Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Rolling Stones – Brussels ’73


In my humble opinion, the best concert ever given by the Rolling Stones, and about the best ever live Rolling Stones bootleg in existence is Brussels, Belgium, October 17, 1973, matinee show.

Released on many, many bootlegs together with excerpts of the September 9, 1973 London, Wembley, show. Surprisingly, most bootlegs – especially the CD releases- feature bad sound, hiss and crackles, and in order to be complete the collector must purchase several titles. The Stones toured Europe during autumn 1973, to promote their new album “Goats Head Soup”.

Starting in Vienna, Austria, September 1st, and ending in Berlin, Germany, October 19, 1973 the Stones played all over Europe, except for France, where Keith was refused a visa by the French authorities due to his drug (ab-)use. The Stones management (well, Jagger and Richards that is…) decided to add an extra concert in Brussels, Belgium on October 17th, specially for the French fans (beautifully filmed and aired by RTL as “the Midnight Express”).

Both Brussels concerts were recorded for radio broadcast, but only the first concert has seen the light of day officially (the second concert that day is available partly in average soundboard quality on “Back To The Graveyard” on Outsider Bird Records).

The King Biscuit Flower Hour has broadcast the Brussels, October 17, 1973 first show, combined with recordings from Wembley, London, September 9th, and Rotterdam, October 14, 1973 several times, in two versions. The first version was broadcast in 1974 and 1975, the second version in 1987 and 1988. The versions not only differ by source of the songs, but also by final mix of the individual songs. i.e. Brown Sugar is remixed for the 1987 broadcast (most probably by Mick Jagger himself), and the remixed Brown Sugar now has an audible sax solo by Bobby Keys.

The first label ever to use the original KBFH reel-to-reel tape has been the Vinyl Gang Production (V.G.P.), with their title Nasty Remixes, later re-released as Nasty Music 20 Bit Remaster. This re-release sounds crisper, but it depends on your own preference if you like it better then the original Nasty Remixes (I do prefer the Nasty Remixes title-I like the warmth and presence over the crispiness of the 20 bit remaster). On this title, the complete broadcast from 1987 can be found, together with the Rotterdam’ Brown Sugar and the Brussels’ Street Fighting Man. The Nasty Remixes/Music title offers absolutely excellent stereo separation, and Charlie’s drums sound especially excellent; the pounding in Tumbling Dice is unbelievable. On this title Keith’s guitar is mixed a bit down, making it possible to hear everything Taylor plays. Listen to Taylor’s rhythm guitar on Dancing with Mr. D – it’s brilliant.

Negative point of this title is the shortened version of Midnight Rambler, which has cuts in two different places, shortening the song by more then 4 minutes.
Nasty Music 20Bit Master Recording – (20 BIT-01) Contains the complete 1974 KBFH broadcast (Brussels’ Gimme Shelter, Happy and Street Fighting Man, Brown Sugar from Rotterdam) Same content and track listing as “Nasty Remixes” but now digitally remastered. Nasty Remixes (Singer’s Original Double Disc SODD-012) was actually a Vinyl Gang Product release. It uses the same cover artwork as the “Nasty Music” LP, but now the remixed Bown Sugar and the Wembley sources of Gimme Shelter and Happy are taken. Since it is taken directly from the KBFH CD it has truly excellent sound

May 19, 2010 Posted by | The Rolling Stones Brussels '73 | , | Leave a comment

Beatles – Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 3


Like its predecessors, the third volume of the bootleg series Ultra Rare Trax features Beatles studio recordings from throughout their career in good sound quality.

An alternate take of “I Saw Her Standing There” (not the same one that was on Ultra Rare Trax, Vol. 1) is from the February 11, 1963, recording session that produced the Please Please Me album. Three other tracks derive from the 1968 sessions for The Beatles [White Album]. In each case, these are complete versions of songs that turned up on legitimate albums. (George Harrison‘s “Not Guilty” didn’t see the light of day until his 1979 solo release George Harrison.)

