THIS DAY IN NEW YORK HISTORY
Thirty-six years ago today (January 5, 1973), Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. It was recorded in a single week at 914 Studios in upstate New York, 45 miles north of the City. The location and accelerated recording schedule enabled Bruce and his first manager, Mike Appel, to save as much as possible from the Columbia Records’ advance.
The album was hailed by critics, but largely ignored by the record-buying public. Two now-classic songs, “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night” were released as singles, but went nowhere on the charts. In fact, the album sold only 25,000 copies in its first year. The success of Born to Run two years later led listeners to rediscover Bruce’s first album, which would ultimately sell 2 million copies. Rolling Stone magazine would later rank it 379th on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (November 18, 2003).
In a review published that summer in Rolling Stone, Lester Bangs wrote that Springsteen
makes a point of letting us know that he’s from
one of the scuzziest, most useless and plain uninteresting sections of
Jersey. He’s been influenced a lot by the Band, his arrangements tend
to take on a Van Morrison tinge every now and then, and he sort of
catarrh-mumbles his ditties in a disgruntled mushmouth sorta like
Robbie Robertson on Quaaludes with Dylan barfing down the back of his
neck. It’s a tuff combination, but it’s only the beginning.
Bangs concluded his review by advising us to watch out for Springsteen: “Bruce Springsteen is a bold new talent with more
than a mouthful to say, and one look at the pic on the back will tell
you he’s got the glam to go places in this Gollywoodlawn world to boot.” Yes, indeed.
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid hearing the album, you can listen to it online at brucespringsteen.net. Meanwhile, Bruce’s new album, Working on a Dream, is scheduled to be released on January 27. You can pre-order it amazon.com.
Here’s the official video for “My Lucky Day,” the first single from the new album.
Bangs was fired by the editor Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner, later in 1973, for a negative review of the band Canned Heat that Wenner called “disrespectful to musicians.” Bangs went on to edit and write for the magazine Creem and became a legendary, gonzo-style rock journalist and critic. You can read a last interview with him here.