The young Bruce Springsteen, who grew up from home with country in the style of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, earned his first spurs in his early bands Castiles, Earth or Child, as well as a hard rock formation called Steel Mill. A few singles were recorded and pressed, but the young Springsteen was not yet really satisfied with his musical career. From January 1971 Bruce played again and again in various jam sessions, from which the band Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom developed. At that time there were already some of his later comrades-in-arms such as Gary Tallent, David Sancious, Danny Federici, Vini Lopez or Steven Van Zandt. The Sundance Blues Band was a transitional project before Bruce founded his own formation, the Bruce Springsteen Band, in the summer of ’71, with which he could best implement his own musical ideas. The talent scout John Henry Hammond III became aware of Springsteen at some point and signed the young guy for the record company Columbia Records. It was originally planned to record a folk album, but Bruce brought his band to 914 Sound Studios in Blanvelt, Rockland County, New York. From October 1972 Bruce worked on the songs of his first album. Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos were on board as producers, Luis Lahav sat at the controls of the mixing console. On January 5, 1973, the debut album Greetings from Asbury Park N.J. was finally seen. the light of the world.
Let’s start with “Blinded by the Light”, in which the intro is shredded almost in the style of the Allman Brothers. Guitar and saxophone determine rhythm and melody, Bruce Springsteen’s voice is enthroned on top in a concise manner. Lyrically, Bruce tells us about a girlie who was “blinded by the light, worn like a devil and just another speedster in the night“. Problems and experiences of a young guy in search of the meaning of life.
A few sparkling piano chords from the keys of David Sancious introduce “Growin’ up”. Bruce’s voice is in the foreground and a medium-fast number builds up, dominated by the acoustic guitar and the ingenious bass runs of Gary Tallent. After a good two-thirds, a groovy piano solo sounds. The song captivates with its ups and downs of quiet piano parts and the faster guitar part.
Crystal-clear acoustic guitar chords form the introduction to the abducted “Mary Queen of Arkansas”. Springsteen sings in the style of Bob Dylan, sluggish, almost painful, accompanied only by the acoustic and a harmonica placed over it, which occasionally reminds of the song of death from the well-known film.
“Does this Bus stop at 82nd Street?” asks Bruce in the song of the same name, which drifts along in timeless medium-fast Americana style.
It becomes elegiac calm in the following “Lost in the Flood” and again the pain-filled touch in the vocals comes to light. Based mainly on piano chords, one notices the very prominent drums, which are played by Vincent “Loper” Lopez. The further the song progresses, whistling tones sound, possibly from a mellotron, and an organ that emits almost sacred sounds.
You can almost feel an apocalyptic mood in the intro to “The Angel”. Individual piano tones with the elegiac voice of Bruce. The individual notes become chords and now the big man comes to light. Deep dragging tones from the saxophone of Clarence Clemons, which had hardly been noticed before.
In a nice mid-tempo, “For you” begins and trots along. A nice song to drive a convertible, arm hanging out of the window and along a coastal road along the sea.
The Big Man can be heard again at the beginning of the following song. “Spirit in the Night” – a swinging song that inevitably makes you rock along and puts a grin on your face. Finger snapping is announced. Clemons‘ variations form a nice link between the piano sounds and the guitar.
Acoustic chords and a sparkling piano form the slow entry and then the track picks up speed. “It’s hard to be a Saint in the City” sings the boss and you can feel how he may have fared at the beginning of the 70s as a 23-year-old. Woe betide them if they let go…
Who Greetings from Asbury Park N.J. listens to it for the first time, he will be surprised to find that he has already heard one or the other song in another version. In terms of sales, the record was quite a failure at the time. The critics, on the other hand, rated it very highly and also the esteemed colleagues immediately noticed the quality flowing from the pen of Mr. Springsteen. The South African jack-of-all-trades Manfred Mann with his Earth Band has already covered two songs from it in the mid-70s, which, unlike the boss, also became hits. “Spirits in the Night” on the 75 album Nightingales & Bombers and “Blinded by the Light” on The roaring Silence from 1976. This version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band gave the boss the only number 1 single hit in the USA. And what has worked well twice, you can also do a third time. On the 80s album Chance “For you” can be found, which in turn became a hit. David Bowie also used the excellent song material from the Greetings and also covered three songs from it. He brought “Growin’ up” and “It’s hard to be a Saint in the City” solo to the people, and with the astronettes he muddled “Blinded by the Light”.
For many years, Greetings from Asbury Park N.J. a rather underrated album from the boss. Little noticed by the public, it only really blossomed after a good 20 years and received its status as an excellent debut album by Bruce Springsteen.
Greetings from Asbury Park N.J.
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 – Vocals, Guitars, Congas, Harmonica
Clarence Clemons – Saxophon
Gary Tallent – Bass
Vincent “Loper” Lopez – Drums
David Sancious – Piano, Organ
Harold Wheeler – Piano A1 + B3