Usually, they present different musical elements, demonstrating that the Beatles tried various approaches to their arrangements before settling on the final recordings. Thus, “Norwegian Wood [Take 1]” (not the same take that was on Ultra Rare Trax, Vol. 2) has a more prominent sitar part and harmony vocals, while “Across the Universe” has a backwards guitar track. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” sounds like an early run-through by Harrison on acoustic guitar. Tracks like “Ticket to Ride” and its eventual B-side, “Yes It Is,” coming from an era when most songs were recorded all at once, are just alternate takes, not quite as good as the chosen ones. For Beatles fans, the result is fascinating, and the Ultra Rare Trax series helped change the minds of the Beatles’ brain trust, which had insisted for years that there was nothing worthwhile in the vaults.

When the legitimate Anthology series was begun in the mid-’90s, many of these tracks were included, notably the versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Norwegian Wood,” and “Not Guilty.”

May 19, 2010 Posted by | The Beatles Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 3 | , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan – Folksingers Choice (1962)


Cynthia Gooding Radio Show, NY – March 11, 1962

Lonesome Whistle Blues, Fixin’ To Die, Smokestack Lightning, Hard Travelin’, Death Of Emmett Till, Standing On The Highway, Roll On John (Misidentified as “Long John”), Stealin’, Long Time Man Feel Bad, Baby Please Don’t Go, Hard Times In New York

What’s left to say about a throughly classic release such as this? So much has been written about it but it still stands as a classic release of it’s time. Yellow Dog’s second Dylan release ( after Finjan Club ‘62 – YD 010 ) comes a couple of years after the Beatles ‘Unsurpassed Masters’ series launched their start in the CD Bootleg revolution so they’d already gotten a name for themselves for releasing only quality material. this particular tape, as it stands, must have been recent to wider traders circles as no one had previously booted this material on vinyl or CD before & what a blessing it must have come to Dylan fans at the time! taken from a radio broadcast ( or an interview taped for broadcast – this seems to be a moot point as no one actually seems to know if this WAS actually broadcast ) from the New York City area radio station WBAI hosted by Cynthia Gooding, a folk artist herself, in February 1962 ( the date on the cover presumably points to a re – broadcast of the show as when questioned about his debut album mentions that it’s to be released in March – it was in fact released on March 19th 1962 in the U.S. )

The performance itself is wonderful – pure & raw Dylan still calling on the powers of his folk singing heroes such as Woody Gutherie, Leadbelly, Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, et al. the CD starts with a slightly truncated version of a folk song titled “Lonesome Whistle Blues” originally written by Williams / Davies & sung by Hank Williams – on the original tape the first few seconds are someone setting up their recording equipment & a scant few seconds of harp & guitar – it just sounds the same as the rest of the performance so you’re not missing much from this tape – it’s a slow, sad little folk song about regret & losing his girl – quite standard fare for Folk music across the ages one would suspect – sung in a typical Dylan style – a rather young sounding ‘non-singing’ kind of way.

In the middle Bob interjects with a breezy harp solo that fairly makes your ears prickle up in interest. After the song Cynthia introduces Bob, remarks on the fact that bob is using a harp on a necklace / brace, remarks on how young Bob is, on Bobby’s early career as a wannabe rock & roller & then the conversation twists as Bob brings out his own self mythologizing claiming to have come from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. this will be the first of many untruths Bobby will spring out in to the conversation – he knows he’s got Cynthia wrapped around his little finger so he can change his story around as much as his hearts content. Cynthia also points out that Bob has recently played at Gerdies in the town which would pin point that this is a broadcast centered around New York & Bob concurs that he’s also played at the Gaslight & the Cafe Wha? in the city.

