RELEASED IN 1975, Springsteen’s third album for Columbia, BORN TO RUN, was a virtual apotheosis of all that the rock musicians of the previous generation had hoped to achieve with the form. But that was not how the first two years as a recording artist went down. Now, there is always a story behind a record from a major company being rare and as valuable.
In the case of Columbia 4-48405, Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light., it is simple: the major radio stations—those that make or break a new record, especially those by new artists—did not play the record, and the fan base in New Jersey didn’t purchase enough copies of the record to force even local stations to give it more exposure.
Turning to the (now-defunct) Website Lost In The Flood (“the Bruce Springsteen Collectors Page”), we read this about the Boss’s first single:
“Extremely rare commercial release. Contains an edited 3:58 version of Blinded which is unique to this 45 and its promotional counterpart. An unknown number of stock copies were also distributed to radio stations and music journalists, featuring Promotional Record For Broadcast & Review – Not For Sale stickers affixed to the label on either side. [There was a] white label promotional release which is a lot more common than the above stock copy. Note that both sides, however, feature the same edited version [in mono and stereo].”
Australian “super-collector” Peter Bambini uncovered the truth behind this release’s also (but not equally) rare picture sleeve. His work is discussed on the Lost in the Flood:
“The sleeve was designed and manufactured by Columbia Records in a quantity of 500 copies at the request of Laurel Canyon Management who wanted sleeves as part of a targeted marketing campaign in which Bruce’s debut 45 would be sent to influential DJs, radio station program directors, and music critics.
Approximately 150-200 [completed] sleeves were distributed with a disc inside. A combination of promo label and stock label discs were utilized, with stock labels having a tiny For Review Purposes sticker attached.
Approximately 150-200 sleeves were folded and glued but were never utilized.
Approximately 100-200 sleeves were not folded or glued and remained as flat slicks. These apparently were thrown out and are not believed to survive today.
Columbia Records never shipped any stock or promo label discs with the picture sleeve [as] they had no sleeves to ship. Modern-day reproductions of the sleeve have recently come into circulation. These are normally in at least Near Mint condition, and (as opposed to original copies, which were glued together quite sloppily) also feature flawlessly sharp edges/corners.”
Now, if Mr. Bambini is correct, the value that I assigned above should prove conservative over time. Also note that his piece on Lost in the Flood is 390 words while the abridged portion above is only 170 words. So, for you serious Springsteen aficionados (Bruceanados?) (did I just coin a term?), please click on over and read the original now!
While I can certainly understand what John Hammond saw in the young singer/songwriter when he signed him to Columbia Records, I can also understand why both GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J.and THE WILD, THE INNOCENT, AND THE E STREET SHUFFLE sold less-than-modestly and attracted little attention outside of those American critics who lionized his efforts.
The songs are too wordy, clumsy and/or forced in places, while the music is unrealized, leaning too heavily on a sorta folky backing and ending with a sense of unfulfilled rock and roll with a demo flavor.