Charles Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979) was an American jazz musician, composer, bandleader, and civil rights activist.
Mingus’s compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third stream, free jazz, and classical music. Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz.
Mingus focused on collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacted with the group as a whole. In creating his bands, Mingus looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. Many musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. He recruited talented and sometimes little-known artists whom he assembled into unconventional and revealing configurations. As a performer, Mingus was a pioneer in double bass technique, widely recognized as one of the instrument’s most proficient players. (wikipedia)
What’s really the most amazing thing about this vast collection is that there really isn’t a bad song on it – Bruce Springsteen’s outtakes and leftovers are better than most artists’ released album tracks.
When we first started this task of finding the 20 best tracks off Tracks I was sure it would be an enjoyable but easy endevour. Not so.
They’re all so goddam good!
It took a lot longer than expected, and it was much more fun!
You got your book baby with all your fears
Let me, honey, and I’ll catch your tears
I’ll take your sorrow if you want me to
Come tomorrow that’s what I’ll do
Listen to me
Recorded June 16 in 1983. Great track from the Born in the USA sessions. Steve Van Zandt on guitar and background vocals. When the song was being readied for release as the B-side to “I’m Goin’ Down” in 1985, Nils Lofgren went into a studio and replaced Van Zandt’s vocal track.
Like “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” this was also on side two of Landau’s suggested track listing for Born in the U.S.A. “Janey” has been played in concert ten times (5 times on the Rising tour). Clarence Clemons’ name is not on the credits on the box set but obviously he participates, and he magnificently plays on the song.
Live in Los Angeles 1985:
Here’s a great version from the Devils and Dust tour (2005) solo/piano:
Bruce told Rolling Stone Magazine this four years before the set was released:
“We record a lot of material, but we just don’t release it all… I always tell myself that some day I’m gonna put an album out with all this stuff on it that didn’t fit in. I think there’s some good material there that should come out. Maybe at some point, I’ll do that.”
Bruce Springsteen to Mojo Magazine:
“So it began just with that idea and we listened to about 250 songs, maybe more, I made quick notes in a notebook and put it away. A year went by, more maybe, and I came off the Tom Joad tour and I began to write acoustically again and I wrote about half a record. Then I got stuck and said, ‘Well, I’m going to put this aside for a while.’ Then I wrote half of an electric record, and hit the same place. So I thought, instead of waiting for another year to put something out I’ll put some of this music together. So once again I went back to the archives.”
He told Billboard that the songs were chosen from 2-300 songs. A legal battle concerning the rights to Greetings from Ashbury Park NJ sessions, made these tunes unavailable for release.
The Tracks Box set was inteded as a 6 cd release, but it was cut down to 4 cds before the official release. This means that there’s still a ton of unreleased songs in “The Springsteen Vault”. The rumours of a second Tracks box set is strong on the web.