April 29, 2010 – 1:37 pm

By accident, Bruce Springsteen recorded a classic.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

The Lost Masters I: Alone In Colts Neck (The Complete Nebraska Session) [Labour Of Love, 1CD]

Solo session at Colts Neck, NJ, Dec 1981 to Jan 1982. This is the alternate Nebraska album. Ex SBD stereo(?). The Lost Masters was the first major multi-CD bootleg boxset of 21 albums.

“In 1996, two disgruntled former associates of Bruce Springsteen opted to purge their stash of high quality outtakes and demos by releasing the 19-volume set, The Lost Masters. While the bootleggers beat Springsteen to the punch by a full two years (the officially released ‘Tracks’ did not hit the shelves until the fall of 1998), several of the tracks that appear on The Lost Masters were subsequently released on Tracks. However, in every case, Springsteen changed the mixes and/or added new overdubs before officially releasing them. The Lost Masters presents the material in its original, unadulterated form.”
- guitars101.com (a further two volumes were subsequently released as a compilation of the best from the 19 volume set)

When Bruce Springsteen handed a cassette of demos he recorded by himself to manager Jon Landau, they were intended to be his next album once the E Street Band had recorded them. As time passed, all parties realised that the recordings were already worthy of release as they captured a side of Springsteen not yet revealed to his fans - his folk roots.

Recorded at Colts Neck, in his bedroom, the “boss” was alone with his acoustic guitar and head leaned forward almost touching the microphone. The songs were open to interpretation. Several like Born In The U.S.A., Downbound Train and Pink Cadillac were later recorded with the E Street Band and if you’ve never heard the “folk” version, you wouldn’t believe it possible.

According to the wikipedia, the E Street Band did record the entire Nebraska but all parties “felt that a raw, haunted folk essence present on the home tapes was lacking in the band treatments”. But there was still work to be done on the original recordings. Wiki again: “Complications with mastering of the tapes ensued because of low recording volume, but the problem was overcome with sophisticated noise reduction techniques.”

What Labor Of Love released (thanks to two unhappy Springsteen employees) was the actual cassette Springsteen handed over to Jon Landau. As he told Dave Marsh in Glory Days, “I put the tape in my pocket, carried it around a couple of weeks, ’cause I was gonna teach the songs to the band. After a couple of days, I looked at the thing and said, ‘Uh oh, I’d better stop carrying this around like this. Can somebody make a copy of this?”

So why didn’t Springsteem, Landau and Columbia offer all 14 songs? When Nebraska was released, four songs were dropped - Born In The U.S.A., Downbound Train, Losin’ Kind and Pink Cadillac. To these ears, if they had come out together, they wouldn’t be out of place. Perhaps the constraints of the vinyl format had something to do with it. The 10 tracks fit better on an LP. Whatever the case, fans and critics alike were drawn to this album, shorn of modern studio trickery or sonic bravado, Nebraska came across as warm, inviting and honest. Woody Guthrie must have smiled from the beyond that his sound was found again as much as John Mellencamp was thrown by this switch to folk simplicity.

The story of Nebraska was that the demos were released. They were not. They were sparsely recorded and that gave the impression that all the songs were demos. As a bonus, Labour Of Love added four bonus tracks including two extra takes of Nebraska to illustrate that the songs were properly composed.

Nebraska deserved all the praise it received along with its standing as one of the great rock albums of all time.
- The Little Chicken

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Nebraska (4:27) * (6.1MB)
Track 02. Atlantic City (4:02) * (5.5MB)
Track 03. Mansion On The Hill (4:00)* (5.5MB)
Track 04. Born In The U.S.A. (3:04) (4.2MB)
Track 05. Johnny 99 (3:32) * (4.8MB)
Track 06. Downbound Train (2:26) (3.3MB)
Track 07. Losin’ Kind (4:52) (6.6MB)
Track 08. State Trooper (3:07) * (4.2MB)
Track 09. Used Cars (3:01) * (4.1MB)
Track 10. Open All Night (2:49) * (3.8MB)
Track 11. Pink Cadillac (5:24) (7.4MB)
Track 12. Deputy (5:30) - aka “Highway Patrolman” * (7.5MB)
Track 13. Reason To Believe (4:01) * (5.5MB)
Track 14. Child Bride (5:27) (later retitled Working On The Highway) (7.5MB)

Track 15. Dream Baby (0:34) (809k)
Track 16. Precious Memories (1:11) (1.6MB)
Track 17. Nebraska #1 (1:15) (1.7MB)
Track 18. Nebraska #2 (1:13) (1.6MB)

(TT: 60:01m)

*9 of the 10 songs that appear on the official Nebraska album. These are the unvarnished versions.

