Posts Tagged ‘Clarence Clemons’

A consensus pick as one of the best nights on the Reunion tour, Los Angeles 23/10/99 brings it wire to wire, from the show-opening invocation “Meeting In The Town Tonight” into “Take ‘Em As They Come” through the rare, delightful closer “Blinded By The Light.” Other highlights of this peak Reunion set include “The Ties That Bind,” “Darkness On The Edge Of Town,” “The Promised Land,” “Incident On 57th Street,” “For You,” “Backstreets” “Light Of Day” (detouring briefly for a romp through “California Sun”) and the first solo piano version of “The Promise” in a formal concert since 1978.

Any longtime fan who has seen their fair share of Springsteen shows has at some point played the Time Machine game: If you could go back in time and see any Bruce concert, which would it be? A wish to witness tours and performances well before our time is a charming fantasy. More painful is taking stock of the shows you could have seen but didn’t.

This release of 23/10/99 confirms it is justified. The final LA ‘99 show is an outstanding Reunion tour performance, from the moment “Reverend” Clarence Clemons implores, “Brothers and Sisters, all rise” to start the show. There’s something special about Reunion sets that open with the “Meeting in the Town Tonight” preamble, and going from that straight into “Take ‘Em as They Come” is irresistible. The River outtake/Tracks highlight is one of those songs I never imagined I would hear in concert .

The elements that made the Reunion tour so enthralling. The band was back together for the first time since ‘88, but they were also playing unreleased songs I never dreamed possible in a Springsteen concert. Add to that the return of songs unplayed since the ‘70s and you had the intoxicating belief that any song could find its way into a Reunion tour setlist.

The first half of the set nails the ‘99 blueprint, with the notable inclusions of an excellent “The Ties That Bind” following “Take ‘Em,” a resolute “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and one of the best takes of “Factory” on the tour. It’s fascinating how distinct this “Adam Raised a Cain” is compared to the performance from the Chicago ‘99 archive release recorded less than a month before, putting more muscle into thick guitar where Chi-Town soared on incredible vocal dynamics.

Then there’s the humor. I’m not sure Bruce has ever been more deadpan than delivering jokes expressing his disdain for the corporate branding of LA’s state-of-the-art arena. “Good evening office supply lovers,” he says. “I’ve been searching for Mr. Staples.” On opening night of the run, he called out the building for its triple-decker skyboxes that start where upper bowl of a typical arena would be. “They don’t call ’em middle-of-the-room boxes,” he added, before invoking a line he famously uttered at The Roxy 21 years prior: “I don’t play no private parties anymore.” True to his word, despite Staples Center being the newest and biggest arena in Los Angeles, Bruce has not played another concert there to this day.

Every archive release provides an HD window to hear details otherwise lost on bootleg recordings and 10/23/99 is no exception. Though they are but a few seconds each, I love hearing Danny Federici’s organ swells at the start of “Murder Incorporated” and “Incident on 57th Street.” HD quality also shines a light on Roy Bittan’s lovely playing on the aforementioned “Factory,” not to mention Bruce and Patti’s lilting harmonies that wind down the song.

The back half of 10/23/99 is sensational. By request, we get “Incident on 57th Street.” This Wild & Innocent fan favorite returned to the set in Philadelphia on 9/25/99 for the first time since Nassau ‘80, but its appearance here is arguably even more special. Based on available setlists, Springsteen had never played the song on the west coast, let alone LA, going all the way back to 1974. For all but a lucky few, this was its Pacific Time Zone debut.

“Incident” is followed by an essentially perfect “For You,” which couldn’t be played better in ‘99 (maybe any year) than this. The pacing, the vocal intonation, the band, the spirit, Max’s cymbal work, the Big Man’s sax… all are spot on. A divine performance. The feeling of seeing the band leave stage and Bruce walking back to Roy’s piano by himself for a performance of the Promise, starting slightly tentative on piano then gaining composure. Bruce sings with a touch of weariness, taking time to let his words land and ultimately restoring one of his greatest compositions to the canon.

Bruce could do no wrong from that point forward, and he didn’t. Like “For You,” we’re gifted a remarkably timeless “Backstreets,” steeped with Bittan’s expressive piano. Setlist normalcy returns for the end of the set and the encore, delivered with high-gear intensity. “Light of Day” is extra fun, with a quick romp through “California Sun” (made famous by The Rivieras) by way of the memorable guitar riff from Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man.”

As the last show in LA, /23/99 is definitely a “one more song” kind of night. To the delight of every office supply lover in the building, we’re treated to “Blinded By the Light,” in only its second performance since 1976. Though arguably Bruce’s most famous song pre-Born to Run (largely because of the Manfred Mann cover), the song has a spotty performance history even back in the day. Its celebratory, playful appearance seals the night with a fitting E Street kiss goodnight.

words by Erik Flanagan

Bruce Springsteen – Lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano; Roy Bittan – Piano, keyboards; Clarence Clemons – Tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, backing vocal; Danny Federici – Organ, keyboards; Nils Lofgren – Guitar, pedal steel; Patti Scialfa – Guitar, percussion, backing vocal; Garry Tallent – Bass; Stevie Van Zandt – Electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, backing vocal; Max Weinberg – Drums

ORDER NOW: 12/29/80 - NASSAU COLISEUM

December 29th, 1980 Night two of the legendary three-show stand at Nassau Coliseum 1980 is a barnstormer. It features the tour premiere of “Night” as the opener and, in its lone River tour performance, an extraordinary “Incident On 57th Street” into “Rosalita” to close the set. Spanning 35 songs, Nassau  29th beautifully blends deep River cuts (“Stolen Car,” “Wreck on the Highway,” “Point Blank”), seasonal nuggets (“Merry Christmas Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and fan favorites (“Fire,” “Because the Night”).

One of the most thrilling times to be a sports fan is when your team is in the midst of a winning streak. They occur in all sports, but in baseball and especially basketball, winning streaks are irresistible because of the unique way they place team chemistry, a “never give up” mentality, and moments of individual brilliance against a backdrop of ever-rising stakes. Who doesn’t want to tune in to see if your team can push their streak to 17, 21, or 33 in a row?

It could be argued that the entire live performance history of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is one long winning streak. That acknowledged, and with the benefit of hindsight and live recordings, fan consensus has coalesced around notable E Street streaks: the last two weeks of the 1977 tour with the Miami Horns; the late-’84 stretch of the Born in the U.S.A. tour.; and the final U.S. leg of Magic 2008 to name but a few.

The River tour boasts a few of its own streaks, and without question, Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve 1980 is among the best of them. A staggering run of shows throughout the Northeast culminated in a three-night stand at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. With his first chart-topping album and a Top Five single (“Hungry Heart”) in hand, Bruce and the band closed out 1980 more popular than ever.

Shows that wrapped that leg of the tour offered an intoxicating mix of musician-athletes performing at their peak, newfound confidence drawn from a long-awaited commercial breakthrough, and a continued hunger to prove it all night.

Supporting a double album of new material, that hunger was manifest in the increasing duration of the concerts and the stunning number of songs performed. In fact, until records were broken in 2012, the late-’80 River shows were the longest of Bruce’s career. Other shows and tours have their own distinct qualities, but if you are talking about a run of epic Springsteen concerts, the Thanksgiving-New Year’s ’80 streak is the reference point.

Nassau Coliseum 29/ 12/80 and its sister show 31/12/80 (reissued in a newly remixed and remastered edition) each stretch to 35 or more songs and live up to the legend of Bruce’s four-hour concerts by running close to that (counting the between-sets intermission). There may be other eras where the band played this well, but there is no period where they played better.

Both stunning performances are packed with delicious rarities along with some of the strongest versions of core material ever caught on multi-tracks. With a bounty of more than 70 songs between the two shows, there’s too much good stuff to cover, but here are ten things to listen for as you relive these magical nights.

1.Springsteen debuted his brilliant take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” three shows earlier at Madison Square Garden. It has endured as one of the band’s finest covers, popping up a few times on tours ever since. The versions performed on 29/12 and 31/12 are musically rich and heartfelt, pointing to the musical direction Bruce would explore six months hence on the band’s first proper tour of Europe.

2. Having just read Joe Klein’s biography of Woody Guthrie, Bruce covers “This Land Is Your Land” for the first time during the three-show Nassau stand, calling it an “angry song…an answer to Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’.” With the possible exception of a one-off performance of Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” in 1978, it is the first protest song Springsteen performed in concert with the E Street Band and signals the start of his public turn toward social and political commentary.

3. The paternal pairing of “Factory” and “Independence Day” on 29/12 is not only an evocative stretch of storytelling, but could pass for a dramatic monologue at a Broadway theater.

