stone magazine reported on the three musician's involvement in Springsteen sessions in Los Angeles. Some individual members of the E Street Band were also involved in these, or slightly later, west coast A&M Studio sessions. However the only recording that’s surfaced from all these west coast sessions is "One Step Up" (which features only Patti Scialfa in support). Of these three "outside" session men – only James Wood appears on any of the known recordings (a harmonica overdub on "Spare Parts").

In 1995 Springsteen confirmed in an Australian television interview with Molly Meldrum that nearly an entire album's worth of songs, material that effectively constituted another work-in-progress album separate from the Tunnel Of Love album, had been recorded during 1986-87. It is unclear from Bruce’s comments if he was talking about the material he is alleged to have recorded by himself during May-June 1986, or the material with the three (above-noted) session musicians that he recorded in Los Angeles in May-June 1987, or both. The Tunnel Of Love album was delivered to CBS in August 1987 and released in October. Tunnel Of Love can be seen as a virtual Springsteen solo album. Not a single circulating track that has surfaced from the sessions features the ensemble-type E Street Band playing that had characterized his previous studio albums (except Nebraska).

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