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MIDNIGHT MADNESS II FOR BRUCE BUFFS

The trailer for THE PROMISE. Below, the E Street Shuffle, which pays sonic homage to Springsteen as Jack’s Music hosts a midnight release event for the new Springsteen box based on the classic LP DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

By TOM CHESEK

estreetshuffleThey came to Red Bank from every cul-de-sac and corner of suburbia, word of mouth spreading like wildfire (this in an era way before the whole Twitter thing) as they negotiated the dark and unfamiliar streets of what was then called New Jersey’s Hippest Town. Sleepy-eyed grownups in jammies and hastily-grabbed jackets filling the aisles of Jack’s Music Shoppe and straining for a look at the man in the Seattle Mariners cap.

The year was 2001, the event a midnight release of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live in New York City — and the special surprise guest was none other than the Boss himself, marking his official reunion with the E team at the record store which, more than any other, served as a career-spanning touchstone for the local boy made god.

Pictures from that memorable midnight, once commonly found online, have apparently disappeared from general circulation — eaten away, perhaps, by litigious bacteria. But on Monday night, the edge of downtown will sport a little less darkness, as Jack Anderson’s duplex diskerie hosts a special late-nite release event in honor of The Promise, the all-new/ all-old expansion of the 1978 Springsteen landmark Darkness on the Edge of Town.

The only thing not promised for the night is another personal appearance by Bruce — but, since that sort of talk has seldom served to keep diehard Bossbuffs home, the folks at Jack’s have engineered a winning hand of diversions for all of the in-person faithful.

What is being promised, according to store manager Chris Van Orden, is a round of giveaways and prizes, free food and bev, plus live in-store music, courtesy of Shore-based Brucesters The E Street Shuffle. The band (whose other upcoming gigs include New Year’s Eve at Sea Bright’s Mad Hatter) is scheduled to perform an hour-long set that kicks off at the Chelsea-Lately hour of 11p.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, the register begins to ring for not one but two new releases — including The Promise, a two-CD collection of never-before-issued recordings (just how deep into the earth is that vault, anyway?) from the Darkness sessions that includes a revved up “Racing in the Street,” first listens of now-familiar songs (“Fire,” “Because the Night”) and even a Diana Ross cover.

Also available is a Deluxe Package box set that boasts three full-length CDs, two DVDs of sought-after live footage from the mid-70s, and a DVD copy of the documentary feature The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. The HBO production by director Thom Zimny was recently shown for free on the big screen of the Count Basie Theatre (where the Boss performed Darkness and Born to Run in their entirety at a 2008 fundraiser concert), and Jack’s will be displaying it as well for your shopping pleasure.

At the heart of it all is the remastered Darkness, a seminal piece of work that followed Born to Run by some three years — an eternity back in the 1970s. Moodier but no less impassioned than its breakthrough predecessor, the album marked Springsteen’s long-delayed emancipation from his old management; revealing a still-young but maturing superstar (more of a cult favorite than a platinum-plated icon in those days) who had lost the beard, the po’boy cap — and a lot of the street-romantic idealism — as he endeavored to find his place in a shifting music biz. It’s a real bridge between Boss epochs; the end product of one of the strangest interludes (during which he contributed to the first couple of Jukes albums, let slip some legendary bootlegs and built up anticipation as never before) in a publicly private career.

The Promise promises of course to remain a grand and glorious gift idea for the duration of the holiday shopping season (can Big Mouth Brucey Bass be far behind?), and Jack’s Music will remain poised to serve, ’til Santa comes to town and then some.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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