4. One of the signature sequences of early River tour shows is Roy Bittan’s mini-suite of “The River” into “Badlands.” 1980 performances of “The River” start with an original piano prelude (echoed by Danny Federici) before Bruce’s plaintive harmonica wail starts the song formally. Shortly after “The River” ends, Bittan starts into his interpretation of Ennio Morricone’s theme from the Sergio Leone filmOnce Upon A Time In The West. As Bittan plays the moving piano refrain, electric guitar chords start to chime in, building energy that crescendos when the intro gives way to an explosive “Badlands.” Magnificent.

5. The River tour is the height of Stevie Van Zandt’s role as backing vocalist, at times reaching the point of co-lead vocals. He’s a marvel at these shows on expected songs like “Two Hearts” and “Prove It All Night,” but listen for him in more unexpected places like the chorus of “Thunder Road” for signs of just how into it he is at Nassau.

6. Bruce’s spirited vocal on “For You” is full of fresh intonations distinct from other renditions.

7. The earnest story that leads into “Stolen Car” on 12/29 might melt your heart; the moving performance itself will have you reaching for a tissue or three.

8. The gorgeous, stripped-down arrangement of “The Price You Pay” on 31/12 starts solo. The band joins softly in the second verse, and we’re treated to the alternate third verse found in the single-disc version of The River included in The Ties That Bind box set. As good as it gets.

9. While we’ve heard the incredible version of “Incident on 57th Street” from 29/12 before (it was released as the b-side to “War” from Live 1975/85), hearing it in context of the show is so much sweeter. “This is a song we haven’t done in a real long time,” says Bruce, as he tests out the chords on his guitar. “No, it ain’t ‘Kitty’s Back.’ I hope I remember all the words….” Roy tinkles out the first few notes, the crowd swoons in recognition of the song, Max comes with his drum intro, and the lead guitar sends us soaring. If that wasn’t enough, after nearly ten majestic minutes, it rolls straight into “Rosalita” as it does on The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.

10. You want rarities? We got rarities. Beyond the aforementioned, the Nassau shows feature “Rendezvous,” the first-ever version of the “Hungry Heart” b-side “Held Up Without a Gun,” sublime seasonal nuggets “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” plus Happy New Year covers of “In the Midnight Hour” and “Auld Lang Syne.” All that, plus 15 of the 20 songs on The River, including the under-played “Fade Away,” “Wreck on the Highway” and “The Price You Pay.”

A Final Note: Jon Altschiller’s new mix and mastering on 31/12/80 moves the listener from the 40th row to the first, proximity that reveals incredible new detail and musical power.

After electing to Plangent Process 29/12/80 for release, it was clear that 31/12/80 also deserved a Plangent-transferred new mix and mastering to match, as the version released in 2015 was not up to the same standards.
While the Plangent Processed and remixed version of 31/12/80 is being sold as a standalone release, anyone who bought the original can access the new upgraded audio for free via the “My Stash” section of the nugs.net app, which provides streaming access to all shows purchased as downloads or CDs (no subscription required). Previous buyers of New Years Eve ’80 can log in with the account credentials they used to buy the show the first time.

ORDER NOW: 12/31/80 - NASSAU COLISEUM

December 31st, 1980 For the first time, multi-track master tapes of the classic New Year’s Eve 1980 show have been transferred via Plangent Processes and newly remixed by Jon Altschiller for superior sound. This upgraded edition breathes fresh life into a jaw-dropping 38-song performance which is packed with highlights, including “Spirit in the Night,” “Rendezvous,” “Fade Away,” “The Price You Pay,” “Held Up Without a Gun,” “In The Midnight Hour,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Twist and Shout” and “Raise Your Hand.” The all-time fan favorite has never sounded better.

The Band:

  • Bruce Springsteen – Lead vocal, guitar, harmonica; Roy Bittan – Piano, keyboards; Clarence Clemons – Tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, backing vocal; Danny Federici – Organ, glockenspiel, accordion; Garry Tallent – Bass; Stevie Van Zandt – Electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocal; Max Weinberg – Drums

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band had been on the road for well over a year when the Born In The USA tour wrapped up with a four-night stand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in late September 1985. Springsteen was at the absolute pinnacle of his success after seeing six straight singles from the album hit the Top Ten (with a seventh on the way) and sold out stadiums and arenas anywhere he played. A professional crew was on hand to record every night of the run for the Live 1975-85 box set, but they wound up only using recordings from night three. The tape of opening night on September 27th, 1985 has sat in the vault for the past 34 years, but today Springsteen has released it as part of his ongoing live download series.

Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, 1985 represents the apex of Bruce Springsteen’s mass popularity. No concerts performed before or since represent the same level of mainstream cultural impact inherent in the final four performances that wrapped the mammoth Born in the U.S.A. tour.

According to the LA Times, on September 27th, opening night of the sold-out stand, Bruce and the band played to 83,000 people. That means over the course of four sold-out shows, more than 330,000 people clicked the turnstiles at the site of two Olympic Games, to see not world-class athletes but the world’s greatest live performer. Staggering.

Springsteen long factored for the person in the very last row at his concerts, but now that fan was 100-150 yards from the stage. Scaling up production elements at stadiums to deliver a comparable level of band-to-fan connection was crucial, and that affected everything from the sound of Max’s drums and the quality and size of the stage-side video screens to the clothing the band wore on stage, which was brightly colored to help boost the visibility and discernibility of individual members from far away.

Los Angeles 1985 starts as it must with a dazzling “Born in the U.S.A.” Jon Altschiller’s zoomed-in mix (with a notably livelier audience levels) dials in a difficult-to-achieve balance of synthesizer and guitar. The deepest notes of the former provide a sternum-compressing whoosh that anyone who saw a BIUSA stadium show will remember; the latter more forward and clearer than we often hear on 1985 recordings. As Bruce sings, “long gone daddy in the U.S.A.,” we get some real chugga chugga licks, followed later by an extended solo that’s up there with the great ones that append the song on the 1988 Tunnel of Love tour. As for Max Weinberg, he absolutely crushes one of the best live versions of “Born in the U.S.A.” ever released.

At this point of the 1984-85 tour, the E Street Band was a machine in the best sense of that word, operating under both Bruce’s and the individual players’ master control. The transition from “U.S.A.” to “Badlands” is lush with Danny Federici organ swirls, and we can hear every band member in sharp detail right down to Clarence Clemons’ percussion.

LA 1985 is rife with distinct moments worth highlighting: Bruce singing out, “debts that no honest man could pay” with particular passion on “Atlantic City,” and matching that energy again for the last line of “Downbound Train”; the happiness in his voice ahead of “Glory Days” as he talks about turning 36 four days prior; Patti Scialfa’s soaring high notes that raise “Trapped” to full crescendo; Clarence’s under-appreciated solo on the same song releasing the pent-up tension that makes the arrangement so mesmerizing; the heightened peaks of the extended “Cover Me” that finally relent to the breakneck release of “Dancing in the Dark” (the exclusion of which from Live/1975-85 still puzzles); Roy’s best Jerry Lee Lewis impression splashing all over a rip-roaring and rarely played “Stand On It.”

But the E Street MVP this night is Nils Lofgren. LA 1985 is an opportunity for reappreciation of how much of the load he carried on the tour and the many spots when he shined. His intro to “Seeds” oozes dirtier than you might recall, and the hypnotic prelude to “I’m on Fire” alters the tone of the song significantly.

As Nils plays, Springsteen’s spoken introduction to “I’m on Fire” (omitted on Live/1975-85) subtly shifts the song’s narrative, too. He speaks of the struggles endured by his father and mother, and of his fear that, if he didn’t get out, whatever sense of hope and happiness was figuratively dying inside his dad would be his fate as well. Lying awake in bed, thinking dark thoughts like one of the characters he wrote about on Nebraska, the narrator confesses he understands how one could snap. It makes the “Hey little girl is your daddy home” that follows more of a disturbing dream.

What’s commendable given the circumstances and stakes surrounding LA 1985 is that Bruce is still taking risks and using his status to make a statement. The night marks the daring debut of Edwin Starr’s righteous anthem “War,” written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield. With lyrics taped to his forearm, Springsteen tears into the anti-war cry, in a version appealingly raw compared to the finished track that would later become the first single released from Live/1975-85. For a man whose messages and political views had been co-opted and misinterpreted of late, “War” allows zero ambiguity, no more so than when Bruce implores, “Tell your mama!” Nils adds another compelling guitar intro here, as Bruce sounds his solemn warning that “blind faith in anything…will get you killed.”

