Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on The Edge Of Town

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  • This KILLER pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The piano was solid and weighty, and there’s a fair amount of Tubey Magic considering the troubled history of the project
  • The background vocals absolutely jump out of the speakers on this copy – track after track, the life and energy get bigger and better
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the size and energy of this classic from 1978, this is the only way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Springsteen presented these hard truths in hard rock settings, the tracks paced by powerful drumming and searing guitar solos.”

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but copies like this prove that this is a MUCH better recording than we ever gave it credit for. It’s a rare pressing that can bring this passionate, emotionally charged music to life, but the open, spacious soundstage and full-bodied tonality here are up to the challenge.

This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What excellent sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1978
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What The Best Pressings of Darkness On The Edge Of Town Have Going For Them

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Badlands
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy’s Room
Racing in the Streets

Side Two

The Promised Land
Factory
Streets of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town

Review

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Dave Marsh viewed Darkness on the Edge of Town as a landmark record in rock and roll because of the clarity of its production, Springsteen’s unique guitar playing, and the programming, which he said connected the characters and themes in a subtle yet cohesive manner. Marsh remarked that the subject matter of the songs fulfilled the hype that previously surrounded Springsteen: “What they’ve always said was that someday Bruce Springsteen would make rock & roll that would shake men’s souls and make them question the direction of their lives. That would do, in short, all the marvelous things rock had always promised to do.”

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, William Ruhlmann said that Springsteen began to fully realize his characters as working class on Darkness on the Edge of Town, whose “hard truths in hard rock settings” made for a less accessible work than Born to Run.

Rolling Stone later wrote that the album was the E Street Band’s best performance, “colored by the raw sound happening at the time”.

In 2003, it was ranked at number 151 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

According to Acclaimed Music, Darkness on the Edge of Town is the 103rd most frequently ranked record on critics’ all-time lists.

Wikipedia