the story behind columbia 4-48405 (was bruce springsteen ever blinded by the light? – part 5)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

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.


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