The bulk of LA 1985 is made up of what might be called a refined stadium setlist, optimized for maximum impact in venues of this scale. Over the last 34 years, so-called stadium friendly material suggested something that couldn’t compare to the greatest theater and arena performances that preceded it. Yet listening today, one marvels at how skillfully the band is playing in front of 83,000, not merely showing themselves up to the task of reaching that distant back row but retaining the tightness, power, and nuance that made them the best live act in the world. In other words, don’t sleep on ‘85.

Stadium staples aside, let’s not overlook the second of the night’s world premieres. “Alright, let’s try it” serves as the rallying cry to the live debut of “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart,” the charming Born in the U.S.A. outtake and “I’m Goin’ Down” b-side that is a kindred spirit to another equally enchanting leftover, “Be True.” Both share a certain mid-tempo melodic romanticism that marks a lot of the songs Bruce often left on the cutting room floor. It’s a winning version that curiously omits The Big Man’s recorded sax solo in favor of piano solo by The Professor. Listen for Bruce hooting encouragement and howling with glee as Roy takes the spotlight. He clearly likes Janey.

The show wraps fittingly with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band,” resplendent with Clarence’s baritone sax, Roy’s piano fills, and nearly a dozen tour-stop name checks. It’s the perfect selection for the end of the line, recalling the mystery train that left the station at a St. Paul arena 15 months earlier and wound up conquering the world by the time it came to a halt in LA, playing to an audience more than five times the size.

Thanks Erik Flanagan

Bruce Springsteen  took the stage at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey 40 years ago as a man on a mission to prove that he wasn’t a flash in the pan who could be washed up at just 28. that night he delivered to the 3,200 fans in attendance not merely a great show but the concert that many consider the single-best performance of his career, one captured for posterity on a WNEW-FM simulcast broadcast throughout the East Coast and recorded with then state-of-the-art video technology at the venue itself.

“I’d just recently vanished for three years,” Springsteen wrote in his autobiography, Born to Run. A dispute with his manager had delayed the release of his follow up to the Born to Run album for nearly three years, an impossibly long time in the industry at the time. “[I] had barely felt visible most of my life, and if I could help it, I wasn’t going back.”

Richard Neer was simulcasting the show that night and realized from the start that something was different. “Usually Bruce would say something before the show for the simulcast in a joking way like he was a boxer ready to take the ring.” But there was no mock Muhammad Ali on this night.

Bruce didn’t say anything that night,” remembers Neer, He was so amped up, “He just couldn’t wait to get out there. Bruce has done so many shows and many argue which one was the best one. But this one had a lot of energy. It meant a lot for him and the band to be in New Jersey. It seems ridiculous now, but then he really had to prove he wasn’t a one-album guy.” While many shows on this tour opened with a cover, Springsteen decided to begin this night with a version of “Badlands” delivered with such fiery passion that it’s hard to believe there was anywhere left to go for the remaining three-plus hours.

Springsteen shows are communal events. And the birth of that really began on this tour. His fans by then had absorbed his recordings to the point where they could participate in the show in some odd dichotomy of both choreography and spontaneity. The audience never really knew how far and exactly when Springsteen would let them venture into the show—or how far he literally would venture into the crowd. On this night, it was farther than ever before, this was after Clarence Clemens took the saxophone solo into the crowd as well in “Spirit In The Night.”

Springsteen’s story telling, now honed to the point where he can carry a Broadway show not merely with his music but his words, is in fine form in “Thunder Road,” as well as his politics and his humanity. The power of the introduction moves the crowd to a spiritual connection rarely seen in rock and roll. Suddenly, he has more than 3,000 backup singers. There’s one big stage at a Springsteen concert, especially in that period, and the audience was on it. And that would become a defining characteristic of the Springsteen concert experience.

This tour featured for the first time the two-set Bruce concert experience. The show was broken up this way, Springsteen says, so he could give the audience the new material from the Darkness On The Edge Of Town album that he felt they needed to hear, along with the then more established music that they wanted to hear.

“The live power, the strength of the of the E Street Band proved invaluable and, night after night, we sent our listeners away, back too the recorded versions of this music, newly able to hear their beauty and restrained power,” Springsteen wrote.

The “Darkness” material was so powerful live that this bifurcation soon became unnecessary. And songs from Darkness also bled into the second set. They were received with enthusiasm rarely seen at shows featuring new material. “Candy’s Room” here is the best example of this, about two hours into the show. Bruce’s restraint as he holds the artillery that he and the audience knows is coming in full fury is thrilling.

But Springsteen doesn’t want you to feel just something at a concert. He wants you to feel everything. The entire range of human emotion condensed into one, unforgettable night. And his commitment every night to delivering this has never been better chronicled.

“I want an extreme experience,” he told The New Yorker in 2006. When you leave, he wants, “your hands hurting, your feet hurting, your back hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated!”

“10th Avenue Freeze Out” is three hours into the show, with Bruce drenched despite playing on what Neer said was a very cold September night. But his enjoyment is palpable and infectious.

“For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself,” Springsteen said in that 2006 interview. “Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in. Music, when it’s really great, pries that shit back open and lets people back in, it lets light in, and air in, and energy in, and sends people home with that and sends me back to the hotel with it. People carry that with them sometimes for a very long period of time.”

There’s no letup, with the show closer featuring fans on the stage as Bruce triumphantly exiting with a woman from the crowd strapped to his arm.

Could it really be that Springsteen’s greatest concert ever was in a former porn palace in Passaic, N.J., a site that became a venue only to fill the area void created by he closing the Fillmore East? (The Capitol declined after a Sgt. Pepper year in 1978 featuring not just Springsteen but also The Rolling Stones and The Who; it eventually closed when the then Brendan Byrne Arena was opened a few miles away in East Rutherford, ironically by Springsteen before the paint was even dry.)

Part of this show’s legacy was that it was recorded in radio quality and went on to become one of the most bootlegged concerts in history. Not to mention the video. Here it’s listed in the top spot on a very well-thought-out list of Springsteen performances. And note the live recording released by Springsteen last year was of the show at the venue the next night, featuring a revamped set list (another Springsteen innovation to keep the crowd even more on edge). Of course, the top Springsteen performance ever is no doubt a very strong contender for the best rock concert in history, too. All in an obscure New Jersey town, with Springsteen spurred on by fear of irrelevance and a desire to live out one of his iconic songs.

“Everybody’s got a hunger, a hunger they can’t resist
There’s so much that you want, you deserve much more than this
But if dreams came true, oh, wouldn’t that be nice
But this ain’t no dream we’re living through tonight
Girl, you want it, you take it, you pay the price”

Prove It all Night with the classic, searing, intense guitar work that was the hallmark of the ’78 Darkness Tour. From the 19th September, 1978 Passaic show. Play this LOUD.

Radio broadcast, soundboard tapes (all three nights in Passaic were recorded by the Record Plant’s mobile unit, both on multi-track and live-to-two track) and professionally shot in-house black and white video. Probably one of the best all-time concert recordings. Broadcast on WNEW-FM New York and nine other stations in the north-east, including WBCN-FM and WCOZ-FM Boston, WIOQ-FM Philadelphia and WIYY-FM Baltimore. Set includes great versions of “Because The Night” and “Fire,” and also includes what many consider to be the finest examples of “Racing In The Street” and “Thunder Road” ever. ”

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On this day (August. 13th) in 1975: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performed the first of five sold-out nights at New York City’s Bottom Line; the Greenwich Village music club had a capacity of only 400/500…The ten-show stand at the Bottom Line early in the (Born to Run) tour remains a rock date to rival James Brown at the Apollo or Dylan at Newport. At the Bottom Line, Springsteen became himself. By adding Stevie Van Zandt as a second guitar player, he was liberated from some of his musical duties, and he became a full-throttle front man, leaping off amps and pianos, frog-hopping from one tabletop to the next.

On August 13th, 1975, it was twelve days before the release of Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band began their five night, ten show stand at The Bottom Line. With two shows each night an early and a late set, This was a new E Street Band, with keyboardist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg replacing David Sancious and Ernest “Boom” Carter, respectively. Steven Van Zandt, who’d played in an earlier band with Springsteen, joined as a  second guitarist.

Columbia Records executives were frustrated by Springsteen’s lack of success. They purchased a quarter of the tickets at the 500 seat venue and distributed them to music industry types to get the word out.  Even so, not all of the shows were sold out until after WNEW-FM broadcast the fifth show. After that, people were lined up around the block to get in.

