Sourced from the original analog master tapes, pressed at RTI on MoFi SuperVinyl, and strictly limited to 7,500 numbered copies, Mobile Fidelity's UltraDisc One-Step 180g 33RPM LP set is the definitive-sounding version of Springsteen’s daring debut. Afforded the benefits of SuperVinyl’s nearly non-existent noise floor, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. plays with a clarity, directness, and emotionalism that practically whisks you into the New York office in which Springsteen — accompanied by then-manager Mike Appel — played a few originals for legendary Columbia Records executive John Hammond and earned a record deal.
That solo-centric aspect of Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. — credited only to Springsteen and featuring only a handful of accompanying musicians — helps make it unique in his catalog. So do the acoustic-based frameworks, revealed on this pressing with newly exposed detail, nuance, and immediacy. The music emerges with an openness that gives flight to the Boss’ storytelling. His words flow with unbridled, stream-of-conscious pacing and vibrant imagery; they pay homage to and update a tradition established by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Jack Kerouac. Equally important, Springsteen’s still-underrated vocal performances can now be appreciated in full-range fidelity. Earnest, transparent, and sincere, his singing comes across with an urgency that distinguishes him from the era’s singer-songwriter mold and a raw energy that underlines his unflinching belief in rock ’n’ roll.
Recorded in just three weeks, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. also stands out by way of its insightful artwork. Designed by Grammy winner John Berg, the inviting cover is appointed with images of the local landmarks, beachfronts, and geography that provide the backdrops for some of the songs. Those graphics are complemented by the beautiful packaging of Mobile Fidelity’s UD1S edition. Tucked in a sleek slipcase, the LP is housed in a special foil-stamped jacket with faithful-to-the-original graphics. In every way, this reissue is made for listeners who prize sound quality and who want to engage themselves in everything involved with this invigorating album.
An aspirational declaration by a then-23-year-old musician who was already a seasoned veteran of the Jersey Shore bar-band scene, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. can in many ways be seen as a semi-fictional autobiography released more than four decades before Springsteen penned his official tome. Elaborate, descriptive, and absorbing, Springsteen’s lyrics spark with the enthusiasm and exuberance of a wide-eyed adventurer ready for possibility, excitement, and fun — but who is also mindful of loss, pain, and disappointment. Words often tumble and collide like dice spilling from a jar; shaken and fully intact, they pour forth with purpose and without self-conscious concern.
One of two songs composed after label president Clive Davis cited the need for a radio-friendly single, the opening “Blinded by the Light” provides an unforgettable introduction. It flares with a blend of confidence, fun, and poetry that helps define Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Crackling with wiry guitars, funky chords, Clarence Clemons’ cool-toned saxophone, and action-packed lyrics, the shuffle simultaneously expands and contracts — and establishes Springsteen as a master of rhyme, alliteration, and breathless expression. The thread continues on “Growin’ Up.” Steered by ascending piano lines, soulful grooves, and frisky rhythms, the coming-of-age confessional is at once rebellious and controlled, fearless and vulnerable, honest and boastful. It is a tale to which multiple generations still relate.
Such universality has always been a Springsteen trademark. It surfaces throughout Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., as does another Boss hallmark: the importance of friendship and tight bonds. These concepts relate to the fact many of the songs — see the feverish “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” strutting “It’s So Hard to Be a Saint in the City,” and tender “For You,” the latter complete with brilliant Hammond organ shading — are directly tied to the friends, acquaintances, places, and happenings he knew. “Lost in the Flood,” whose cinematic drama and epic scope hint at the directions Springsteen would pursue on his next LP, extends that familiarity while addressing the kind of socially conscious issues with which he’s forever been associated.
Balancing the label’s vision of him as a folk-based singer-songwriter and his own desire to play rock ‘n’ roll with a full band, Springsteen never again made a record like Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. One of the most captivating debuts in history, it heralds the start of a legacy whose import Springsteen seemingly foretells on “Blinded by the Light”: “He’s gonna make it tonight.” And how.
More About Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc One-Step and Why It Is Superior
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S) technique bypasses generational losses inherent to the traditional three-step plating process by removing two steps: the production of father and mother plates, which are created to yield numerous stampers from each lacquer that is cut. For UD1S plating, stampers (also called "converts") are made directly from the lacquers. Since each lacquer yields only one stamper, multiple lacquers need to be cut. Mobile Fidelity's UD1S process produces a final LP with the lowest-possible noise floor. The removal of two steps of the plating process also reveals musical details and dynamics that would otherwise be lost due to the standard multi-step process. With UD1S, every aspect of vinyl production is optimized to produce the best-sounding vinyl album available today.
Developed by NEOTECH and RTI, MoFi SuperVinyl is the most exacting-to-specification vinyl compound ever devised. Analog lovers have never seen (or heard) anything like it. Extraordinarily expensive and extremely painstaking to produce, the special proprietary compound addresses two specific areas of improvement: noise floor reduction and enhanced groove definition. The vinyl composition features a new carbonless dye (hold the disc up to the light and see) and produces the world's quietest surfaces. This high-definition formula also allows for the creation of cleaner grooves that are indistinguishable from the original lacquer. MoFi SuperVinyl provides the closest approximation of what the label's engineers hear in the mastering lab.