Call this Triumph Of the Spirit. Barred from recording for two years because of a messy legal dispute with his then-manager, Mike Appel, a vindicated Bruce Springsteen hit the studio in 1977, bound and determined to better Born To Run in every way. He spent a year trying to do so, practically going crazy in the process.
All of which is told on a full-length documentary directed by Thom Zimny on the first of three DVDs included here. The other two feature concerts, one from 2009 (at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park - it's pretty good) and the other from 1978 (a bootleg from Houston, and it's incredible!).
But the real selling point of The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story are the CDs containing the remastered original album and the 21 unreleased songs recorded during the period. Cuts such as The Brokenhearted, Ain't Good Enough For You and Spanish Eyes have an enchanting, sweet and naive quality to them. But it's Bruce's rendering of the hits he gave away - Fire (to The Pointer Sisters) and Because The Night (to Patti Smith) - that offer a startling peak into a lyrical world he had only flirted with in the past: pure animal sex.
The Boss' scalding guitar work that informed much of the original Darkness is largely absent on the unreleased material, but Clarence Clemons' sax bursts through like a spirit in the night.
Need any more convincing? Check out our recent track-by-track review of The Promise's new material.