True record collectors and music geeks don’t stop at their favorite artists. The official catalog of even well established artists isn’t particularly hard to compile. Take Springsteen, for example — The Boss only has seventeen studio releases to his credit.
So off we go, hunting for b-sides, bootlegs, alternate cover art, foreign releases, soundtracks, and guest appearances. And this is where the Bruce fans have a mighty task ahead of them. The E Street Band and its members have been kicking around the music business for forty years. They’ve made more guest appearances than Cher has made comebacks.
Here are some cuts from Bruce’s most popular band mates. Sorry, true believers, I know there are more players in Brucetory, but I’m sticking with the big guns:
“Jole’ Blon,” Gary U.S. Bonds. The E Street Band backed up Gary U.S. Bonds on a couple of albums, both of which were jointly produced by Little Steven and Bruce. And yes, that’s The Boss swapping verses with Bonds.
“Bat Out Of Hell,” Meatloaf. The weirdest mega-hit of the seventies featured Roy Bittan (keyboards) and Max Weinberg (drums) on three cuts.
“Station To Station,” David Bowie. Roy Bittan played piano on Bowie’s coked-fueled 1976 masterpiece.
“Until The Good Is Gone,” Little Steven. Guitarist Steven Van Zandt didn’t join the E Street Band until 1975, but like Clarence Clemmons it’s hard to imagine the band without him.
“Goin Back,” Nils Lofgren. Guitarist Lofgren replaced Steven Van Zandt in 1984 when Little Steven went off to have a solo career. Here he is on piano.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” Pezband. Clarence Clemmons was a much sought after studio musician. Listen to how the end of this power pop classic turns into Bruce as soon as The Big Man’s sax kicks in.
“When The Daylight Comes,” Ian Hunter. You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic, the album on which this track appears, is best known for “Cleveland Rocks,” which was later used as the theme song to the American television series The Drew Carey Show. “When The Daylight Comes” features E Streeters Gary Tallent (bass), Max Weinberg (drums), and Roy Bittan (piano). But the crossover fun doesn’t stop there. Bowie sideman Mick Ronson sings and plays on this cut, as does Meatloaf foil Ellen Foley.
“Mingle-Mangle,” Danny Federici. The late Danny Federici was the E Street’s multi-instrumentalist, playing organ, accordion, and that most rock and roll of instruments, the glockenspiel. This cut off of Federici’s first solo album also features E Streeters Gary Tallent (bass) and Nils Lofgren (guitar).
“Children’s Song,” Patti Scialfa. Mrs. Bruce has a career of her own. This song is from the benefit album Every Mother Counts. Recognize the male voice? Yup. The Boss.
Do you have a favorite E Street guest appearance? I’m listening.
It’s a tough list to add to, you got some deep ones there. For me? Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young doing “Whip Your Hair.” Hands down.
Deep and funny. You are a true Bruceliever.
In an interview somewhere concerning this high hilarity, Springsteen said that the one thing that was more difficult than not cracking up was, “having all of his twenty-year-old hair glued back on.”
I used to have amazing old bootlegs and vinyl “b” sides, but they wound up in the hands of a sibling with whom I no longer have contact. But I still occasionally go on a hunt. One never knows what might turn up in an attic somewhere.