There are numerous bootlegs of these shows all over the internet. Listening, you have to remind yourself how little known some of these legendary songs were at the time . In “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”, during the second show, when Springsteen sings “And the Big Man joined the band”, there is absolutely no reaction from the crowd. A week later and from then on, it would become one of the great applause lines of every show. The shows had their desired effect. Ken Tucker wrote in the Soho Weekly News “I have just come from the best rock and roll performance I’ve ever seen in my long, decadent life”. The Village Voice‘s Paul Nelson responded in the affirmative to his cover story ” Is Springsteen Worth The Hype?”: “On my feet, clapping, never wanting it to end, I ask myself when I’ve ever been so moved by a concert.”
“It was our coming-out party,” Springsteen says. “And some sort of transformation occurred over those five nights. We walked out of that place in a different place.”

Robert De Niro, was in New York shooting Taxi Driver, he caught one of the Bottom Line shows. He watched as the crowd yelled “Brruuuuuuce!” and Springsteen responded with “You talkin’ to me?”.
De Niro would make that line his own in an improvised scene shot within the next couple of days.

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The highlights August 15th 1975 Early Show

In August 1975, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band performed a 5-night stand at Bottom Line in New York City, NY, from 13 to 17 Aug 1975. They played two shows each night, an early one at 8:30 p.m. and a late one at 11:30 p.m. All ten shows were sold-out. The early 15th August 1975 show was broadcast live by New York’s WNEW-FM.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER this previously uncirculated treasure is now being shared with Bruce Springsteen fans worldwide! The Bottom Line Shows are legendary and for those wondering if a recording of the August 13th, 1975 show would ever surface, the wait is finally over! For a fan who was there in those early days, Mr Anonymous can tell you what it was like:

“The story of Bruce’s early days has been documented many times, most recently in the current New Yorker magazine. As described therein, Bruce’s five night, ten show stint at The Bottom Line was crucial to launching his third album, “Born to Run”. Many executives at Columbia Records were frustrated with Bruce’s lack of commercial success and Born to Run was likely his last chance with the label. Columbia reportedly bought a quarter of the 500 seats for each show to distribute among music industry people . Even so, tickets did not sell out immediately and a week after going on sale they were available for any of the shows. That all ended when the public heard WNEW’s broadcast of show number 5. The next two nights, fans were lined up around the corner with the hope of getting a standing room spot at the bar to hear the new phenomenen.

This is the first recording of one of the late shows to surface. It is the first night and this tape captures all of the ambiance of this intimate club. You can hear each breath and whisper from Bruce while dishes and glasses are shuffled on the tables. Bruce seems to just appear behind the piano and gets a single reaction from the crowd as he opens solo with “For You”. It is evident how he captures the crowd more and more with each song. By the time he hits the 20 minute versions of “Kitty’s Back” and “New York City Serenade”, he has them in his hands.”

Bruce Springsteen Bottom Line 1975 cover artwork

Thanks to Mr. Anonymous who met the taper, ODoc55, thru Dimeadozen

Bruce Springsteen 13th August 1975  The Bottom Line – New York, NY – set list:

For You (Bruce On Piano) (7:09)
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (4:08)
Spirit In The Night (6:31)
When You Walk In The Room (3:58)
Night – (First Known Performance) (3:39)
Growin’ Up (3:05)
Its Hard To Be A Sain In The City (5:31)
The E Street Shuffle (12:17)
Born To Run (4:12)
She’s The One (5:38)
Thunder Road – (Bruce On Piano) (5:47)

Kitty’S Back (19:56)
New York City Serenade (19:26)
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (11:38)
Fourth Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (7:08)
Quarter To Three (6:55)

The first known live performance of “Night” and the earliest known recording of “When You Walk In The Room”. Opener “For You” is played by Bruce alone onstage at the piano. “Thunder Road” is the slow version with Roy on piano and Bruce on harmonica and vocals. Both “Kitty’s Back”, which includes a brief snippet of Carole King’s “Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby”, and “New York City Serenade” are extended 19+ minute renditions. This is the last recorded and confirmed performance of “New York City Serenade” until the 1999/2000 Reunion Tour

This sound source has some crackling, and sound does fade in and out a bit here and there, because this source was recorded off the radio broadcast, but it is sourced from a master tape of the show, not the vinyl record source. So there are a few tape cuts between songs, and a few times the source sound varies, but overall a very, very nice recording.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band“The E Street Shuffle” Live on 8/15/1975 at the Bottom Line in New York City, Recorded during the early show (of two that night) on 15th Aug.-1975.

The Bottom Line club only held 400 people, and it was unique in that it had seating rather than standing room only.This made for a small and intimate atmosphere between the audience and performer. The E-Street band at this time was: Clarence Clemons-sax, Garry Tallent-bass guitar, Roy Bittan-piano, Danny Federici-organ/accordion, Max Weinberg-drums, Steve Van Zandt-guitars, and Bruce.

Max Weinberg and Steve Van Zant,  both had only been in the band less than a year, joining in September.-1974 and March-1975 respectively. This was clearly the start of Bruce’s fame, and these shows are legendary.

Rolling Stone magazine listed this run of shows as one of the top-ten defining moments in rock and roll history, right up there in “the top ten” along with: Elvis at Sun Studio 1954, Rolling Stones 1971 Exile on Main St. summer, Dylan going electric in 1965, ect.

The Boss and the band put everything they had into these shows, and it shows…..despite being early Springsteen, the charisma and dynamic intensity is obvious. After these shows, Springsteen and the E Street Band became a mighty force to be reckonned within the rock and roll industry.

They were no longer just the “opening act” but headliners selling out arenas and large concert halls.

After this run at the Bottom Line, gone were the days of playing small clubs like the Student Prince, the Stone Pony, the Main Point.
Now Bruce was going to be headlining such places as the Spectrum, Madison Square Gardens, Hammersmith Odeon, Boston Gardens, LA Forum. If you couple this with his show at the Main Point club on 05th Feb.-1975, this was the beginning of the Springsteen wave of popularity, and the point of no return for Bruce and the band. A month later after this run of shows, Springsteen made the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines in the same week.
These performances are among the best early Springsteen I have ever heard, This show, along with the Main Point show of 05th Feb.-1975 are incredible considering Springsteen was only 25-years old at the time.

He had come a long way in 3-years since auditioning for John Hammond Sr. in May 1972. As John Hammond Sr. put it: “When Dylan came to me to audition, he was simply Robert Zimmerman. But when Bruce came to me, he was already Bruce Springsteen, he was already a Superstar on his way….he was much further developed….everyone just knew he was going to be huge.” To be sure, there would be the future legendary Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour shows in 1978, but up until that time, there would be no finer Springsteen performances than this run of shows at the Bottom Line.

Between song banter has been edited a bit, but Bruce and the band do have some very funny comments.
Songs are complete, and band performance is top notch. Springsteen and his lawyers went all out to prevent sale of the vinyl record way back in 1976 threatening lawsuits against distribution.

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This was because Springsteen had recorded several of the Bottom Line shows for a possible official live album release. So Springsteen decided to release a live album officially, with performances culled from the run of live shows at the Bottom Line club during August 1975.but these are on the source tape, not taken from a vinyl transfer. There is a complete CD set of the entire broadcast that includes complete between song banter, radio DJ comments, ect. is called: “The Punk Meets The Godfather” on Godfather CD’s.

At the early show, “Thunder Road” is performed in the slow version with Roy on piano and Bruce on harmonica and vocals. “Rosalita Come Out Tonight” includes a snippet of “Theme From Shaft” in the midsection. At the late show, “For You” is performed solo piano and “Thunder Road” is performed full band. The setlist would also include the only known 1975 performance of the rhythm and blues standard “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66”.

There are rumors that at least one of the Bottom Line shows was professionally filmed by Bruce, possibly parts of other Bottom Line shows also. Film footage is rumored to be hi-quality color, pro-shot with several cameras, and is a complete performance.

Legend has it that this film footage is considered to be “superb” by the Springsteen band, and was a serious contender for inclusion with the 30th Anniversary release of the Born To Run box set.

