test:todo-ideas-theriverottdark1

Part One - Overview

Springsteen reached a final settlement in his year-long litigation with Mike Appel on May 28, 1977. Effectively this meant that for the first time in a year Springsteen was able to go into a studio and record. He wasted no time. Recording sessions for the fourth album began just four days later, on June 1, 1977 at Atlantic Studios in New York City. That first night Springsteen laid down at least eight songs, including a take of "Something In The Night" that actually made the final album. Springsteen had a considerable amount of new material – but the songs were in various stages of writing completion. Consequently, many of the songs were shaped over the course of numerous sessions spanning several months.

The sessions at Atlantic Studios were only two or three weeks old when problems surfaced. Bruce didn't like the sound he was getting from the studio (particularly the drums). On top of that, Atlantic did not offer a particularly comfortable or livable environment for the musicians. So there was a decision taken to shift operations to the nearby Record Plant (where most of the Born To Run album had been recorded). However, they’d already made financial commitments to Atlantic Studios, plus on such short notice they were unable to find much un-booked studio time at the popular Record Plant. Consequently, the period through August into September 1977 saw Springsteen and the band recording at both studios – but mostly Atlantic. However, from mid-September thru late December all recording seems to have taken place at The Record Plant – where all but one the recordings issued on the original album emanate from.

The actual recording sessions for Darkness On The Edge Of Town were completed by early January 1978. The mixing sessions began in early January 1978 and dragged on until late March – there were a tremendous amount of different mixes considered, with Springsteen changing his mind on the mix of one song (“The Promised Land”) as late as early April. From March 1978 to the start of the Darkness Tour in late May Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg were very busy at nearby Secret Sound Studios with Southside Johnny’s Hearts Of Stone album (released early October 1978). Springsteen donated two non short-listed songs from the Darkness sessions to the Southside LP project.

According to comments by Darkness sessions recording engineer Jimmy Iovine about thirty songs were recorded to a completed state and available for inclusion on the Darkness album. There were an unknown number of additional songs not fully completed. What “not fully completed” means is uncertain. At this stage thirty-two songs have been officially released (the ten on the original album, four on Tracks and eighteen on The Promise) but several of these have modern vocal takes, and their 1978 state remains unknown. There is also an unknown amount of not fully finished recordings. The list below contains fifty-four songs from the period that likely encompass all or nearly all of the thirty songs Jimmy Iovine was alluding to, as well as most of the ones never completed.

The audio from the Darkness sessions that has surfaced unofficially over the years has been of rather disappointing quality. During the late 1970s and 1980s most of it was of very weak quality. However, over the past twenty years lower generation audio specimens have emerged and the CD-era boots of this audio have been a noticeable improvement over their vinyl era counterparts. Yet in many cases it has become apparent that there were flaws in the way the original source individuals taped these studio sessions. There certainly appears to have been some hidden “fly-on-the-wall” type tapings. The other problem is that much of the leaked audio is of early studio workouts of these songs, rather than later, fully realized renditions. Most of the leaked studio material emanates from the June-October 1977 period, so the later November 77-January 78 sessions may include several other songs that remain undocumented, even after the release of The Promise.

The 2010 release of The Promise is somewhat of a double-edged sword. We now have a slightly better understanding of the Darkness sessions, as well as access to several tracks that were previously unknown to us such as "Save My Love" and "Breakaway". However, the wonderful notebook facsimile included in the box lists titles of many songs (see Part Four below) that are totally new to us. It is unknown how many of these songs actually exist; many may not be songs at all - just titles. Jimmy Iovine mentions in the making-of documentary that Springsteen wrote seventy songs for potential use on "Album IV". It remains a possibility that even the seventy songs referred to by Iovine is a conservative estimate of Springsteen's true output at this time. A case of three steps forward, two steps back?

BADLANDS 4:01 DARKNESS
SOMETHING IN THE NIGHT 5:08 DARKNESS
RACING IN THE STREET 6:51 DARKNESS
STREETS OF FIRE 4:02 DARKNESS
PROVE IT ALL NIGHT 3:54 DARKNESS
FACTORY 2:15 DARKNESS
ADAM RAISED A CAIN 4:31 DARKNESS
CANDY'S ROOM 2:43 DARKNESS
THE PROMISED LAND 4:25 DARKNESS
DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN 4:23 DARKNESS
DON'T LOOK BACK 2:56 TRACKS
HEARTS OF STONE 4:27 TRACKS
ICEMAN 3:13 TRACKS
GIVE THE GIRL A KISS 3:47 TRACKS
RACING IN THE STREET ('78) 6:47 PROMISE
GOTTA GET THAT FEELING 3:15 PROMISE
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN 2:16 PROMISE
SOMEDAY (WE'LL BE TOGETHER) 5:32 PROMISE
ONE WAY STREET 4:16 PROMISE
BECAUSE THE NIGHT 3:22 PROMISE
WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET 3:31 PROMISE
THE BROKENHEARTED 5:16 PROMISE
RENDEZVOUS 2:35 PROMISE
CANDY'S BOY 4:31 PROMISE
AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU 3:59 PROMISE
FIRE 4:05 PROMISE
SPANISH EYES 3:47 PROMISE
IT'S A SHAME 3:12 PROMISE
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) 2:16 PROMISE
TALK TO ME 4:17 PROMISE
THE LITTLE THINGS (MY BABY DOES) 3:15 PROMISE
BREAKAWAY 5:26 PROMISE
THE PROMISE 5:47 PROMISE
CITY OF NIGHT 2:56 PROMISE
THE WAY 3:40 PROMISE
SAVE MY LOVE THRILL HILL VAULT
PREACHER'S DAUGHTER complete
I'M GOIN' BACK complete but mix flaw
BREAK OUT complete but mix flaw
CRAZY ROCKER rough
DOWN BY THE RIVER rough
FRANKIE rough
INDEPENDENCE DAY rough
SHERRY DARLING rough
DRIVE ALL NIGHT rough
RAMROD rough
DON'T SAY NO rough
I WANNA BE WITH YOU rough
CASTAWAY very rough
OUR LOVE WILL LAST FOREVER uncirculating
CHEAP THRILLS uncirculating
TRIANGLE SONG uncirculating
I GOT MY EYE ON YOU uncirculating
AFTER DINNER uncirculating
KING'S BIG CHANCE uncirculating
BLUE MOON uncirculating
(I LOVE) EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU uncirculating

Much of the studio session detail below is courtesy of Clinton Heylin's book E Street Shuffle - The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

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