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Monday, 5 January 2015

Rewind: A Postcard From New Jersey. (1973)

January 5th 1973, 42 years ago, a certain musician called Bruce Springsteen sent out a musical postcard, his first in what would become a journey that would span more than four decades and counting.

It's quite funny thinking that after the first year of release that the album had only sold 25,000 copies! Now it has gone Double Platinum!!

01 Blinded by the Light
02 Growin' Up
03 Mary Queen of Arkansas
04 Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
05 Lost in the Flood
06 The Angel
07 For You
08 Spirit in the Night
09 It's Hard To Be A Saint in the City

Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. is only just over 37mins long but man there's enough in there in the nine songs to get a picture of what life in N.J. was all about. As a kid when I first heard 'Blinded By The Light' I was stunned as this sounded like music from another world altogether, a couple of years later it would be a massive hit for Manfred Mann's Earth Band. 'Growin' Up' I somehow felt was going to be a vital song for me even if as a ten year old kid I didn't totally understand everything he was talking about. 'Mary Queen of Arkansas' felt out of place and a bit Bob Dylan like (though I never knew until later that they were calling him "the new Bob Dylan"). 'Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street' was more like the opening two tracks, nice and lively. 'Lost In The Flood' was like listening to a movie script put to song. 'The Angel' was another one that almost sounded out of place, played only on a piano but very picturesque. 'For You' surely was a hit single in the making (but only two singles were released from the album and both did nothing to dent the charts! Manfred Mann again would release this song in 1980 as a single ...didn't they write their own songs! Greg Khin's cover in 1977 though was received favourably by Springsteen and remains a favourite cover version of mine). 'Spirit in the Night' was the second single from the album and nowadays it's a real barnburner in concert (Manfred Mann's Earth Band - them again!- released a cover of it as a single but changed the title to Spirits in the Night). 'It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City' was another favourite off the album from me and I was more than a little shocked to discover that David Bowie had covered it in 1975 but hadn't released it until 1989! 
Many of the songs from the album are still part and parcel of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's live shows, only 'The Angel' is absent these days! But for one night only back in 2009 Bruce and the band played the whole album front to back, including the first ever live performance of 'The Angel':

Date: 22nd November 2009
Place: HSBC Arena Buffalo
Tour: Working On A Dream (Final Night)

 "Tonight! One time only!" — the 'Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.' album, start to finish. "This was the miracle," he said, "This was the record that took everything from way below zero to... one." That got a big laugh. Bruce went on to speak of John Hammond, "one of the great legends of music production," and of manager Mike Appel, whose "incredible talking" got him a crucial audition with said legend. Tonight's album performance was dedicated "to the man who got me in the door. Mike Appel is here tonight — Mike, this is for you." He added, "We've never done it... hope we can do it!"
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