Bruce was also known for his opening stories to introduce his songs

15.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ´The E Street Shuffle´
´´Bam !….It was about, uh….it was about three, four years ago, four years ago now, about this time of the year, it was…it was around August, it was a night like this….and uh…I was working in this bar down on the Shore, right….I worked there for about three or four months, this place called The Student Prince (someone yells) (chuckles) Where you going ?…and uh, I worked there for about, like I said three or four months, it was like, there was me and it was Steve here and me and Steve, was Garry, Garry was in the band then….Southside Johnny, this cat Southside Johnny….do you folks get down to the Shore much ? (cheers)… alright, well, you gotta go see Southside Johnny´s band, he´s, he´s got a band down, yeah, The Jukes.…alright (laughs)…..and anyway, this is about three, four years ago, me and Steve and Garry , we´re working in this bar down there….and, uh….like we was feeling like, it was like, it was, we was feeling like…. real discouraged at the time because nobody would give us a gig or nothing, you know, we went into this bar, like the only way we got this job was this guy had just bought the bar and we went into this bar about, like, at midnight on a Saturday night, you know, when the joint, you know, should be, you know, should be a few folks in there, right, went into this place….the darkest, dampest, dingiest place you ever seen and there was nobody in there, right, so we figure, you know, so we walk up to the cat and we say ´ Listen, we´ll come in, man, we´ll play for the door, we´ll play for, you know, we´ll charge a dollar at the door and we´ll play for that´….so we had a seven-piece band at the time, we had a big band and we brought the band in the first week and, uh, and, uh and we played and we made about like….hell, we must´ve made. (Steve: ´13.75´) yeah, we split 13.75 between us….and, uh, a few guys quit, you know (chuckles)….the next week I was there with a six-piece band….threw some cat out, next week a five-piece band, this went on for a few weeks, right… until we got it down to, to like…. you get down to your boys when you´re starving and it was like ….it was like we was playing this joint and we was always figuring, like, these people was always trying to set us up like ´Man, I got the manager from the Byrds coming down here tonight to check you guys out, right…. so like you dudes better be good, right´….so, so like we would play like, like mad dogs all night and like three in the morning we´d all be sitting at this damn little table saying ´Where is the cat ? You know ? What happened to the joker ? Where is the dude ?´ so….and Steve, Steve was like, uh…. Steve was known then, he was known, he was like, he´d practise his guitar day in day out, night and day, all the time, every time I´d see him he would practise, practise, practise, right …he always had his guitar with him everywhere he went, you know, see him on the boardwalk he´s got his guitar with him like that, you know, practise, practise, practise….so, so one night after the, after the gig, you know, after the gig, we was all feeling like down in the dumps and we was all pissed off and mad, you know, figuring ´Man, we´re better´, you know when you´re sitting there saying ´Man, we´re better than them cats and they got two records out, how come we ain´t got no record out ?´, right…..so you do all that kind of stuff, you know, so me and Steve was feeling really really drug out and we figured we were gonna go home so we figured we´d walk home down, (?) we´d walk north along the boardwalk, you know… so we got out there and it was a nasty damn night, it was raining, it was raining and, and….and the club was flooded ´cause some, like, bikers came along and ripped off the front door, right….really, they just took the sucker off, you know, brought it home or something, I don´t know what they did with it…..they ate that thing, right, so….so we was walking down the boardwalk this time of night, you know, it was late, must´ve been four in the morning…. Steve had his guitar with him….he was practising …..and we was just walking down the boardwalk figuring we wanted to get home, you know….so…. all of a sudden….way down at the other end of the boardwalk ….we see something coming, man, there´s something coming down….I said ´Steve, you see something down there, something coming ?´ (Steve : ´Uh, huh´), he says ´Yeah´…. I said ´I don´t know what that is´ but we don´t want to take no chances like, you know, we just wanted to get home, we don´t wanna fool around so….so we ducked into this doorway, you know and, and he says ´Man´, he told me to peek out and I peeked out, you know….and whatever it was, man, it was coming , it was, like, it was raining, the wind was blowing, it was in this, it was in this big mist and it was dressed all in white, with a walking stick, walking like there ain´t no rain, no wind, I said ´Steve! Are you, am I crazy or is that dude carrying a saxophone ?´ (cheers)(chuckles)….so….we figured any cat at four in the morning, dressed in white, walking like there´s no rain with a saxophone was not to be messed with ! was let to walk on by, right….so we, we huddled in the doorway and we were sort of scared, you know, like we were….we were a little scared (?) we didn´t want to get messed around or nothing, I said ´That´s all I need, come home with 3.50 and a messed-up face tonight´, so….so we heard his, we heard his his footsteps coming closer…. and they came closer and closer…..they came even a little closer than that…..ok….and, and, and we figured now, we figured this was no time to look like you´re scared, right, we figured this guy is gonna come along, we better like, you know, better act like at least like we´re bad, so here the cat´s coming and we´re starting to get ready for (?)… and, right, we´re getting ready and, and it´s like….and this cat came up and he turned and he faced off right in front of us in the doorway and we just jumped back like this…. and, and the first we did was we threw all our money down, right….threw all the damn money down, right and then, you know, like I, I didn´t know where the cat was at, he didn´t move and did nothing, right, he stood there (?) held, it was a saxophone, I took off my sneakers, I wasn´t going to take no chances, I threw that down, I figured he might want me to do that….but all he did was put out his hand….so me and Steve, man, we leaned back and ….we got…. just a little closer…. and then when we touched it was like …”

15.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ´Kitty´s Back´
´´Funny thing happened the other day, I had a few days off, you know, and uh….before I played here, I had a couple of days off and I was staying at home, you know, like, staying down by the beach and uh….one day we figured, you know (?)…me and Steve and Clarence, we went down…we was walking down the boardwalk and uh, you know, (?) and we see this new cat, you know, a new man outside the fortuneteller joint, right, this cat´s got a turban, you know, it was a, it was green, it was like light green kind of color (?) and he had one of those red rubies, you know, red rubies in his head and like, he says ´Come on in, man´, you know, ´you wanna find out what´s happening tomorrow, today´ so….we figured we´d, you know, I don´t usually go into them joints, I don´t like them joints too much, they scare me, right...Clarence, for some reason, Clarence was into finding out what was happening tomorrow….today, right, so we figured 50 cents, we´d go in and catch 50 cents´ worth of tomorrow so….we go in and we´re sitting there, we´re sitting there, we´re sitting there for like and watching the clock and 45 minutes go by, right, and we were wondering what´s with the gypsy, man, you know, (?) somebody in there´s got a whole lot of tomorrow (chuckles), anyway, the curtains finally part, out comes this skinny girl, right….her dress all twisted and she had, her knees are shaking and she looks like, and she drops and falls right in front of us and she passes out….so like …. we figured….too much tomorrow, right….not enough, not enough today (chuckles) …. so ….so the cat with the turban drug her out, outside, drug her out onto the boardwalk and they´re, you know, they´re waking her, you know, she ran off screaming down towards (?)….but anyway, so finally we go in, you know, we go in there and we´re sitting there and she says ´Ok´, you know, she´s rubbing her hands, she´s looking at us, she´s like, she says ´Ok, uh, which one of you guys wants to find out what´s gonna happen first ?´, you know….so like….so we flipped a coin, you know, and Stevie said he didn´t wanna and all of a sudden Clarence didn´t wanna either….so they put it on the Boss, right…. being the Boss, you see, being the Boss, you got to like, you got to have this leadership, you know, you got to, you can´t let it show that you´re scared and nervous, you know, like (?)…. so I figured ´Ok, you know, I´ll find out´ so I gave her my 50 cents, right, she looked at me a few times and (?) on the table she had this crystal ball, you know, and (?) the ball, says ´Ok, son, I´m gonna look into that crystal ball, I´m going to know what´s happening´, so I said ´Alright´ and she starts checking the thing out and, and….the thing starts smoking up ….you know how they do that, it´s smoking up, it was getting all smoky and stuff and she was checking it closer and closer and she just looked in so close she had her face right up on that thing, you know….and then all of a sudden she started shrieking and screaming and yelling and doing all things, she slipped off chair, she fell down on the floor and became unconscious in front of us….so we said ´Gypsy lady !´, you know, ´Gypsy lady, what´s, what´s happening ?´ (chuckles)…´What´d you see in there ?´ – nothing, nothing, she was comped out (?), so we figured we was gonna be in some trouble, we were gonna beat it out of the joint, for like mugging the gypsy lady or something….and like I don´t know what for but for something so, so anyway I said ´Wait a minute´, these guys are pulling me out now, they´re pulling me to run out, I´m going ´Wait a minute, wait,I paid my 50 cents, I wanna see what´s happening tomorrow´, right, so (?)…and I looked in to see what upset her so much, you know, I figured am I gonna die, am I gonna, you know, be hit by a train or what´s gonna happen, I don´t know, so I looked in…(somebody: ´What you see ?´) what did I see ? (?) I seen (?) I seen this nasty weather (?) this rainy (?) and down in the end of the alley, I seen something coming and it didn´t have no sax on so I knew it wasn´t you….she got so upset because….Kitty´s back !…..”