Bob also discusses the reasoning as to why he changed from singing Rock & Roll to Folk / Blues & mentions that he himself dosen’t have a large repitouir but does have a short list of songs taped on to the neck of his guitar! next he suggests he plays a blues song – the Bakker White Penned “Fixin’ to Die” a faster tempo’d song than the previous one & one where it gives Bobby a chance to flex his throat muscles by giving a rough slant to his voice, aping the other blues singers around in the city. this track will also appear on Bob’s debut album. in the next conversation segment the turns to the subject of John Lee Hooker being a friend & how Bobby has played with him in the past – this gives Bob a chance to play his version of a Howlin’ Wolf song, really croaking out the words & stretching out the words in the best blues style. for the next track Bob fixes on his harp again, while Cynthia chides him for removing his cap as he fixes on his necklace & then putting back on his cap before tightening his harp up.

“Hard Travel” a traditional song follows – as Bob was not opposed to taking arrangements from other folk singers around the clubs & coffee shops then we might imagine that this is another one that he’s pilfered from his contemporaries. next, Cynthia suggests that he plays a song of his own. Bobby suggests “Death Of Emmett Till” – a song based around the story of one Emmett Till, a black gentlemen who boasted that he had a white girlfriend which lead to a race killing in 1955 that will be synonymous with Bob’s style of picking news stories from the paper & arranging the words around music as well as being the first Protest song that Dylan will write also he points out that he’s actually stolen the melody from one of his friends – Len Chandler – who, when the songs played to him, seems not to remember that he came up with the tune in the first place!

next up another Dylan original “Standing on the Highway”, a rolling & jumping song about the protagonist trying to hitch a lift to try get back to his loved one & finding no success as everyone who passes by seems to regard him with contempt. After the song is over Bobby again whips out another tall story about working as an odd job man with a carnival & about ’skipping a bunch of school’ all of which Cynthia seems to lap up. it’s a wonderful testament to Bobby’s storytelling as he seems to whip it all out without a flicker of laughter to his voice.

Three more Traditional songs follow – “Long John” a simple strum of a song which Dylan claims to have written a couple of verses himself. Next is “Stealin’” Bobby puts on his harp & necklace again to more chidin from Gooding. the song is a faster paced number & rather more reminicent of the style that Dylan will approach on ‘Freewheelin .. ‘ & ‘Another Side of .. ‘. Bob names the song at the end to laughter as it’s the title that he’s been singing during the last bars of the song!

through the next conversation piece then Gooding questions Dylan about his time at the carnival & Dylan claims to have learned to sing at the carnival but he’s learned to play guitar a long time ago. he then rolls off a tale about the ‘freak show’ people that the travelled around with & applaudes the ‘Carnies’ on their street smarts. it’s quite the preamble & Bobby even claims to have written a song called “Won’t You Buy My Postcard” for one of them which he’s since lost. Unsuprisingley he’s unable to remember the tune or the lyrics to his made up song.

“Long Time Man Feel Bad” is the next song. again a sprightley tune about leaving his wife or girlfriend to go to work & not reciving any word from them.

In the next conversation Dylan & Gooding continue their flirting – Gooding ribbing Dylan about his harp wearing & the care about his appearence & Bob joshes that he has been seen wearing a stetson hat but prefers the bakers hat that he’s wearing as it’s been around longer.

Dylan then covers another blues song ” Baby, Please Don’t Go” written by Big J. Williams – a creator of the Delta Blues – it’s a rather serious rendition with deep & ominous chords ringing from Bobby’s guitar. it’s certainly a song that would have been included on Dylan’s second album especially as he recorded at least 3 takes of the song on April 25th 1962 at Columbia studios but some some reason it was dismissed.

