Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise” is a compilation of songs recorded during the sessions that produced 1978’s, “Darkness at the Edge of Town.”
While a few songs on “The Promise” are merely different versions of already released songs — a stripped down version of “Because the Night,” from before Patti Smith covered it and made the song a hit, is the best — the majority of the album’s 22 tracks are previously unreleased material.
The highlight of the CD is the title track. In typical Springsteen style, “The Promise” is a story about love, loss and working class people driving down lonely New Jersey highways. It is reminiscent of classic songs such as “Thunder Road” and “Racing in the Street,” a version of which appears on the album, with its keyboards and sweeping melody. Other standouts are the upbeat “Ain’t Good Enough for You” and the melancholy “The Way.”
Some material on “The Promise” was later reworked and released as other songs. “Spanish Eyes” contains lyrics heard in “I’m on Fire,” from “Born in the U.S.A.” while “Candy’s Boy” is an early, more cheerful incarnation of 1978’s “Candy’s Room.” These tracks provide an interesting look at the evolution of an idea into a classic song.
The album’s low point is “It’s a Shame,” a song with nearly the same melody as the far more enjoyable “Ain’t Good Enough for You.” It’s reprise-like mimicry of the earlier song interrupts the flow of the album, and the lyrics are dull. However, it is the only misfire on an otherwise solid album.
The songs on “The Promise” were recorded just after the release of “Born to Run,” when Springsteen had just become a star and was creating the best music of his career. “The Promise” is an album full of catchy songs — a must have for die-hard fans of “The Boss.”