15.08.75 New York City, NY, (late show), middle of ´Twist and Shout´
´´I don´t think I can go on, Clarence. It´s the cholesterol on my heart. My doctor told me if I sang this song once more, he wouldn´t be responsible. But I gotta do it, Clarence, I gotta.´´

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14.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ‘The E Street Shuffle’
´´Dancing with the lights down…..lower than that…..lower than….lower than that…. (?)…. wait a minute, wait a minute, gimme a break with that, let me see….. (?)…this guy (?)…. you do that there, bam…..this girl (?)…..Walter, what’s he gonna say, big bucks…..yeah (?) big bucks here…..Clarence…..you can see better (?)(chuckles)…..it’s nights like this…..bring in the bass…..it’s nights like this….yeah…..play a little bit, Steve…..bam !…..(?) gonna talk to you tonight….. it was a nice like this, very similar to this, the same month, it was August…..it was about three years ago or four (?)…..I was walking down a street in Asbury Park…..(?) …. on the other end of the street (?)…..”

14.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ‘Night’
´´This is something that’ll be on the new album, should be out pretty soon…..called ´The Night’….´´

14.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ‘Thunder Road’
”Yeah, yeah…..do you come here every night ?…..’cause some guy yells that all night every night…..(someone : ”Bruce, you played it at Max’s, you can do it here !”) ….. Give me a break…..give the Boss a break…..(someone : ”Cousin Brucie!”) Don’t say that….it’s like…..that happens all the time, it’s like your name is Bruce, everybody….. you hear ‘Cousin Brucie, what’s happening ?’ (chuckles)….that happens all the time, don’t do that (laughter)…..this is a song about this guy from California and this girl from ….Indiana…..and how they met in the same place (?)….’

14.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ‘Kitty’s Back’
”I used to live in this house…..down in this place called Freehold, New Jersey (cheers) ….anybody from Freehold here tonight ?….No?….how about Asbury Park ? (cheers)….. yeah ?….you got the Casino shirt on….sounds like….I used to live in this house that was….that was across the street from this field , like…..it was on this regular street but…..but there was just this big field, it was a tomato patch….for a long time, it was across the street, we used to go and have tomato fights…..and like you’d sit there at night and see all the lightning bugs…..(?) go see lightning bugs, good, maybe they don’t (?)(laughter)….really, ever since I moved to the beach, I don’t see any lightning bugs….any of you folks from the country ?….you get lightning bugs out there ?….. you’ll all (?) better tonight (chuckles)…..anyway this field….one night I was sitting on my porch , you know….and and I seen this….Clarence…..Clarence was sitting there with me (laughter)….I was about ten and he was older than me, we were sitting on the porch and….we seen this thing coming down from the clouds, didn’t we ? (laughter)…. we didn’t know what it was (laughter)….it came down from way up there and looked like some…..looked, it was shaped like a hot dog, right, and we thought it was a flying saucer right away…..shaped (giggles)….it was shaped like this hot dog (laughs)…. it was shaped like this hot dog and this thing came down and it landed right on this field right across the street from my house…..and so me and Clarence, we figured we’d better check it out and see what was invading the neighbourhood, you know….. we went across the street and this man came out, right and he had…..he was like….he was purple (laughter)…..this is a true story, this is a true story (laughter)….people laugh at the truth , they (?)….as….he was purple, was he purple ? (?)…..it was like….he had two noses, right, and he lands in Central Jersey…..good thing he didn’t land in North Jersey, he would’ve died on the spot (laughter)…..the industrial growth would’ve been too much for him (laughter)…..he had two noses, he was purple, he had eyes….. eye on his teeth….and he like….the first thing he did, he came out, he was being all cool….. he was walking, you know, like uh…..what’s that guy on Bono ?….Not Bono….what the hell’s his name ?…..no, no….Tobor or (?)….Michael Renny….he was walking like Michael Renny (cheers) …..he was walking like that, he was trying to be cool and stuff……but he got out three steps and those things started (?) and he fell down on the field, right…..so me and Clarence go over and we check the guy out and he´s purple and he’s laying there on the ground…..and we go ‘Spaceman, what’s the matter ?’ (laughter)…..he didn’t say nothing, all he did was he opened his mouth and he said these words, he spoke in these foreign tongues…..yeah…..noises like…..so me and Clarence happen to have a tape recorder with us , we ran, we ran back to the house….. and we put it on backwards and you know what that joker said…..He said ‘Kitty’s Back’..
(…..) Steven, when she comes back, I’m gonna…..ask her ‘Where you been ?’ and …..(?) you hear I got a new car ? I got this new car (?) and….I’m gonna….take her for a ride….because (singing:) Nothing’s too good for my baby…..Nothing’s too good for my girl….Nothing’s too good for my baby, nothing’s too good, do it boys….Nothing’s too good for my baby…..nothing’s too good for my girl….nothing’s too good for my baby….nothing’s too good for my girl….here she comes….here she comes….(talking:) I don’t really recognise her no more…..she dyed her hair….some crazy color…..(?) Stevie, Stevie.…the new man, the new man (?)….the new man…..little transgression on Bosses’ (?)…..that’s bad news…..you can lose your hat (laughter)….lose your hat in this band….you’re nothing…..that’s alright, that’s alright….oh, yeah….anyway….here she comes….”

14.08.75 New York City, NY, middle of ‘Rosalita’
”On the piano, the man with all the answers to all your questions…..Professor Roy Bittan (cheers)….take a bow, Roy…..on the bass guitar….man comes from a long line of talents, his mother was a talent, his father was a talent, his great grandfather was a great, great talent…..he’s a little shy so (?)…..Garry W.Tallent (cheers)….on the drums, representing all you folks from North Jersey….Mighty Max (cheers)….on the organ, Dan Federici (cheers)….we’re gonna do this part for Mickey and all my friends at the Holiday Inn pool…..Clarence Clemons, the duke, on the saxophone (cheers)…..”

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17.08.75 New York City, NY, intro to ´´Kitty’s Back”
‘‘Before I came in tonight, there was, uh, somebody sent me a note, (?) this box (?)…. I opened it up, you know, and …. (?) this long box and I opened it up and in there was this, was this knife, remember that, boys?….see, they saw it, they saw it….there was this knife, it was covered with blood….there was a little letter…..explaining that this was an approximation of….of how my blood would look on that knife….if I wasn’t good tonight ….because….Kitty’s back!”

The Shows were:

  1. 1975-08-13 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (early)
  2. 1975-08-13 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (late)
  3. 1975-08-14 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (early)
  4. 1975-08-14 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (late)
  5. 1975-08-15 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (early)
  6. 1975-08-15 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (late)
  7. 1975-08-16 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (early)
  8. 1975-08-16 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (late)
  9. 1975-08-17 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (early)
  10. 1975-08-17 – BOTTOM LINE, NEW YORK CITY, NY (late)

Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town': 10 Things You Didn't Know

On June 2nd, 1978, Bruce Springsteen released the album Darkness on the Edge of Town his first since 1975’s Born to Run had made him a big draw, it arrived after a lengthy lawsuit with his former manager Mike Appel where he was unable to enter a recording studio.

With three years on the sidelines because of the lawsuit with Appel an eternity at that time for a musician – Springsteen has said that he felt he needed to reintroduce himself. To make another dense record rooted in rock’s past,  In the three years between Born to Run and Darkness, he’d simply learned a lot and during this time he played some of the best live shows of his career. He spent a great deal of time in court, for one thing; he began listening to Hank Williams and old-time, class-conscious country music. He’d seen the films of John Ford and Howard Hawks and John Huston, and read the novels of John Steinbeck and John Dos Passos that Jon Landau had given him. The concerns of the lower-middle class became the concerns about which he began feeling most passionate, and those things are reflected in his writing, and his writing became more compact and direct as a result.

Although the lyrics didn’t directly reference the suit, his bitterness showed in the songwriting. Gone was the cinematic romanticism of his first three albums, replaced by stark portraits of blue-collar American life that would form the basis of Springsteen’s writing for the next decade.

Darkness On The Edge reached No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart, and the tour, where he and the E Street Band made their first ventures into headlining arenas, The tour solidified his reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in rock n’ roll. Many of its tracks, including “Badlands,” “The Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night” as well as the outtake “Because the Night” have still to this day continued to play an important role in his concerts to this day.

But the 10 songs released on Darkness represented a fraction of the music recorded for the album, with 57 song known titles recorded during the sessions, . Is “Darkness on the Edge of Town” Bruce Springsteen’s best album?.

Several other artists wound up benefiting from his surplus; Southside Johnny, Robert Gordon, Greg Kihn and Gary U.S. Bonds all recorded songs from this period that Springsteen felt didn’t jibe with the album’s bleak mood. But while “Prove It All Night” was the only single , two artists enjoyed massive hit smashes with his Darkness castoffs: The Pointer Sisters went all the way to Number Two with their recording of “Fire” – a song Springsteen claimed to have originally written in 1977 for Elvis Presley and Patti Smith scored the biggest hit single of her career with “Because the Night,” which reached  Number Five in the U.K charts.

