May 27, 2009 – 1:40 pm

Famous for their run of Beatles bootlegs, Yellow Dog would use their Unsurpassed series on The Boss and offer an excellent series of lost sessions.

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

The Unsurpassed Springsteen Vol 3 [Yellow Dog 020, 1CD]

The Hammond Demos.

There is no doubt that 1972 was a massive songwriting period for Bruce. Although some have their genesis in 1971, Springsteen wrote most of the below-mentioned songs during calendar year 1972, prior to the Jan 1973 release of his debut album.

The vast majority of the known recordings were made during a 3-4 month period, from May through August 1972. However a few were recorded shortly beforehand and several weren’t recorded until early 1973. All but one feature Springsteen completely solo, on either acoustic guitar or keyboards. The one exception features an added, but barely discernable, bass guitar.

From this large pool of recordings Appel-Cretecos selected and distributed some of them during 1973-74 - most notably to the UK - European based publisher Intersong Music Ltd. Some recordings were distributed on tape, others on acetates. Most of these acetates were manufactured at Media Sound in New York City and Angel Sound in Bedford, Mass. However (and this has been the source of much confusion over the years) Springsteen did NOT record at either of these locations. Intersong also pressed its own acetates for distribution within the industry. This audio gradually filtered into collector circles in the late ’70s, often under the misnomer “the London Publishing Demos”.

The audio that has circulated to date was recorded at either: a) CBS Studios, b) Pocketful Of Sounds Studios, 3) 914 Sound Studios or 4) Jim Cretecos’ apartment. Interestingly neither the material recorded at CBS Studios (the so-called “Hammond tapes”) nor the material recorded in Jim Cretecos’ apartment (the so-called “Cretecos Tapes”) was ever sent to publishers.

The Hammond tapes leaked out into collector circles hands in the ’70s via other sources. The Cretecos apartment tapes never circulated until the early ’90s, when Jimmy Cretecos sold his private audio collection (which also included recordings from both the Pocketful Of Sounds and 914 Sound Sessions) to a third party - and it was this third party (JEC Music USA) that attempted to claim copyright of the material and to release it commercially.

Springsteen took the matter to court in both the UK and USA - litigation that, all totaled, spanned nearly seven years (1994 - 2001). In the end, Bruce won both the UK and USA cases convincingly - however not before much of the material had leaked out on various unauthorized and/or bootleg CD releases.

The above is a brief history of the so-called Hammond demos as found on

The four tracks omitted are the most familiar, all later recorded for his studio albums. The remaining eight songs are all played solo with acoustic guitar. Possibly recorded only once as it is not known whether Springsteen ever attempted to record them again.

What you have here is Springsteen upholding “the next Bob Dylan” image, all wordy and folky but sounding more like himself imitating Woody Guthrie. Hardly subtle, most of the time he sounds angsty.  He was also testing his limits [If I Was The Priest], his Catholic schoolboy point of view and finding what best suited him.

The four omitted songs stand head and shoulders above the rest. As mentioned above, Springsteen went to great lengths to prevent wider distribution of these sessions. If this landed on your desk, would you have been able to foresee this young man as The Boss? A very good quality recording.
- The Little Chicken

Note: 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.

These tracks are no longer available for download. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you want to download them at a later date.

1 Mary, Queen Of Arkansas [omitted]
2 It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City [omitted]
3 Jazz Musician
4 If I Was The Priest
5 Arabian Nights
6 Growin’ Up [omitted]
7 Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street? [omitted]
8 Two Hearts In True Waltz Time
9 Street Queen
10 The Angel
11 Southern Son
12 Cowboys Of The Sea

The four omitted tracks can be found on the 4CD boxset Tracks. This 1998 set was a generous attempt to assemble as much of Springsteen’s outtakes as possible for the general and avid fan. Click on the link to order the set.


  2. Great stuff. Let’s have volumes 1 & 2 as well as any which followed!

    By E Ravelli on May 27, 2009

  3. I’d love to hear the Bruce Unsurpassed volume 2.
    any chance/
    thanks for all the great music

    By Ben Rudling on May 31, 2009

  4. wow, thanks - I have been searching for this for a long time. I would also love to have the other volumes of the Unsurpassed series.

    By Bob McArdle on Jun 28, 2009

  5. Interesting. I think if I heard these in 1972 I would not have been impressed, they are all “down” kind of tunes. I have an early Springsteen recording live from WBCN that is much livelier! Hammond was interested in Springsteen as a folkie new Dylan.

    Are the other volumes different than this?

    The main thing that sticks out from these auditions in Springsteen’s confident assurance as an artist.

    By FrankD on Oct 6, 2010

  6. Any Chance that this can be re-posted…am reading the new “Bruce” biography and find this stuff incredibly interesting….Long Live the Boss!!!!

    By Kent Stimson on Dec 24, 2012

  7. Please re-post.

    By john on Nov 8, 2014

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