Dylan ends his set with one last original “Hard Times In New York City”. a song described as being about New York “but this is a song from one persons angle”. allegedly written around the time that Bob got his Columbia recording contract but first recorded in Bonnie Beechers apartment in December 1961. Again, a personal write up of life in New York – how Dylan might see the capitol & the first of many of the town where he lived.

the artwork is rather basic early Yellow Dog – a single jewel case with a simple slip featuring a black & white scrambled background highlighted with a pink “Folksingers Choice” in comic sans & a period studio picture of Bob with a plain grey back cover with the track listing copied out clearly in comic sans again. the cover folds out to reveal a catalogue of Yellow Dog releases up to the release of this one – from YD 001 to YD 022.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Bob Dylan Folksingers Choice | , | Leave a comment

Beatles bootleg – Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 1 (1962-1963)


1. Besame Mucho 2. How Do You Do It? [ Take 1 ] 3. There’s A Place [ Take 5 & 6 ] 4. I Saw Her Standing There [ Take 6, 7, 8, & 9 ] 5. Do You Want To Know A Secret? [ Take 8, Track 2 ] 6. A Taste Of Honey [ Take 6, Track 2 ] 7. There’s A Place [ Take 12, Track 2 & Take 13, Track 2 ] 8. I Saw Her Standing There [ Take 11, Track 2 & Take 12, Track 2 ] 9. Misery [ Takes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ] 10. From Me To You [ Takes 1 & 2 ] 11. [ Take 8 ; Take 9 – 13 ( Edit Pieces )] 12. Thank You Girl [ Takes 2, 3 & 4 ] 13. Take 7 – 13 ( Edit Pieces )] 14. One After 909 [ Take 1 & 2 ] 15. Hold Me Tight ( Remake ) [ Take 22, 23 & 24 ] 16. Don’t Bother Me ( Remake ) [ Takes 11, 12 & 13 ]

First appearing in 1990, Yellow Dog’s CD series “Unsurpassed Masters” was manna for Beatles collectors old, new & future. Near master tape quality & sounding much, much better than the Parlophone / Capitol official CDs on the market & one of the best places to hear ( at the time ) officially unreleased tracks for the Beatles cannon. Allegedly correlated from tapes once owned by British DJ Roger Scott from EMI tape archivist Roger Barrett & firstly partly bootlegged by Swingin’ Pig Records from Germany, Yellow Dog, another European label & one that had been producing high quality vinyl Beatlegs for a number of years, managed to serve up a glut of tapes & joined the CD revolution. Where as many earlier Beatlegs were BBC sessions marketed as the same or, shorn of their chatter & interviews, released as “Unreleased Studio Sessions” these were the real things. The initial issue of his CD was fraught with problems – released in the U.S. on two different labels ( possibly to deflect customs from picking up on a lead on one particular label ) as Yellow Dog on the East Coast & Sphinx in the West, the CDs were mastered with one channel wiped out so while the tracks could be heard through both speakers then, for instance, the vocal track may have been eliminated but the musical track would be heard intact but in mono making these expensive karaoke disks at best ( a theme Yellow Dog would later come back to on their Beatles & Rolling Stones “Karaoke” CD which may have been one of their worst ideas but when dealing with a Beatles market money is king & anything should have been tried once .. ) this was later rectified & the CDs were re – issued in full, dynamic stereo again in their pseudonyms over each coast. A collection of various studio takes comprising edit pieces, different tracks & remakes from the original versions.

While once it may have been the top of it’s field then many more upgrades have come along & surpassed this ‘Unsurpassed Master’ but i intend this review to be a track by track analysis of this classic bootleg & one that paved the way for the bulk of the better Beatlegs that can be found today.

1. Besame Mucho – From The Beatles first E.M.I. session on Wednesday 6th June, 1962 “Besame Mucho”, an English translation of the Spanish song by Consuelo Velázquez & a cover of the Coasters original translation, buzzes with the excitement of a band aiming to please but is also a little more tempered than the version that they’d cut on the 1st of January at their Decca audition. This version is not the version that would eventually be released on the ‘Anthology’ release.

