Like its predecessor For You, Lawrence Kirsch's The Light In Darkness is a beautifully put-together, limited edition coffee-table sized collection of reminisces from Bruce Springsteen fans. What makes this a must-have for the Springsteen fan on your holiday shopping list are the hundreds of photographs here — many of which were shot by fans as well, and thus are seen here for the very first time.
The difference with The Light In Darkness is the fact that this volume focuses specifically on the 1978 tour behind the album Darkness On The Edge Of Town. As most longtime Boss fans will tell you, this was the tour where Springsteen and the E Street Band largely solidified their reputation as one of the greatest live attractions in rock.
On this tour, Springsteen shows rarely ran under 3½ hours, and when multiple encores were factored in, would often push closer to the five-hour mark.
These were the days so fondly remembered by the fans who were there, when songs like "Prove It All Night" began with a blistering guitar intro that was longer than the song itself, and where "Backstreets" included a lengthy mid-song rap (then called "Sad Eyes") which eventually formed the foundation for the song "Drive All Night" on the 1980 album, The River.
Here, on page after lovingly assembled page, these same fans recall their memories of seeing such legendary performances as the oft-bootlegged December 15, 1978 show at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom — one of the very final rock concerts to take place at the legendary venue. In the case of this particular show, several stories are recounted, including a beautiful photo essay of the show from Backstreets photographer P. Jay Plutzer, that includes many never-before-seen photos.
In addition to the hundreds of images and personal anecdotes from fans, there is a list of every show and every song played during the Darkness tour. In another section, writer Roy Opichinski examines the songs left over from the original sessions for the Darkness album that failed to make the final cut — including both the ones Springsteen gave away to other artists like Patti Smith ("Because The Night"), and such lost masterpieces as "The Promise" and "Iceman."
The release of The Light In Darkness comes at a time where there is a renewed interest in the 1978 Bruce Springsteen album which forms its central theme.
Springsteen and the E Street Band have been recently featuring the album played in its entirety — most recently at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and at Giants Stadium in New Jersey — as part of the theme nights closing their current tour, where a classic album is performed from start to stop. It is also widely expected that a deluxe, remastered edition of Darkness will see the light of day sometime next year.
In the meantime, this beautifully done new volume from Lawrence Kirsch serves as the next best thing. For those who were there, it serves as a reminder of a time where great rock and roll seemed to make anything possible. For those who weren't, it does a nice job of telling the story of just why Springsteen and the E Street Band are so revered by the fans who were.
As a postscript here, a few Blogcritics have stories of their own that made the cut in the book. Look for Mark Saleski on page 96, and yours truly on page 52. The Light In Darkness can be ordered at the author's website.