Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) by Bruce Springsteen

Sometimes I feel like I go on and on about how I think Springsteen is overrated. At least a little of that is because I feel like I have to compensate for all the rock critics who told people Springsteen “saved rock and roll music from disco” or whatever the fuck. But part of that is I also just don’t love the guy. I find his songs to be only alright – I only encounter the odd one I think is really stellar – and I generally hate his attitude towards record production – though there are exceptions. This one is sort of one of those exceptions, and I find myself thinking “This is pretty good.”

But let me start out by saying that Springsteen’s guitar paying on “Adam Raised a Cain” is probably the highlight for me for this record, and certainly one of the best moments I’ve heard from him. (The song is particularly unhinged, in a way I don’t know that I’ve ever heard him in studio.)

Though that track is the only that really grabs me, the rest of the songs are good enough – sometimes it’s the song that’s stellar, and sometimes it’s the performance that is notable. But the important thing is that this is absolutely not Born to Run. Even at its most polished, this record never descends into the Spectoresque wall of sound that drowned that album, and which regularly makes Springsteen’s tales of the working class sound odd. (“Candy’s Room” is the the one track here that sounds way too much like Born to Run.)

I still don’t love Springsteen as a songwriter, and I still think that he regularly over-arranges his songs, but this might be the first album of his other than Nebraska that I actually like.


All tracks written by Bruce Springsteen.

  1. “Badlands” 4:03
  2. “Adam Raised a Cain” 4:32
  3. “Something in the Night” 5:11
  4. “Candy’s Room” 2:51
  5. “Racing in the Street” 6:53
  6. “The Promised Land” 4:33
  7. “Factory” 2:17
  8. “Streets of Fire” 4:09
  9. “Prove It All Night” 3:56
  10. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” 4:30
  • Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, lead guitar, harmonica, producer

The E Street Band

  • Roy Bittan – piano, backing vocals
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone, backing vocals
  • Danny Federici – organ, glockenspiel
  • Garry Tallent – bass guitar
  • Steve Van Zandt – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, production assistance
  • Max Weinberg – drums

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