Smith, who was recording her album Easter with Jimmy Iovine at the same time the latter was working on Darkness, took the unfinished “Because the Night” and added a verse inspired by her long-distance relationship with future husband Fred “Sonic” Smith. “I knew that I wasn’t going to finish the song, because it was a love song, and I really felt like I didn’t know how to write them at the time,” Springsteen recalled in The Promise, explaining his decision to give the song to Smith. “A real love song like ‘Because the Night,’ I was reticent to write; I think I was too cowardly to write at the time. But she was very brave. She had the courage.”

Darkness is the first Springsteen album where he sounds like the Springsteen whose legend was secured around this time. Springsteen finally found a way to match the yearning of youth with a grounded sense of adult experience, and it happened toward the end of a period of broad excess when the genre so badly needed it. The production is a wonder of amalgamation, too: He melded the West Coast’s spacious, very polished style with the power and force of Middle American and punk rock.

By the summer of 1977, the E Street Band – then consisting of guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, pianist Roy Bittan, organist Danny Federici, bassist Garry Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg  had become a road-hardened unit capable of bending almost telepathically to any of Springsteen’s musical whims, so it made perfect sense for Springsteen to record the songs for Darkness live in the studio with his band. Unfortunately, Springsteen’s endless search for the ultimate sound completely counteracted any efficiency that might have otherwise resulted from such an arrangement. Unhappy with the sounds they were getting at New York’s Atlantic Studios, Springsteen moved the recording sessions to the Record Plant, where he, co-producer Jon Landau and engineer Jimmy Iovine spent interminable weeks trying to capture the perfect drum sound.

Every song on the first side has a corresponding track on the second in the same sequence. “Badlands” and “The Promised Land” are about America, “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Factory” are about father-son relationships and so on.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is consistently among my top album from Springsteen’s catalog. I think the excruciating editing process he went through with this album speaks volumes about the focus and quality of the story he was telling at that time. What is the best song on the record?

As the opening song, “Badlands” not only sets the tone for everything that follows, it’s also a hell of an introduction to the album with those massive drums barreling into the picture. Every song on the album, more or less, stems from “Badlands.”

 “Racing in the Street,” because it turns the bombast of what came before completely inside out. If Born to Run was about the desperate desire to be free of your old life, your hometown and every preconceived notion, this album – and, my goodness, this song – was about what happens to those who were left behind. Even the expected early-career “car songs” tend to feature people lost in a cul-de-sac of regret. “Racing in the Street” is my favorite song by anybody. it was the perfect anthem  cruising around town, only realizing later that it had this other meaning. How anyone can comprehend how Springsteen wrote that last verse, given that he hadn’t yet been in a serious relationship. “Racing in the Street” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” The story he tells in the former is so specific and evocative that it really haunts the listener. That’s why it’s not even surprising when the couple from “Racing” ages a decade or two, and reappears, as I see it, in “Darkness.” Springsteen couldn’t get them out of his head any more than I could, and the stunning outro gives the listener time to contemplate their fate. It also remains phenomenal to me that early versions of the song didn’t even include the little girl he drove away.

“Racing in the Street” is a great narrative and a great song. The lyrics speak of desolation, lost chances and the things the desperate do just to live, both in the world and with themselves. Springsteen gives those words life and breath, and puts his voice in the middle of it all; there’s no separating it from either the story or the telling of it. The music is stark and brooding — it’s a keyboard song on a guitar album, and Roy Bittan and Danny Federici refuse to leaven the mood as they might on other songs. Bittan’s piano figure that runs through the song is every bit the match for the lyrics, and then Federici wraps an organ countermelody around the piano. … God, it gives me chills to this day.

The outtakes found on Tracks and The Promise show him writing very different material than what was released on the final album, the best tracks, sound like more chapters to the Darkness story. While the outtakes were informative, in particular for completists, they only confirmed Bruce Springsteen’s brilliance as an editor Darkness on the Edge of Town still sounds perfectly balanced. He was writing all these great songs rooted in ’60s pop and R&B like “Talk to Me,” “Save My Love” and “Ain’t Good Enough for You.” The finished product only reflected one side of him. And I like the idea of Jon Landau whispering in one ear about the art of the rock album and Steven Van Zandt in the other about more hit singles.  It gave me an even greater appreciation for his creative vision. He went through an agonizing period of writing and editing to arrive at the final product that was true to the feelings he wanted to evoke. He writes fantastic songs, and there are quite a few in those outtakes, but they didn’t fit the theme. When you have so many songs, and great ones at that, those are tough decisions to make. Dilute the album’s message or let the songs languish in the vault? But I’ve always felt that one of Springsteen’s gifts to his fans is that he has allowed us to look back at his editing process. I’ve always appreciated a peak at his rewriting, and how he’s not afraid to hold onto a a piece of music or lyric when he doesn’t think he’s done justice to it yet.

I’d read interviews with him in the past talking about how he’d write something like “Fire” or “Rendezvous” or “Bring on the Night” and have to set them aside, because they didn’t fit the tone of the work he was recording. To hear some of those songs on Tracks and The Promise was great, The overarching thing I take away from them (and from the outtakes from The River) was just how mind-blowingly prolific a songwriter he was at the time. Like, two-albums-a-year prolific.

Almost every other song on Darkness sounds epic, both in the lyrics and the music. “Factory” is a quiet, personal ode to his father that scales down the album’s bigger themes. If replaced with “The Promise” which is way closer to what Darkness is all about. Plus, they’re both slower cuts, so it would fit into that missing slot perfectly.

The other songs tend to feel like they were left off for a reason because of differences in production values, because they are clearly unfinished or (quite often, actually) because upbeat tracks like “Save My Love” and “Gotta Get That Feeling” just don’t fit thematically. That said, the brilliantly ambiguous “Breakaway” might just have made the cut.

“The Promise” belongs on there, but you couldn’t find anything better that’s thematically similar to go in its place (“The Brokenhearted,” “City of Night”?). It could have another kinda love song, “Don’t Look Back.”

I do think “The Promise” would have made a great addition. It’s among his most heartbreaking, and fits well with the tone of the record. In addition “Racing in the Street” I’d surely go with the one he chose for Darkness, but the sped up recording on The Promise really hits the spot sometimes.

“Hearts of Stone,” is another great song which Springsteen gave to Southside Johnny, but which also was a standout cut on the Tracks box.

Springsteen 11/19/2007

The last U.S. tour stop of 2007 would prove to be Danny Federici’s final show as a full-time member of the E Street Band. Boston ’07 is a fitting farewell to Phantom Dan and catches Bruce and the band firing on all cylinders at the height of the “Magic” tour. Rich with core album tracks including “Radio Nowhere,” “Gypsy Biker,” “Livin’ In The Future” and “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” Boston also features the tour debuts of “This Hard Land” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” with guest Peter Wolf.

Bruce Springsteen brought the E Street Band to TD Banknorth Garden in Boston for a two-night stand in November of 2007 to end the first leg of a tour in support of Magic.  Springsteen has released an official recording of the concert from November 19th, 2007 which wound up being multi-instrumentalist Dan Federici’s final complete performance with the band.

Federici passed away just fourth months later on April 17th, 2008 due to melanoma. While he would perform with the group for portions of a show in Indianapolis on March 20, 2008; he never played a whole show with The Boss and his famed backing band after that night in Boston. Danny was spotlighted throughout the concert at the TD Banknorth Garden on songs such as “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Sandy” and “Kitty’s Back.”

“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” was a tour debut as was “This Hard Land.” Peter Wolf joined the ensemble to add backing vocals to “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” Springsteen and his band put an emphasis on material from Magic, which was their new album at the time. In total, eight songs from the LP made the 24-song setlist. to purchase the official recording of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s November 19th, 2007 performance in a variety of formats.

  • Bruce Springsteen – Lead vocal, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica; Roy Bittan – Piano, keyboards, accordion; Clarence Clemons – Tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, backing vocal; Danny Federici – Organ, keyboards, accordion; Nils Lofgren – Electric and acoustic guitars, pedal steel, backing vocal; Patti Scialfa – Electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocal; Garry Tallent – Bass; Stevie Van Zandt – Electric guitars, mandolin, backing vocal; Max Weinberg – Drums; Soozie Tyrell – Violin, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocal
  • Additional musician: Peter Wolf – backing vocal on Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out 

Image result for bruce springsteen berkeley 1973 images

On March 2nd, 1973, a young, scraggly, a no-name punk from New Jersey landed in Berkeley, California., just weeks after the release of his first studio album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”, to record a performance for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show. A certain Bruce Springsteen opened the show that night for Blood Sweat and Tears, ravaging his way through a seven-song set, each tune picking at the essential storytelling-songwriting so heavily influenced by Dylan in those early years.

