OVER THE PAST 13 months, Bruce Springsteen has released six songs that aren't on any of his albums. Together they form the equivalent of a great EP.
The best known of the songs is "Pink Cadillac" (the B side of "Dancin' in the Dark"), a thumping rockabilly tribute to Springsteen's biggest hero, Elvis Presley, and to the enormous size of America's dreams and sins. In a similar vein is "Stand on It" (the B side of "Glory Days"), an infectious party dance tune; as Roy Bittan pounds out boogie-woogie piano, the Boss shouts out encouragement to everyone from a stock car driver to a hitchhiker to "stand on it!"
Much more chilling is "Shut Out the Light," (the B side of "Born in the U.S.A."), which Springsteen delivers with a fatalistic murmur backed simply by acoustic guitar, harmonica, fiddle and tamourine. The spare narrative tells of a Viet vet who's welcomed home but still can't shake his nighttime memories of the jungle. Another brooding song is "Johnny Bye Bye" (the B side of "I'm on Fire"), which is a darker, starker rockabilly tribute to Presley. Piling up images from the songs of Presley and Chuck Berry, Springsteen mourns his drug- poisoned idol and laments: "Johnny, bye bye, you didn't have to die."
Tom Waits' "Jersey Girl" (the B side of "Cover Me") is the best Springsteen song ever written by someone else (and there have been hundreds of attempts). Springsteen himself brought Waits' poignant tale of an aging beach bum to fruition on this six-minute live version from 1981.
When he was asked to contribute an unreleased track to the "We Are the World" album, Springsteen chose the 1984 live version of "Trapped," an obscure tune written by Jamaica's Jimmy Cliff. While the rest of that well-intentioned album approached the issue of hunger with childish, sentimental platitudes, "Trapped" captures the frustrated fury of someone locked in a situation beyond his control. More importantly, it captures the defiant promise to fight to change that situation.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN -- & the E Street Band: assorted singles and "We Are the World" (Columbia, USA 40043); sold out at RFK Stadium Sunday and Monday.