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Live 1975-85 Alternate Cover Proof
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|Photographer Eric Meola took the iconic cover photo of Born to Run and through that process became close friends with Springsteen. In the fall of 1977, the two of them traveled to the Utah desert and shot a series of photographs intended for use in the packaging and artwork for what would become Bruce's next album.
A year later, Meola's images gave way to Frank Stefanko's stark shots as the cover of Darkness and its inner sleeve. But a few photographs from the desert shoot did sneak into use: one as the cover of the sheet music for "Badlands," while another cropped up on a UK 12" single with the release of "The River."
Fast-forward to 2010 and the Darkness box set project. The Meola images from 1977 finally got their due in the packaging of the set, most notably providing the striking cover and back-cover art to the album within the box, The Promise.
But 24 years earlier, and heretofore unknown outside of Columbia Records and Thrill Hill, Springsteen had considered using Meola's black-and-white photos on the cover of a completely different project.
Springsteen's box set Live 1975-85 was released in 1986 and features a live performance shot of Springsteen taken by Neal Preston. But prior to that decision, at Bruce's request, Columbia's art department mocked up Meola's image of Springsteen driving in the distance down a long dirt road towards the camera, slightly sepia-toned, overlaid with type of the live album title: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live 1975-85.
Proof sheets were printed for this test, and, as the story goes, it was "almost used" until Bruce was ultimately convinced a live album needed a live photo on its cover. This 26" x 20" sheet is one of a just a few dozen surviving proofs of the abandoned alternate cover art. The 14" x 14" image in the center is the size needed to cover the front and spines of a 5 LP box set. Printed on nice, heavy stock, and these sheets are in remarkable condition considering their age. Small art department handwriting in corner, specifying PMS color. Perhaps not pristine, but highly suitable for framing.