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Bruce Springsteen vinyl and compact disc collectibles from the Eighties

Updated on October 1, 2016
Bruce Springsteen, 2009
Bruce Springsteen, 2009 | Source

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park,N.J.” I’ve been following the Boss’s musical career since August 1981, after seeing him and the E Street Band in concert for the first time at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Since that magical Springsteen show, I’ve been buying his vinyl albums and compact discs from the U.S, U.K.,Japan, and elsewhere. Interest in The Boss was strongest worldwide in the 1980’s, especially with the release of the mega selling “Born in the U.S.A.” album. So, here’s a group of unique 1980’s items from my Bruce Springsteen audio collection:

1) Bruce Springsteen As Requested Around the World-1981: I purchased this U.S. radio promo sampler album at a record convention shortly after the L.A. Springsteen concert. It featured just nine tracks. Side one consisted of five songs from Springsteen’s then latest album, “The River”, including his first top five U.S. single, “Hungry Heart”. Side two opened with the classic “Born to Run” followed by two cuts from “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, and finished with the seven minute “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” from Springsteen’s second album, “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle”.

The cover featured a great shot of Springsteen playing his Fender Esquire guitar in concert. The back side showed a large photo of Springsteen and the E Street Band together, with a list of the cities played on The River tour.

Bruce Springsteen As Requested Around The World LP

2) Dancing in the Dark (Extended Version)-1984-U.K. 12-inch single: This first single from the “Born in the U.S.A.” album would bring The Boss his highest charting U.S. hit, at number two. In 1984, many hit singles would be released on 12-inch vinyl, including an extended version of the A side. Such was the case with “Dancing in the Dark”, which was remixed by Arthur Baker. Baker was busy during that time producing dance remixes of tracks by Cyndi Lauper, Hall & Oates, Pet Shop Boys, and others. Many diehard Springsteen fans were not happy that The Boss had an extended dance mix added to his record catalog. This version of “Dancing in the Dark” included echo, repeated lines (“You sit around getting older”), synthesizer effects, and more. The B-side, “Pink Cadillac”, would be covered by Natalie Cole in 1988 for a U.S. and U.K. Top Ten hit.

Dancing in the Dark U.K. 12-inch single

Dancing in the Dark (original, not extended version)

3) Cover Me (Extended Dance Mix)-1984-U.K. 12-inch single: The follow-up single to “Dancing in the Dark” was also released in an Extended Dance Mix. The A side featured the special Arthur Baker “Cover Me” remix along with Springsteen’s July 1981 live version of the Tom Waits song, “Jersey Girl”. That tune would be used two years later as the final track on Springsteen’s “Live 1975-1985” box set. The B side track was a dub version of “Dancing in the Dark”. The picture sleeve featured a great shot of Springsteen in his “Born in the U.S.A.” album cover outfit of white t-shirt and blue jeans, leaping in the air while holding his guitar. This image would be used for one of the t-shirts sold during the “Born in the U.S.A.” tour. Springsteen must have liked the “Cover Me” dance mix, because he incorporated parts of it into the live version of the song played on tour. The dance mix also featured background vocalist Jocelyn Brown prominently. A trivia note is that Springsteen originally wrote “Cover Me” for Donna Summer to record. The Boss’s manager Jon Landau nixed that idea after being impressed with Springsteen and the E Street Band’s demo of the song. Springsteen penned another song for “The Queen of Disco”, “Protection”.

Cover Me U.K. 12-inch single

4) War -1986-U.K. 12-inch single: The first single released from the “Live 1975-1985” box set was this cover of Edwin Starr’s 1970 U.S. number one hit. Recorded in September 1985 at an L.A. Coliseum concert, the version heard here includes Springsteen’s brief intro in which he warned the audience, "Blind faith in your leaders, or anything, will get you killed...cause what I'm talking about here is...War!" Also featured on the single was The Boss’s live version of Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby”, recorded in December 1980 at New York’s Nassau Coliseum, and the ten minute long “Incident on 57th Street” also taped during the same concert stand. The “War” single itself reached number eight in the U.S. Upon its November 1986 release, the five record, three CD, or three cassette “Live 1975-1985” album became the first box set to debut at number one on the U.S. album charts.

War UK 12-inch single

5) Live Collection I-1987-Japan CD single: Two tracks left off the “Live 1975-1985” album ended up on this four song CD single. One, “Incident on 57th Street”, was initially found on the “War” 12 inch single listed above. The other, “For You” came from a July 1978 concert held at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.

During 1978, Springsteen was on the road in America promoting his then latest album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. Several of those shows were broadcast live on radio, with The Roxy concert being one of them. The live version of “Fire” on this disc came from a December 1978 concert from San Francisco’s Winterland Auditorium. That show was two months before The Pointer Sisters had a top five U.S.hit with their version of the song. “Rosalita” on this CD was also taken from The Roxy show.

Live Collection I-Japan CD

6) One Step Up-1988-Netherlands CD single: Springsteen’s follow-up to the “Born in the U.S.A.” album was the less loud and “big noise” oriented “Tunnel of Love”. It was mostly a solo Springsteen album, as the complete E Street Band lineup did not perform together on any of the songs. “The Big Man”, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, was only heard providing background vocals on one album track (“When You’re Alone”). Springsteen’s first marriage to actress Julianne Phillips was ending while recording “Tunnel”, and the songs reflected this. “One Step Up” was the third single released from the album.

“One Step Up” was paired with two new songs on this disc. “Roulette” dated back to 1979, and was Springsteen’s reaction to the 3 Mile Island nuclear meltdown. Springsteen and the E Street Band would perform the song during 1988’s “Tunnel of Love” Express tour. “Lucky Man” was an outtake from the “Tunnel of Love” recording sessions. It would appear a decade later on Springsteen’s rarities box set, “Tracks”.

What makes this particular release unique is that it was pressed on the 3-inch CD single format. In approximately 1988, the full size, 5-inch compact discs were becoming more and more popular. In this case, the 3-inch CD mini single would be easier to carry around than the regular sized ones, and featured just two or three tracks much like the 7-inch vinyl single. So, the record companies released these 3-inch mini CD singles as almost a digital equivalent to the analog 7-inch vinyl single. Cassette singles, at the time, were widely available, too. The “One Step Up” mini CD single came with a plastic adapter, so the disc could be played in any CD unit.

One Step Up Netherlands mini CD single

7) Spare Parts-1988-Austria CD single: Another “Tunnel of Love” track made its way onto the 3-inch mini CD single format, “Spare Parts”. In addition, the single featured “Pink Cadillac” on CD for the first time in a European country. Also included was a live version of “Spare Parts” taken from a July 1988 Springsteen and the E Street Band concert in Sheffield,England. The fourth track was Springsteen’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom”, recorded live in Stockholm, just days before the Sheffield show. The first half of the Stockholm concert was broadcast via satellite to radio stations around the world. In the U.S., Springsteen’s live " Chimes of Freedom” was released in August 1988 as the title track of a 3-inch mini CD single to benefit Amnesty International. But for some reason, the U.S. version edited out the song’s intro. The U.S. “Chimes of Freedom” Springsteen disc also did not come in a picture sleeve.

In September 1988, Springsteen and the E Street Band joined Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracey Chapman, and Youssou N’Dour on “Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now!” tour. Following the last concert date in Buenos Aires, Springsteen and the E Street Band would not tour again until 1999.

Spare Parts Austria mini CD single


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