Title: Tape Deck Blastin'
01 Born In The U.S.A.
02 Murder Incorporated
03 My Love Will Not Let You Down
04 Glory Days
05 Working On The Highway
06 I'm Goin' Down
07 This Hard Land
09 I'm On Fire
10 Downbound Train
11 Darlington County
Outtakes and alternate takes from the Born in the USA sessions were talked about and even started to circulate almost as soon as the album was released in June 1984. In press reports and interviews at the time, mentions were made of intriguing cuts like the original "long version" of the title track, which lasted nearly nine minutes, and "Glory Days," featuring an extra verse cut from the released version that referenced the "Metuchen Ford plant assembly line."
But the copies of this material which initially passed into collectors' hands were of mediocre quality. Those were the days of cassette dubs (or, God-forbid, high-speed cassette dubs) which sucked precious fidelity from the source material with each subsequent copy. Given questionable sources to begin with and copies circulating many generations down from the master, the first Born in the USA outtakes we got to hear were pretty rough.
Several different traunches of BIUSA material eventually leaked on cassette, but the one represented here came to be viewed as something special. For one, it appeared to capture a specific and complete album sequence, and given what we now know about the sessions, the 11 songs found here reflect recordings from the earliest phase of the multi-year affair, all cut in 1982. And like The Ties That Bind before it, this appeared to be a "lost album" of sorts (dubbed Murder Incorporated by some), the early edition of what would eventually become the Born in the U.S.A. we all know, albeit with some changes to the line up.
As I have written before, how close these eleven songs came to official release is unconfirmed, but one would speculate it never came as close as Ties did. This particular tune stack was more of a speculative sequence that Bruce's inner circle may have been test driving, so to speak, after Nebraska was released in 1982. A hand-written sequence with "Johnny Bye Bye" (cut in 1983) subbing for "Darlington County" is currently on view at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and may have been more closely considered than this earlier incarnation. Perhaps its best to see this as the first suggestion of what album number seven would be but not the last.
Jump ahead to the early '90s, when the CD bootleg was born, but the BIUSA outtakes still hadn't fared so well, sounding only marginally better (on titles like the first edition of Murder Incorporated; The Lost Masterpiece from Flamingo Records) than the cassettes and vinyl bootlegs had. Of course, this is before the arrival of The Lost Masters series (not to mention the official release of "Murder Incorporated" itself on Greatest Hits and, in late 1998, the official outs-n-alts bonanza, Tracks).
What changed fans' collective sonic fortunes was a CD boot called This Hard Land, which presented the same material found here in best-ever sound quality for the time. While not perfect, THL was a sonic leap ahead of any previous bootleg or widely circulating cassette of the material.
The aforementioned releases have since usurped some of its tracks in quality, but to this day it remains the definitive source for the long "Born in the U.S.A.," as well as the longest known takes/mixes of "My Love Will Not Let You Down," "Glory Days," "Downbound Train" and "Frankie." And there are minor differences from any other source on other tracks, too. Even more importantly, this collection represents what was--even if only for a moment--an album in someone's mind in and around Thrill Hill. And unlike any assemblage of these same outs and alts from other sources, because it is from a single source tape, the sound--again, not perfect--is consistent across every track.
So where did the original cassette come from? A well-connected LA collector with connections into Columbia Records had it, and his own copy was borrowed and transferred to DAT way back in 1993.
This release represents the first time a properly transferred copy of the original source tape for the bootleg has circulated. While the This Hard Land boot was an upgrade of the material, its journey from the original cassette to that CD was a corrupted one.
EV2 has taken a new transfer of the clean, original source and done his own work to make it even better. It has never sounded this good. And given how many of you probably owned a copy of this bootleg at some point, hearing the same source, songs and order of the original in upgraded quality should be a treat. We hope you enjoy it.
Born In The USA:
Long, unedited take nearly identical in its body to the album version, but with a long instrumental outro, punctuated by Springsteen's vocal responses.
This angry, bleak track is an impassioned piece of work about the collapse of American cities.
My Love Will Not Let You Down:
A driving love song, unlike any in the Springsteen cannon.
Essentially identical to the released track with one additional verse, concerning a worker at the Ford automobile assembly line in Metuchen, NJ.
Working On The Highway:
Very similar to the released version, with a count-in and one slight lyrical change.
I'm Goin' Down:
Early track lists call it simply "Down, Down, Down". This version includes the full introduction and longer ending, and there's no saxophone dub.
This Hard Land:
Would've served as a perfect bridge between Nebraska and BITUSA.
Written and performed live in 1976, "Frankie" was also recorded for Darkness On The Edge Of Town, before turning up again in 1982.
I'm On Fire:
The long intro of this version was trimmed by 30 seconds for release.
This version includes the full introduction and Springsteen's vocal howls during the song's middle section and also a lot more of acoustic guitar.
A slightly longer ending, and one minor lyrical change distinguish this version from it's released counterpart.
Download this bootleg here