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In the introductory essay that forms part of the lavish packaging of The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story, Springsteen offers an insight into what was inspiring his music in the mid '70s: “I was still held in thrall by the towering pop records that had shaped my youth.”
That’s clearly evident among the 21 tracks we get to hear for the first time on the second and third discs of this release; a dizzying ride through American popular music, liberally borrowing instantly familiar motifs. The 10 tracks that comprised Darkness' on its release in 1978 were carefully chosen to reaffirm Springsteen’s literate singer-songwriter reputation, but the music here is less concerned with cementing a specific identity.
"'Darkness' was my 'samurai' record," Springsteen writes, "stripped to the frame and ready to rumble. But the music that got left behind was substantial." Having had three years to wait while management and legal wrangles prevented him from delivering any new music to the masses, Bruce nonetheless continued to record at Record Plant Studios in New York, not laying down working demos, but conjuring up fully-formed band recordings, many of which rank among his best work.