This performance showcases an early iteration of the E Street Band, with bassist Garry Tallent, keyboardist and accordionist Danny Federici, and Springsteen’s essential partner, saxophonist Clarence Clemons. (The world wouldn’t see the full classic lineup, including guitarist Steve Van Zandt, until 1975.) But it’s the Boss himself who steals the night with an unrelenting energy and obvious wealth of ambition. Some tracks, like “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” and “Bishop Danced,” are folkier and more story-driven. (The latter, with its fluttering accordion, has been rarely performed and never appeared on a true studio recording). Others, like “Lost in the Flood,” “Spirit in the Night” and “Blinded By the Light,” have remained constant in Springsteen’s 40-year touring career. He also offers a fun, fast-tempo “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?”—cheekily chiming in, “A song about New York City, 82nd Street bus,” after a near two-minute intro. Springsteen completes the set with “Thundercrack,” an 11-minute epic that allows each member of the band to jam, with some provocative guitar work about halfway through.

You can tell the young Springsteen is having a great time as he performs—something that has never changed. This is quite possibly the very first professional live recording of The Boss to surface, recorded 45 years ago on this date.

The Band

Bruce Springsteen: guitar vocals Clarence Clemons: saxophone Danny Federici: organ Vini Lopez: drums Garry Tallent: bass

What makes this show particularly interesting and historical is that a few weeks earlier, Springsteen had actually been part of the very first King Biscuit Flower Hour, which was broadcast over three decades ago (February 18th, 1973). On that broadcast, Bruce only performed two songs and had to share the bill with Blood, Sweat & Tears and jazz-fusion pioneers, the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

 

Tracing Bruce Springsteen’s career arc from cult artist to superstar, theater to arena headliner, there’s a case to be made that a series of radio broadcasts on the 1978 Darkness On the Edge of Town tour played a significant role. The five home-recorded, fan-traded and oft-bootlegged concerts from The Roxy, The Agora, The Capitol Theater, The Fox Theatre and Winterland captured and ultimately spread the magic of Bruce and the E Street Band’s live show, and seemingly converted thousands to fill arenas two years later on the River tour.

Despite that rich history, there were no live broadcasts from the River tour, the Born in the U.S.A. tour or the U.S. leg of the Tunnel of Love tour. Which is why in 1988, after ten years of radio silence, the announcement that a portion of Springsteen’s July 3rd show in Stockholm would be broadcast live via satellite to the U.S. and the world was huge news for fans.

Like many among us, I tuned in that Fourth of July weekend and heard a potent 90-minute first set that wrapped with Bruce announcing plans to join the Amnesty International tour before wrapping the broadcast portion with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Chimes Of Freedom” (later released on the EP of the same name). It was the first of hundreds of listens to follow.

Conveniently apportioned to fill a 90-minute cassette tape, the Stockholm broadcast joined the five ‘78 b-casts as the most played live Springsteen recordings most of us had. There was just one problem: as great as those 14 songs were, 20 other songs were played in Stockholm after the satellite feed came down, and short of a crummy audience tape, few of us have had a chance to hear the full show, until now.

Happily, this complete, multi-track recording validates what we all presumed: the Stockholm show was one of the best on the Tunnel tour, offering a passionate, hyper-focused first-set and–freed from the pressure of a global listening audience–a rollicking, playful second set and encore. Looking for a sign of Springsteen’s mood after the transmission ended? How about the inclusion of Gary U.S. Bonds’ ultimate party track “Quarter to Three” for the first time since 1981.

Fondness for the familiar first set is richly deserved. It starts with Bruce inviting the audience in the stadium and at home to come aboard with a wonderful “Tunnel of Love,” now followed by a horn-blasting “Boom Boom’ (with its unabashed sentiment of “I need you right now” replacing “Be True,” performed in this slot for most of the US leg). The brazen John Lee Hooker cover forms a bond of emancipation with what follows, “Adam Raised a Cain,” again propelled by the five-piece Horns of Love. Bruce hadn’t toured with a horn section since ‘77 and their presence is a critical component in the distinct sound and theatrics of ‘88 shows.

Because the broadcast was limited to 90 minutes, the first set showcased key Tunnel tracks, including a majestic “Tougher Than the Rest,” “Spare Parts,” “Brilliant Disguise” and “All That Heaven Will Allow.” Bruce also featured two killer non-album tracks: “Roulette,” unforgivably left off The River, but resuscitated to sound an alarm on the Tunnel tour; and “Seeds,” another take on the plight of working-class Americans and this time they’re pissed.

Perhaps the surprise highlight of the first set is “Born in the U.S.A.” Separated from its namesake tour and attendant misinterpretations, the song’s deep-seated anger is rekindled. Listen to Bruce’s shrieks of angst before Max’s drum crescendo, echoed later his own impassioned guitar solo. The story has grown more personal, too, as Springsteen adds new flashback lyrics after the final verse: “I just want your arms around me/I see the fire from the sky/I need your arms around me.” A stunning performance.

Set two is a totally different animal, but no less satisfying. I have often wondered how a seemingly long-forgotten song returns to the set, and there is no better example of this than the sudden reappearance of the instrumental “Paradise By the ‘C’” which opens the second set, after premiering four nights earlier in Rotterdam. What prompted its resurrection, after going unplayed since the Darkness tour? Sure, it suits the horns, but then again, there was no horn section in ‘78.

Regardless, it is a welcome showcase for Clarence and the Horns of Love, and sets the tone for a highly entertaining second set that milks the expanded band lineup and staging dynamics for all they are worth on songs like “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” (which begins with a long, bit of musical teasing and showmanship often referred to as “Don’t You Touch That Thing”), “I’m A Coward” (Springsteen’s comic rewrite of Gino Washington’s ‘60s original) and a chock full o’ horns encore sequence of “Sweet Soul Music,” “Raise Your Hand,” the aforementioned “Quarter to Three,” and the inevitable last song for a show this joyous, “Twist and Shout.”

There are a few serious moments in the back half, among them the fine ‘88 arrangement of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” into “She’s the One,” the first “Downbound Train” of the tour, and an unflinchingly earnest reading of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Interestingly, Stockholm ‘88 has a connection to Springsteen on Broadway in that the solo acoustic version of “Born to Run” that Bruce is currently performing was first played in that arrangement on the Tunnel Of Love tour, a fine take of which is captured here.

Stockholm ‘88 has always been a fan-favorite because of the simulcast. Now restored to full length and remixed from the master tapes, it rightly joins Springsteen’s other legendary radio broadcasts as one of the best concert recordings of his career and a great representation of the Tunnel of Love tour’s European edition.

thanks E Flanagan

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On November 22nd, 2009 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band brought the memorable Working On A Dream Tour to a close at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The show would be the last saxophonist Clarence Clemons would play with the band before his 2011 death. Springsteen has opened the vault to release an official recording of the show via his official website.

The Boss played a number of his classic albums in their entirety over the course of the Working On A Dream Tour. In Buffalo the band treated fans to a complete performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. This led to a pair as bust outs as Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band played “Mary Queen Of Arkansas” for the first time since 2002 and “The Angel” for the first time since 1996. “This was the miracle,” he said during the show. “This was the record that took us from way below zero to … one.” Springsteen dedicated the performance to his former manager Mike Appel, who was in attendance, for making his successful audition with Columbia Records happen. During “Growin’ Up,” Springsteen broke the song down and recalled the night in 1971 when he first performed with Clarence Clemons at the Student Prince in Asbury Park. Then he metaphorically described what happened next, a late-night drive through the woods in a Cadillac followed by a long dream. “And when we woke up,” he concluded, “we were in f—in’ Buffalo, New York.”

Clarence  died on June 18th, 2011 after having suffered a stroke a week earlier.
The concert also fell on guitarist Steve Van Zandt‘s birthday, and Springsteen indulged his friend by breaking out the world premiere of “Restless Nights,” a outtake from the “River” and one of Van Zandt’s favorite Springsteen songs. This was followed by “Happy Birthday” and Working on a Dream’s “Surprise, Surprise.”

Springsteen dug deep to close the tour with a 34-song performance that included holiday gems “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” The former was played for the first time since 2004. Bruce offered the live debut of The River outtake “Restless Night,” purportedly by request of guitarist Steve Van Zandt. The show ended with a lengthy encore that included a guest appearance from Willie Nile on “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher.”

Live.BruceSpringsteen.net has got one more from the archives: the tour-closer from the “Working On A Dream” Tour on November. 22nd, 2009 in Buffalo includes a complete performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ and several rarities. This was Clarence Clemons’ last show with the E Street Band.

Head to Live.Brucespringsteen.net to purchase the archival release in a variety of formats.