2. How Do You Do It? – Originally given to the Beatles by George Martin as he didn’t hear a hit single in their repertoire but after being rejected by the band was given to fellow Liverpudlian band Gerry & The Pacemakers. Recorded in the same session as “Love Me Do” the bands first hit single. It’s quite a faithful reproduction as the acetate that the writer Mitch Murry brought to George Martins office one presumes as the Pacemakers version is very similar to this version too. It has a very pedestrian feel as the Beatles were obviously not putting their weight behind it ( Indeed the Fabs wanted nothing to do with it preferring to record their own material ). It’s interesting to note that this version also runs a little too slow which would become a trade make of a lot of Yellow Dogs releases & for which thy would be unfairly pilloried.

3. There’s A Place – The first track from the “Please, Please Me” sessions. During this 585 minute session the Beatles would sharpen their studio skills by running through 14 songs for the “Please, Please Me” album. 7 of which are reproduced on these next few tracks. from the morning session, the tape picks up with engineer Norman Smith’s announcement of “Take 5″, a brief pass at the “Please, Please Me”melody, a cough & a brief clip of harmonizing by John. The first take breaks down after a few seconds as Paul isn’t ready & unhappy with the intro but Take 6 is presented in it’s entirety. This is a good warm up & solidly performed with out harmonica. The harmonies are as tight as the final take & the take fades down as it will on the album.

4. I Saw Her Standing There – Takes 6, 7, 8 & 9 : This track begins with a bit of studio noodling & Paul running through the lyrics. George plays a blues lick before Paul shushes him & the Beatles launch in to a busy & bustled “Seventeen” ( As was it’s working title at the time. ) There’s a little confusion over the lyrics at 1:03 when John wants to sing “She” & Paul Sings “I” & then the take breaks down at 1:10 with a whistle while Paul complains that the band are playing too fast George Mrtin takes paul to task mentioning that he got the words wrong but Paul is steadfast in his compliant that the track is too fast regardless. Take 7 breaks down after a few seconds for the same reasons with Paul requesting that they start again. Take 8 begins with a quiet count in & a slightly steadier paced song but still folds after a couple of seconds as George stops playing while John questions what went wrong. Take 9 starts with a more familiar shouted count in. The take continues in a perfunctory manner with Paul, sensing a good take at last, getting his Little Richard whooping out of his system during George’s guitar break.

5. Do You Want To know A Secret? – George’s contribution to the album but written by Lennon / McCartney. A lyrically slight song but it was George’s first go at singing on record & he was against the formidable might of the 2 greatest voices in British pop at that time. The take here is the same as the C.V.

6. A Taste of Honey. Beginning with the announcement “A Taste of Honey, Track 2, Take 6″. Again, not too dissimilar from the CV although Paul struggled to match up his vocal at the end leading to another pass to make it perfect.

7. There’s A Place. take 12 – Track 2 & Take 13 – Track 2. Take 12 is a break down because of the harmonica not being balanced correctly within the mix with take 13 being the full take & the best for the album.

8. I Saw Her Standing There. Starts with Paul excitedly whispering “Echoed claps!” & Norman’s announcement “Seventeen. Track 2, Take 11″. This track is an attempt at laying down the handclap rhythm to the song but take 11 breaks down when the rhythm starts to go awry which, in turn, leads to much giddying around & merry making around in the excitement of recording before the tape ramps up for another take. “Take 12″ is announced & the boys are still having a bit of a giggle, clapping applause, tooting out mock trumpet sounds with their lips & taping tambourines before John starts shushing them down when he realises they’re being recorded. Take 12 is the finished article & would be added to the count in of take 10 on the album.

