Bruce Springsteen Has One-Tracks Mind These Days

Manager Jon Landau calls concert plans 'undefined' in wake of populist-rocker's new box set.

With his recently released box set flying out of stores and his election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced, New Jersey rock-hero Bruce Springsteen isn't thinking about touring or his next recording project, according to his manager, Jon Landau.

Rather, he's basking in the moment, Landau said.

"We just put out four hours and 20 minutes of unheard music, and it's gotta sink in for a while," the manager said from his Greenwich, Conn., office. While he didn't completely scotch the idea of upcoming concerts for the Boss, Landau said the notion is "undefined at the moment."

Springsteen's longtime manager and co-producer Landau said Thursday that Springsteen -- who recently spoke of having several more albums near completion -- is planning, for the foreseeable future, to focus on the just-released, career-spanning Tracks.

He added that he does not yet know whether Springsteen will perform -- either with or without his longtime backing group, the E Street Band, which was not elected to the Hall of Fame -- at the induction ceremony in New York in March. "That's a good bit away. It'll unfold in due course," Landau said.

In the weeks leading up to the release of Tracks on Tuesday, many fans called the four-CD set the collection they've long been waiting for -- and so far, they've been heading out to stores to prove it.

"We didn't know it was going to do this well, this fast," said Mark Anthony, pop buyer for the Tower Records outlet on Chicago's Clark Street. After just two days of sales, he said, the store had moved more than 80 of its 150 units and had already ordered a second shipment. At the Tower on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip, cashier Louis Alvarenga said Thursday that the store had already sold 128 copies of Tracks, more than any other new release.

Boasting 66 unreleased and rare songs -- including "Bishop Danced" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Loose Ends" (RealAudio excerpt) -- that were recorded between his first demo session in 1972 and the end of last summer, Tracks has already been pronounced a critical success.

Still, Springsteen told Time magazine that the album didn't clean out his vaults. Among the projects he has nearly completed are a set of a hip-hop-influenced songs from 1994, a country album from '95, plus new acoustic and electric collections. "Eventually I'm going to find a way to get this music out to people," Springsteen was quoted as saying.

However, when asked if fans might see any new Boss album in 1999, Landau said, "I don't think so."

He did allow that Springsteen has changed directions unexpectedly in the past. "You never can tell," he said. "But he's not recording right now. There's nothing imminent."

Landau, Springsteen and Tracks-producer Chuck Plotkin consider the box set a unified, new album, not a catch-all closet-cleaner, he added.

"We wanted it to be something that would stand on its own and have the musical legitimacy of everything that Bruce has done," Landau insisted. "It doesn't matter when it was recorded. We wanted it to be living music. We wanted people to have a direct experience with it now. We never conceived of it as some sort of historical project. In a lot of ways, we just feel like this is Bruce's new album."

Springsteen, the quintessential American rocker, from a blue-collar neighborhood in New Jersey, was announced as an inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Tuesday, along with other first-time nominees Beatles bassist/solo-artist Paul McCartney and piano-popster Billy Joel. Springsteen told the newspaper USA Today that he thought the E Streeters -- who won't be eligible for induction until next year -- would get their due one day.

"What the band contributed to my work is inestimable," the Boss was quoted as saying. "They exploded the definition of a backup band, and my work would have been different without them.

"[But] I conceive my career individually and independently. At some point, I imagine the Hall of Fame would find a mechanism to honor musicians that contributed to that degree to an artist's work."