Darkness on the Edge of Town is the fourth album by Bruce Springsteen, released in the late spring of 1978. The album marked the end of a three-year gap between albums brought on by contractual obligations and legal battling with former manager Mike Appel.[1] Although the album did not produce high charting singles it nevertheless remained on the charts for 97 weeks.[1]A steady seller in Springsteen's catalogue, it has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA.[2]

Although slightly less enthusiastic than for Springsteen's previous album Born to Run, reviews for Darkness on the Edge of Town were unanimously positive. Critics notably praised the maturity of the album's themes and lyrics.[3][4] It remains one of Springsteen's most highly regarded records by both fans and critics and several of its songs have become staples of the singer's live performances.[5][6]

In September 2010 a documentary film chronicling the making of Darkness was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Quoting Springsteen as saying “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy – I wanted to be great”, reviewer Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger commented: "For many fans, that long journey pulled onto the Turnpike here."[7]Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it at 150 on their list of the greatest albums of all time.


 [hide*1 History


Recovering from legal troubles and the stress of the breakthrough success of Born to Run, Springsteen released a somewhat less commercial album in Darkness on the Edge of Town.

In terms of the original LP's sequencing, Springsteen continued his "four corners" approach from Born to Run, as the songs beginning each side ("Badlands" and "The Promised Land") were martial rallying cries to overcome circumstances, while the songs ending each side ("Racing in the Street", "Darkness on the Edge of Town") were sad dirges of circumstances overcoming all hope. Unlike Born to Run, the songs were recorded by the full band at once, frequently soon after Springsteen had written them.[8] Steven Van Zandt received a credit for production assistance for helping Springsteen tighten the arrangements from Born to Run's epic sound.[8]

This collection of songs, each sung in the first person, was given unity by several recurring themes. The words “darkness” / “dark” appear in six of the tracks, while nine of them feature the words “night” / “tonight”. “They” are mentioned in eight songs as a general suggestion of nameless people who exert a negative influence. “Work” / “worked” / “working” form part of six songs, as do “dream” / “dreams”. Six songs feature Bruce or his characters “driving” / “racing” / “riding” or mentioning the names of cars. There are references to “blood”, "born", "love" / "loved" in four of the tracks. In the song "Racing in the Street," Springsteen alludes to Martha & the VandellasDancing in the Street with the lyric "Summer's here and the time is right for racing in the street," similar to the Rolling Stones' appropriation of the lyric in "Street Fightin' Man".

Though the album failed to generate any substantial hit singles ("Prove It All Night" made it into the Top 40 in the U.S. at #33, and follow-up "Badlands" just missed, peaking at #42), Darkness was critically well-received and claimed the number one slot on NME album of the year ranking. In 2003, the album was ranked number 151 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[9] The same year, the TV network VH1 named Darkness on the Edge of Town the 68th greatest album of all time.

The cover shot and inner sleeve photo were taken by photographer Frank Stefanko inside Stefanko's Haddonfield, New Jersey, home.[10] Springsteen says, "When I saw the picture I said, 'That's the guy in the songs.' I wanted the part of me that's still that guy to be on the cover. Frank stripped away all your celebrity and left you with your essence. That's what that record was about." [11]

A reissue box set was released in November 2010.[12][13][14] This had initially been planned for 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of the original album's release, but was delayed, presumably due to Springsteen's numerous other 2008 projects.[15] By January 2009, Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, was saying the project was still in the works: "When we can find six weeks to sit down and finish it I'm sure we will."[16]

A documentary entitled "The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town" was produced for the box set. The documentary premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2010 and aired on HBO on October 7, 2010.[17]

Live performance[edit]Edit

During the 'Wrecking Ball' tour Springsteen and the E Street Band performed Darkness on the Edge of Town in its entirety and in order in Stockholm, Sweden on 4 May 2013[18] and subsequently in London, England at Wembley Stadium on 15 June 2013 in the middle of the set and in Nijmegen, the Netherlands on 22 June 2013.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [19]
Billboard (favorable)[20]
Chicago Tribune [21]
Robert Christgau B+[22]
Rolling Stone positive[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [24]
Sounds (favorable) link
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[25]
Yahoo! Music (favorable) link
Zagat Survey link

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.

Side one

  1. "Badlands" – 4:01
  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

Side two

  1. "The Promised Land" – 4:33
  2. "Factory" – 2:17
  3. "Streets of Fire" – 4:09
  4. "Prove It All Night" – 3:56
  5. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" – 4:30

Unused material[edit]Edit

During the Darkness sessions, Springsteen wrote or recorded many songs that he ended up not using on the album. This was to keep the album's thematic feel intact, even at the expense of not having hits on it.[26] According to Jimmy Iovine, Springsteen wrote at least 70 songs during the sessions and 52 of those songs were recorded with some not fully completed. As of 2011, 33 of those songs have been officially released.[27]

Some of the unused material became hits for other artists, such as "Because the Night" for Patti Smith, "Fire" for Robert Gordon and The Pointer Sisters, "Rendezvous" for Greg Kihn, "This Little Girl" for Gary U.S. Bonds, and several tracks for Southside Johnny (including much of the Asbury Jukes' Hearts of Stone album). Other songs such as "Independence Day", "Point Blank", "The Ties That Bind", and "Sherry Darling" would turn up on Springsteen's next album,The River, while still others became bootleg classics until surfacing on Springsteen's compilations Tracks18 Tracks and The Promise. The Promise features 22 tracks from the Darkness sessions, many with modern vocal takes and added instruments and was released in November 2010 compilation (and also included in a box set). Some of these Darkness outtakes were performed by Springsteen in concert during his 1978 tour and later.

