If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then fans of Bruce Springsteen and Def Leppard must be positively rapturous right now. Yesterday, both acts delivered their first new releases in almost five years, and according to area retailers, the fans were out in force.
Some stores, including Record & Tape Traders in Towson and Kemp Mill in Timonium, opened at midnight to give over-eager fans an early crack at the new albums.
"There were 60 people outside waiting when they opened," reported Amy Elton of Record & Tape Traders. "We sold 100 over all."
Things weren't quite as hectic over at Kemp Mill, though, where store manager Tom Sadowski said some 25 people were waiting for the late opening.
"It wasn't like U2 -- we had more people for U2 -- but since we do most of our advertisement on WHFS, we were expecting that," Mr. Sadowski explained.
As for who sold better, the Boss or the Leps, that pretty much depended on where you happened to be. In some parts of town, Springsteen's two new albums, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" were clearly born to move, while in others, it was Def Leppard's "Adrenalize" that caused the most hysteria.
"Right now Bruce is a little ahead of Def Leppard," said Debbie Koehler, assistant manager at the White Marsh branch of Record World, shortly after 5 yesterday afternoon. "Def Leppard is not doing quite as well, but since school let out, it's doing better."
Faron Hash, the head buyer at Record Theatre on Liberty Road, agreed that Springsteen got off to a better start. "We've done about a box -- 30 to 35 -- of CDs on each of the Bruce today, and about 10 each on the cassette," he said. "The Def Leppard has been a little slower, but I think we'll do a little better at night, because it's a younger crowd."
But at the Owings Mills Waxie Maxie, according to assistant manager David McMillan, "the Def Leppard is selling better than the Springsteen so far." Why? With two albums to choose from, McMillan said, "People don't know which one to buy. They're going to wait until they get some critical opinion."
That's one way to deal with a difficult choice; the other is to buy both, and at many stores, that's just what Springsteen fans were doing.
"Most people are buying both of the Springsteens, and they're selling very well," said Ms. Elton. "But," she added, "we're selling a bit more of the Def Leppard."
Most retailers pointed out that age is the biggest difference between the
two groups of fans. "I guess Springsteen buyers would be a mix of working class and yuppies," said Mr. Sadowski, "whereas it's a much younger audience for the Def Leppard."
But all agreed that time will ultimately determine who the big winner in this Clash of the Rock Titans will be.
"Part of the problem is that the release date came at the end of the month, and paychecks are not out until next week," observed Recordmasters president Mike Richman.
"But it is early, and tonight will tell the tale. Because when people start listening to these albums, the word-of-mouth will make the difference."