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2023/4 Albums Thing 348 - Bruce Springsteen “Chapter And Verse”

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A compilation issued to act as a soundtrack to Springsteen’s biography “Born To Run”. It’s an 18 track album and 12 of those tracks are the kinds of things you’d expect to find on a best of Bruce Springsteen album with some of the writers favourites that fit the narrative thrown in. The gems to be found in here are the the first 6 tracks on side one.

Tracks 1 and 2 are by The Castiles, Springsteen’s first band. ”Baby I” was co-written by Springsteen and is a sprightly 60’s Garage band romp. After listening to a lot of US Garage band comps (Rubble, Pebbles etc.) in my time it’s not the best but I’ve also heard much, much worse. It does owe more than a passing nod of gratitude to Them’s “Gloria”. “You Can’t Judge A Book by The Cover” was recorded a year later in 1967 at a gig at a teen club in a church in New Jersey. It’s been very cleaned up for presentation here but it still screams of why recordings like this are usually confined to bootlegs (hint: they’re not very good!).

Next up is “He’s Guilty (The Judge Song)” by Steel Mill who were Springsteen’s early 70’s heavy rock outfit. Lot’s of loud guitars, unnecessaryily dull soloing and bad lyrics (“speeding, running down his mother, Stabbing his wife then strangling her lover”). Very of it’s time and again, not really very good.

That’s followed by the Bruce Springsteen Bands “Jesse James”. Springsteen’s voice is starting to sound like Springsteen’s voice and the sound has taken on a lot of The Band, there's a hint of what will be come to be known as Americana, slide guitars and the feel of the country. We’re also covering subject matter (the wild west thing) that Springsteen will return to later. The Bruce Springsteen Band is a direct ancestor of the E Street Band featuring as it did Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, Steve Van Zandt, Garry Tallent and David Sancious. It’s better, we're now headed in a direction we can recognise.

“Henry Boy” is a distant relative of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” but this time it’s just Bruce and his acoustic guitar ala some tracks on his debut album. The melody from the off is that which we would later come to know as “Rosalita…” hence why we didn’t get to here "Henry Boy" followed up on. It’s the best of these 5 songs but as it obviously morphed into something else it’s not some great undiscovered classic.

Finally the version of “Growin’ Up” presented here is a Bruce and his acoustic take rather than the later full band take on “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ”. This is a demo recorded the day after Springsteen auditioned for John Hammond at Columbia in NYC on May 1972. It’s a great song and it’s a treat to hear it like this. Weirdly the next record we'll look at opens with an acoustic version of “Growin’ Up”...may the circle be unbroken.

This one is definitely one for the hardcore fans, ya know those of us that would shell out for a double LP just for the six racks on one side ! The other 3 sides do make a very handy Springsteen primer for the casual listener and a great soundtrack while reading his biography.

Henry Boy - https://youtu.be/lbc5Kus_Lkw?si=KC_7deJInE0k0IVF

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