The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story box set[edit]Edit

A box set reissue, entitled The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, was released on November 16, 2010.[28] The six-disc set includes three CDs and three DVD or Blu-ray discs. This contains a remastered version of the Darkness on the Edge of Town album, a new two-CD album, The Promise containing 21 previously unreleased outtakes from the Darkness sessions, a documentary titled The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town and 2 DVDs of live performances.[29][30] The deluxe box set contains an 80 page spiral-bound reproduction of Springsteen’s original notebooks documenting the recording sessions for the album, containing alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details and personal notes.

The box set was in production for several years, and was originally expected to be released for the 30th anniversary in 2008. On August 4, 2010 it was announced[by whom?] that Springsteen was putting the finishing touches to the box set. The documentary received its première on September 14, 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival.[31][32] The Promise album is also available separately.

The box set was nominated for, and won, a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.[33]

Track listing[edit]Edit

CD 1 – "Darkness on the Edge of Town" (Digitally Remastered)

  1. Badlands
  2. Adam Raised a Cain
  3. Something in the Night
  4. Candy's Room
  5. Racing in the Street
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Factory
  8. Streets of Fire
  9. Prove It All Night
  10. Darkness on the Edge of Town

CD 2 – "The Promise" (Disc 1)

  1. Racing in the Street ('78)
  2. Gotta Get That Feeling
  3. Outside Looking In
  4. Someday (We'll Be Together)
  5. One Way Street
  6. Because the Night
  7. Wrong Side of the Street
  8. The Brokenhearted
  9. Rendezvous
  10. Candy's Boy

CD 3 – "The Promise" (Disc 2)

  1. Save My Love
  2. Ain't Good Enough for You
  3. Fire
  4. Spanish Eyes
  5. It's a Shame
  6. Come On (Let's Go Tonight)
  7. Talk to Me
  8. The Little Things (My Baby Does)
  9. Breakaway
  10. The Promise
  11. City of Night
  12. The Way (hidden track)

DVD 1 – The Promise: The Making of "Darkness on the Edge of Town" A documentary directed by Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny. The ninety-minute film combines never-before-seen footage of Springsteen and the E Street Band shot between 1976 and 1978—including home rehearsals and studio sessions—with new interviews with Springsteen, E Street Band members, manager Jon Landau, former-manager Mike Appel, and others closely involved in the making of the record. An edited version of the documentary was broadcast by the BBC.

DVD 2 – "Darkness on the Edge of Town": Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park & Thrill Hill Vault: 1976–1978 An intimate and complete album performance of "Darkness on the Edge of Town" at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey, shot in 2009. Never-before seen archival footage from the Thrill Hill Vault including complete song performances taken from private band rehearsals, studio sessions, and live concerts during the “Darkness” era.

  1. Badlands
  2. Adam Raised a Cain
  3. Something in the Night
  4. Candy's Room
  5. Racing in the Street
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Factory
  8. Streets of Fire
  9. Prove It All Night
  10. Darkness on the Edge of Town

Thrill Hill Vault (1976–1978)

  1. Save My Love (Holmdel, NJ – '76)
  2. Candy's Boy (Holmdel, NJ – '76)
  3. Something in the Night (Red Bank, NJ – '76)
  4. Don't Look Back (NYC – '78)
  5. Ain't Good Enough for You (NYC – '78)
  6. The Promise (NYC – '78)
  7. Candy's Room Demo (NYC – '78)
  8. Badlands (Phoenix – '78)
  9. The Promised Land (Phoenix – '78)
  10. Prove It All Night (Phoenix – '78)
  11. Born to Run (Phoenix – '78)
  12. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (Phoenix – '78)

DVD 3 – Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut Previously unreleased complete concert performance from the Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour.

  1. Badlands
  2. Streets of Fire
  3. It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town
  5. Spirit in the Night
  6. Independence Day
  7. The Promised Land
  8. Prove It All Night
  9. Racing in the Street
  10. Thunder Road
  11. Jungleland
  12. The Ties That Bind
  13. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  14. The Fever
  15. Fire
  16. Candy's Room
  17. Because the Night
  18. Point Blank
  19. She's the One
  20. Backstreets
  21. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  22. Born to Run
  23. Detroit Medley
  24. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  25. You Can't Sit Down
  26. Quarter to Three


The E Street Band[edit]Edit


Chart positions[edit]Edit


Year Chart Position
1978 U.S. Billboard Pop Albums 5
1985 U.S. Billboard 200 167
2010 U.S. Billboard 200 16


Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Prove It All Night" U.S. Billboard Pop Singles 33
1978 "Badlands" U.S. Billboard Pop Singles 42
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