Review: “The Promise,” Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen wrote more than 70 songs during a period in his career when a lawsuit with his former manager, Mike Appel, prohibited him from recording. He and the rest of the E Street Band spent the down time at his farm in Holmdel, NJ, rehearsing incessantly and going into debt. When they were able to finally get back in the studio, the 70 tracks were whittled down to ten and those ten made up the classic, Darkness on the Edge of Town. The other 60 were either given to other artists (“Because the Night” to Patti Smith and “Fire” to Robert Gordon and later the Pointer Sisters) or tucked away for another day. Well, more than 30 years later, the other day has finally arrived in the form of The Promise.
Many of the 21 songs (22 if you’re lucky) were unfinished. Some were lacking lyrics, while others needed more instrumentation and vocal work. It’s not hard to tell which songs were recorded back in 1977 and which ones were recorded recently, but who cares? New/old Springsteen, it’s all good.
“The Brokenhearted” and “Breakaway” are both excellent soulful ballads. “The Promise” is a masterpiece. The rock version of “Racing in the Street ’78” takes that song to a whole new, exciting level. In “City of Night” Bruce sings in a voice I’ve never heard before and I like it. The pop side of Springsteen really comes out on “The Little Things (my baby does),” the playful “Ain’t Good Enough for You,” the Southside Johnny hit “Talk to Me” and “Save My Love,” a tune that is one of the best he’s ever written. If he were getting regular airplay, it would easily be a top ten hit. The few weak moments include “Because the Night,” “Rendezvous” and “Fire.” All three are good, but lack the passion of previously released live recordings.
Springsteen has never been an artist who has just set out to record hit songs. Most artists would kill to write songs like “The Promise,” “Because the Night” and “Fire” and wouldn’t hesitate to build an album around all three. But this is what makes Springsteen great. He doesn’t do what you want him to do, he does what he wants to do. After all the years and all the fame, it’s hard to argue with his method. I’m just glad he felt that now was a good time to officially put these songs out. The Promise is a “five star” collection that you will enjoy over and over again. Now onto The River.
“Save My Love” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Springsteen talks about The Promise
“Ain’t Good Enough for You” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band