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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Revisiting Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. - Bruce Springsteen (1973)

Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. - Bruce Springsteen
Produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos
Released 5th January 1973 
US Album Chart #60
UK Album Chart #41

A1 Blinded By The Light    
A2 Growin' Up    
A3 Mary Queen Of Arkansas    
A4 Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?    
A5 Lost In The Flood    
B1 The Angel    
B2 For You    
B3 Spirit In The Night    
B4 It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City

Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, handclaps
Clarence Clemons – saxophone, backing vocals, handclaps
    Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez – drums, backing vocals, handclaps
    David Sancious – piano, organ, keyboards
    Garry Tallent – bass guitar
    Richard Davis – upright double bass on "The Angel"
    Harold Wheeler – piano on "Blinded By the Light" and "Spirit In The Night"
    Steven Van Zandt – sound effects on "Lost in the Flood"

Song-by-song musician credits
1. Blinded by the Light
    Springsteen – guitar, electric bass, keyboards, vocals
    Clemons – saxophone, backing vocals
    Lopez – drums, backing vocals
    Wheeler – piano

2. Growin' Up
    Springsteen – guitar, vocals
    Lopez – drums
    Sancious – piano, keyboards
    Tallent – electric bass

3. Mary Queen of Arkansas
    Springsteen – guitar, harmonica, vocals

4. Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?
    Springsteen – guitar, vocals
    Lopez – drums
    Sancious – piano
    Tallent – electric bass

5. Lost in the Flood
    Springsteen – vocals
    Lopez – drums
    Sancious – piano, organ
    Tallent – electric bass
    Van Zandt – sound effects

6. The Angel
    Springsteen- vocals
    Davis – double bass
    Sancious – piano

7. For You
    Springsteen – guitar, vocals
    Lopez – drums
    Sancious – piano, keyboards
    Tallent – electric bass

8. Spirit in the Night
    Springsteen – piano, electric bass, clapping, vocals
    Clemons – saxophone, clapping, backing vocals
    Lopez – drums, clapping, backing vocals

9. It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
    Springsteen – guitar, vocals
    Lopez – drums
    Sancious – piano
    Tallent – electric bass

Singles on Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.
Blinded By The Light / The Angel
February 1973
Did Not Chart

 (US 7" Promo Picture Sleeve)

7" contains Blinded By The Light on both sides in Mono one side and Stereo the other side.

 Spirit In The Night / For You
May 1973
Did Not Chart

Full Audio Live Performance from 22nd November 2009 was released just before Christmas. This show contains the first full performance of Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.

 Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.
Buffalo 2009
Fan Videos


The very first musical Postcard from New Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen was released on this day in 1973. Whilst not a huge selling album at the time (apparently only 25,000 copies were sold in the first year!) it has gone on to sell vast amounts and be certified Double Platinum in the USA.

I still remember as a nine year old boy hearing Blinded By The Light for the first time on the radio and it really sounded like music from another world, and I don't think I had ever heard that many words crammed into a song before! The song had been released as a single in America and would be a song that would be more known for the version recorded by Manfred Mann's Earth Band that went to #1 in the USA and #6 in the UK back in 1977. It's funny because the single release before Blinded was a huge hit for them was a version of Spirit In The Night (called Spirits In The Night) that reached #40 in the USA. Not content with recording two songs that featured on Greetings From Asbury Park, Manfred Mann's Earth Band would also record a version of For You for their 1980 album Chance.

The album might have been a little bit different to what it finally ended up as the original plan via a compromise was to include five band songs ("For You", "Growin' Up", "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?", "It's Hard to be a Saint in the City", and "Lost in the Flood") and five solo songs ("Mary Queen of Arkansas", "The Angel", "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights" and "Visitation At Fort Horn").

When Clive Davis (President of Columbia Records) heard a playback of the album he felt that it was lacking a hit single. So Springsteen went away and  wrote and recorded "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night" (both were released as singles and neither was the hit that Davis had been looking for!). Because pianist David Sancious and bassist Garry Tallent were unavailable to record these songs, a three-man band was used - Vini Lopez on drums, Springsteen on guitar, bass, and piano, and the previously missing Clarence Clemons on saxophone. These two songs bumped "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights", and "Visitation At Fort Horn", leaving a total of seven band songs and two solo songs. The album was originally slated to be released in the fall of 1972, but it was moved back to early 1973 to avoid the pre-Christmas crush.

As seems to be Springsteen's normal studio work, more songs were recorded for the album than were needed.There's a bootleg of Outtakes that's been floating around for a good number of years that's worth checking out.

Seven of the songs on the album are still played live: Blinded By The Light/Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street, Growin' Up, Lost In The Flood, For You, Spirit In The Night, and It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City

Unlike Springsteen's latter working ethic in the studio the album was recorded in the space of a week in a pretty low-rent studio and so it lacks the energy of his live performances and listening back to it all these years later it is an album that sounds really dated. After hearing many of the live versions of the songs on it going back to this studio release is a bit of a shock to the system because it really sounds quite primitive! I still really like the album a lot but it doesn't get played as much as did way back when I was a kid.

My favourite track on it is still Growin' Up and that hasn't changed since I first heard it way back in 1973 (though these days I much prefer the many live versions).

The performing of the album in Buffalo back in 2009 for the first time ever was also the final show that would feature The Big Man Clarence Clemons on the Saxophone.

Notes On Songs From Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. Covered By Other Artists

(The single was a huge hit in the USA reaching #1 and is taken from their 1977 album The Roaring Silence
There is also very poor sort of Disco Cover Version of the song by Joyce Berry that I really do not have the heart to post as I fear I may cause an influx of patients at local hospitals! I leave it to you the reader to check it out if you are brave enough!)

(It was included on the 1990 Rykodisc Resissue of Pinups and also the 2004 30th Anniversary release of the album Diamond Dogs)

(1977 Single on the Berserkley label and was taken from the album Again. Khin would also go on to record another Springsteen song, Rendezvous, on the Greg Khin Band album With The Naked Eye in 1979)

(On the 1975 Nightingales and Bombers album and was released twice as a single, the first time in 1976 it peaked at #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 - this was the album version and featured the vocals of Mick Rogers and then again in 1977 it became a Top 40 single in the USA for the band but this time the vocal was by Chris Thompson)

(Included on the 1989 Compilation Sound + Vision and was an Outtake from Station To Station).

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