Bruce Springsteen with acoustic guitar, electric guitar (on “Open All Night”), harmonica, mandolin, glockenspiel, tambourine, organ.

* Solo acoustic demos for “Nebraska”
* Taken from the original 4-track cassette mixes of the “Nebraska” acoustic home demos
* Tracks 15-16 Location(s)/date(s) unknown

The released version of Nebraska had several songs dropped. Click on the link to order the album.

  1. 18 Responses to “WOODY”

  2. I’ve only ever bought two Springsteen albums … Nebraska was one. Thought it was a great piece of work … the ‘unvarnished’ copies here look interesting so thanks for sharing. Cheers.

    By Canute on Apr 29, 2010

  3. This is really special; I’ve always fallen short of complete enthusiasm for Springsteen, with the excpetion of ‘Nebraska’, which is one of the best records of the last forty years, and these recordings prove it. Thanks very much.

    By Pete on Apr 29, 2010

  4. Sounds a LOT like the album. Really dig the extra tracks. That version of Born in the USA blows away the pop electric version by miles and miles. I might actually listen to it now….

    By Sluggo714 on Apr 29, 2010

  5. Thanks for posting this. Foolishly, I did not buy this CD the one time I saw it in a rack. I’ve been searching for a copy ever since. Not any more!!
    Way to go, Big O!

    By Howard on Apr 30, 2010

  6. Thanks for posting this. It’s great. I’m a little confused though. When you say that the demos were not released, are you saying that Bruce went back and re-recorded the whole thing by himself?

    By Ken on Apr 30, 2010

  7. Ken,

    I think it went like this.

    Step1: Bruce records the songs
    Step2: He selects 14 of the songs and makes a cassette for the band and his manager. Some “producing” takes place to get the demos ready for the cassette.
    Step3: All parties agree to release 10 tracks for Nebraska. Some more producing takes place to get the 10 songs ready for release.

    By Admin on Apr 30, 2010

  8. Admin has it right. Step 3, per most accounts, included some overdubs and post-production tweeks. A guy I met who worked on a video for “Atlantic City” claims the video sountrack was a complete re-record, but, to my ears, it sounds the same as the released edition. Great post - Thanks.

    By Johnny Kinkdom on Apr 30, 2010

  9. I haven’t listened to Nebraska in years. I rarely play Springsteen albums anymore for that matter. I tried this and was reminded again what a great bunch of songs and performances they are. The four cuts that didn’t make the LP were a nice bonus. Stirring stuff overall. Thanks for the post.

    By Dave C. on May 2, 2010

  10. Great post! The extra tracks not found on Nebraska made for a nice bonus. BigO does it again!

    By TDC on May 2, 2010

  11. I remember when this series first came out. I only have a couple and hope to get all of them eventually. Thanks for another piece of the puzzle.

    By Matt on May 6, 2010

  12. Cheers and thanks

    By Pike Bishop on May 8, 2010

  13. Many thanks again - enlightening stuff

    By Knocked out 73 on Aug 18, 2010

  14. OK, I’ll bite: why is this a “rock” record?

    By SCBrain on Feb 20, 2012

  15. Thanks.. I know someone in my house who will like this one very much..

    By Tom on Oct 25, 2013

  16. thanks for this repost

    By Eric on Oct 26, 2013

  17. I spent many years trying to track down this on CD. Thanks for posting this.

    FYI Tracks 5, 11 and 16 wouldn’t download.

    By 321howard on Oct 29, 2013

  18. I was a student at VCU in Richmond in 1969 when I saw Bruce for the first time at the Franklin Street Gym with the band that was called Child at the time. He would do a solo accoustic set in between rock sets with the band. He would just sit on the end of the stage and play some of the greatest music I had ever heard live at the time. Beautiful covers and originals from just a few yards away. It was like a small high school gym with lousy accoustics but his guitar sounded great to my 19 year old ears. I saw him again a few more times in Richmond before he moved on to bigger and better places. I just saw him again at Virginia Beach on April 12 for the first time in 44 years. He mentioned those days in Richmond as one of the few places he could make some money outside of New Jersey in those days. According to an old poster I saw on the web recently the tickets was $2.50 back then. In all these years I had never seen the E street band live. It was a great show and although Tom Morello is a great addition I missed seeing Steven van Zandt who was off shooting a TV show. I need to find time to see them again!

    By lee on Apr 17, 2014

  19. I know it’s been over five years since this was posted, but tracks four and ten seem to have vanished into the ether. Any possibility of a partial re-up, for completion’s sake?

    By Dr. Clysmok on Jan 26, 2016

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