[ NOTE: Acetates are special pressings made for test or demonstration purposes in very limited quantities; usually taken straight from original studio master tapes and manufactured on thick (yet fragile) heavy lacquer. In Springsteen's case, many of these are of particular interest, as they often included officially unreleased material that has only ever turned up on bootlegs. This page features a selection of 17 extremely valuable discs, although others most certainly do exist. Titles marked with an asterisk (*) denote officially unreleased songs/versions. ]
Baby I* / That's What You Get* - US 7-inch Acetate
The first-ever studio recordings featuring Bruce Springsteen (on guitar, vocals and harmonica), as a member of five-piece teen band "The Castiles" at the age of 16; cut in a small public studio called "Mr. Music Inc." in Bricktown, New Jersey on May 18, 1966. "Baby I" was co-written by Bruce and the group's lead singer/guitarist, George Theiss. Disc carries what originally must have been white labels (which obviously have discoloured with age, as seen on the picture below), imprinted with the studio's full address and featuring handwritten song titles. Apparently, each of the band members at the time received an acetate after the session, although it is unclear how many copies actually have survived to this day. The ultimate Springsteen collectable.
Bruce Springsteen: John Hammond Sessions - US LP Acetate
Including all 12 songs from the acoustic solo demo session Bruce did for CBS talent scout John Hammond in New York City on May 3, 1972 (which eventually led to his signing to the label), this acetate most likely was pressed for distribution among Columbia executives. The disc itself does not bear any labels; a white sleeve with the abovementioned title written by hand being the only optical feature to reveal its content. An incredibly rare and truly historical piece.
Southern Son* (a.k.a. Southern Sun) - US 10-inch Acetate
"Associated Recording Studios" label with typewritten song title and a handwritten "Sioux City Music Ltd." remark. The song itself is an unreleased acoustic solo demo from 1972 which has turned up on numerous bootlegs over the years.
Winter Song* - US
One-sided acetate including an unreleased early Springsteen composition (performed solo on piano); obviously intended as a publishing demo. White "Angel Sound" label has song title and "Laurel Canyon Ltd." typewritten on it.
Seaside Bar Song - US 7-inch Acetate
Pressed especially as a demo for Bruce's UK music publishing company, "Intersong Music", in order to find artists interested in covering his material. White "Audiodisc" label with blue "Intersong Music" stamp and handwritten song title.
The Fever / Seaside Bar Song / Santa Ana / Bishop Danced (live) / Zero And Blind
Terry / Thundercrack (live)*
Two-sided disc manufactured around the same time (and for the same purpose) as the above 7-inch pressing. The acetate carries white handwritten “Audiodisc” labels and came in a paper outer sleeve with handwritten tracklistings and “Intersong Music Limited” stamps; both the labels and sleeve credit the material to “Bruce Springsteen and the East St. Band”.
Darkness On The Edge Of Town - US Double 12-inch Acetate Set
Set of two acetates for Bruce's fourth album. The first disc includes the five tracks for Side One of the LP; the second contains the five tracks for Side Two, including a different early mix of "The Promised Land" without the guitar solo in the break that was added at the proverbial last minute (leading to the album's original release date being postponed for several weeks). Both acetates feature "Mastering Lab" labels with typewritten song titles and were issued in a "Mastering Lab" company sleeve.
Darkness On The Edge Of Town - US LP Acetate
Two-sided single LP acetate cut at Columbia Recording Studios in New York and carrying handwritten “Columbia Reference Recording” labels that do not mention the album title.
The Promised Land* /
Factory - US 12-inch Acetate
Contains the same unreleased mix of "The Promised Land" as the abovementioned double acetate set, and again features a "Mastering Lab" label/sleeve.
Badlands (Mono) / Same (Stereo) -
US 10-inch Acetate
Two-sided acetate featuring a "Mastering Lab" label with artist's name, song title and "Columbia" typed on it.
Prove It All Night (live)* - US 12-inch Acetate
Extremely rare one-sided acetate; pressed for an unissued 12-inch promo single and containing an exclusive 7:45 live version of "Prove It All Night" (taped in Berkeley, California, on July 1, 1978) with extensive piano/guitar intro, which never saw any official release. The only copy offered for sale in recent years (at a 1997 "Backstreets" auction) came in a white cardboard sleeve with title graphic sticker and included a photocopy of the original label that carried a promotional AS 480 Columbia catalogue number. Labels and sleeve stickers are also known to exist separately.
Sherry Darling / Independence Day - UK 7-inch Acetate
Acetate for the recalled first UK pressing of the "Sherry Darling" 45, which is a major rarity in its own right (see 7-Inch section for full details). Disc carries "CBS Recording Studios" labels that feature Bruce's name, song titles and running times in handwriting.
The River / Born To Run / Rosalita (Come Out
Tonight) - UK 12-inch Acetate
Two-sided acetate for the officially released 1981 EP. "CBS Recording Studios" label with Bruce's name, song titles and individual running times written by hand.
Bruce Springsteen As Requested Around The World
- US Double 12-inch Acetate Set
Set of two acetates that eventually made up the official 1981 promo LP. The first disc includes the five songs featured on Side One of the album; the second has the four remaining tracks for Side Two. Both acetates carried Capitol Records labels with typewritten song titles and the date "7/6/81", and were issued in a special company sleeve depicting the Capitol Records building and featuring further information ("Bruce Springsteen...promo...Columbia") written by hand in red pen.
The Big Payback - UK 7-inch Acetate
One-sided acetate for the officially released 1982 single B-side. White label with blue "CBS Mastering Studios" logo and song title/running time written by hand; issued in a die-cut company logo sleeve.
Seeds / Spirit In The Night (both live) - UK 10-inch Acetate
Two-sided acetate playing at 45 rpm and actually featuring 7-inch grooves (with the remaining outer 3-inch portion being blank). The side containing "Seeds" has a white "CBS Mastering Studios" label and handwritten song title with additional remark "Quick fade in", while the "Spirit In The Night" side is unlabeled. This acetate is particularly interesting for the fact that its track coupling never saw official release anywhere.