Today, Bruce Springsteen announced ten of his albums from across his entire discography have been newly remastered from the original analogue tapes by Bob Ludwig. The list includes five classic LPs – Springsteen’s first four albums Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973), The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973), Born to Run (1975), Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and Born in the U.S.A. (1984) – and five recent ones – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006), Working on a Dream (2009), The Promise (2010), Wrecking Ball (2012) and the just-released High Hopes. While Born to Run, Darkness and the Darkness-era outtakes set The Promise were all significantly improved for remastered box set treatments in recent years, this marks the first time that anything has been done to the first two albums (as manager Jon Landau had alluded to earlier this year) or the celebrated Born in the U.S.A. since they were first transferred to CD some three decades ago.
These albums, mastered by Ludwig under the personal supervision of Springsteen and his engineer Toby Scott, were indeed sourced from the original tapes, newly transferred by Jamie Howarth of Plangent Process. The Plangent Process playback system is lauded for its ability to correct pitch errors and other distortions in the magnetic tape over time, allowing for what may be the most detailed take on Springsteen and The E Street Band’s sound.
Now: all of this is great news so far, which was an attempt to steel you against the not-so-great news: these 10 masters so far currently only exist as Mastered for iTunes titles. While the MFiT process as a guideline starts with 96 kHz/24-bit resolution masters – well beyond the quality of a compact disc – these masters will be ostensibly compressed to some degree in order to fit as an AAC file.
Which, of course, begs the question: will these new remasters be available in some other capacity? Certainly services like HD Tracks would post the remasters as lossless files. And of course, there’s the idea of remastered CDs – a practice that Springsteen’s catalogue – which, alongside that of Prince’s, is probably the most glaring in this respect – has largely evaded over the years. (That doesn’t even consider if other albums – say, The River (1980) or Nebraska (1982) – will be restored by Ludwig and company.)
We’ve reached out to Sony Music for comment on the matter of possible physical releases of these new Bruce Springsteen masters, which would certainly be one of 2014’s bigger stories on the catalogue/reissue beat were it to happen. When we find out, we’ll make sure you, our treasured reader, is kept in the know.
Until then? As a wise man once said, “Show a little faith – there’s magic in the night.”