9. Misery ( Takes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ) – Beginning with the announcement for take 2, Paul, as usual, is still chatting about the finer details of the recordings & George strums a half remembered line before the take starts. A whistle stops the take while George Martin wonders if George Harrison has changed guitars while Harrison disagrees & mentions that he’s probably just changed the tone. Mr. Marti asks him to change it back & also turn down the volume. The Beatles warm up to the next track with a little tuning & Harrison has a little idea for a rhythm that the Fab’s had tried earlier but neither Jhn or Paul sound too enthusiastic on the idea. Take 3 is very brief too with Paul caught off guard with his harmonizing as John fumbles his chords. Take 4 takes John a little by surprise & asks if they should start but a little further in to the track then “These damn words”, as John puts it, trip them up. Take 5 gets a little further again but this time Paul mucks up his bass line. Take 6 is preceded by John going over the lyrics & a slight false start. The harmonies seem to differ a slight bit with John & Paul dodging behind each other cautiously. George & Ringo both add extra additions to their parts but obviously they were though of as too fiddly as both parts are gone by the following take.

10. From Me To You – Sessions for the single “From Me To You” were recorded on Tuesday 5th March, 1963. Straight in to another session and take one of the second single. The all familiar take announcement, John’s cough ( he’s still got a cold ) & his prompting force Paul in to starting the take. It’s certainly a perfunctory take but breaks down around a minute in as Paul believes he heard the whistle to stop the take. No one else heard it though & so take 2 is announced before Paul is day dreaming. He quickly gets his act together & after more coughing by John, Norman calls for the take to be started from the beginning again & the boys bring it on home again. Ringo forgets his big finish & Paul jokingly points this out.

11. From Me To You ( Take 8 ; Take 9 – 13 – Edit pieces ). A different session altogether. The track starts with the announcement. John imploring Paul to start, a tape slip of the harmonies then the tape seems to slip back to John’s “Go on” before Paul counts in the track proper. The take is balanced with the musical track & echo louder in the right channel & the vocals a little lower in the left. After this take we’re presented with a series of edit pieces for the coda. The first begins with a short count in, an extended beginning & a choppier guitar than the CV before stopping abruptly. Edit piece take 2 is for the coda & again ends abruptly with John asking afterwards “Was i meant to be playing then?”. take 10 ramps up, plays a few seconds & stops. take 11 begins with the Fabs rehearsing their harmony hums, a little prompting by John & then the band recording those hums for adding at a later time. Take 12 is nothing that hasn’t been added to the mix before & take 13 begins with a short amount of studio chatter & then finds a rather maniacal “Da, da, da” harmony being chopped out that was, mercifully, never used.

12. Thank You Girl ( Takes 2, 3 & 4 ) – Take 2 is preceded by a stray bass note, a smatter of studio chat, a quiet count in & then the band start only to stop a second later when paul realises that has missed the beat. Take 3 is stopped by the same omission & track 4 runs through for it’s entirety but it is just a run through with various mistakes being made within the last quarter. The group obviously thought they had the makings of a master take but the mistakes had to be covered up so ..

13. Thank You Girl – ( Take 7 – 13 – Edit Pieces ) – the track starts with George Martin announcing the take & John reminding Paul that he strums a certain part 3 times before switching. Paul obviously forgets & the take breaks down almost immediately. The next take is perfect & hits the nail on the head first time. Take 9 is for the songs end but Ringo gets his first drum fill wrong & so the band take again .. after Ringo goes out of sync with everyone else the next time then there’s another 3 attempts at getting it right which he does by take 13. Everyones happy & they decide to move on to the next track.

14. One After 909 – ( Takes 1 & 2 ) – The tape here starts off a little rough. Beginning with George Martins announcement & some studio chatter. a brief riff is played then John asks if the band are OK to record, getting the green light the band almost stumble in to it all. The track is rather bass heavy & rougher than it would be in it’s 1969 reincarnation. Take 1 lasts up until the second chorus when Ringo plays through what the band consider a break. John is obviously getting a little excited, tired & a little snappy as he lambasts Ringo for messing it up but Ringo points to Paul & blames him too. Paul’s not been forthright with his instructions though & didn’t tell Ringo exactly which drum to use .. Take 2 is a complete take but George is obviously winging it when it comes to his solo much to John chagrin & he berates George at the end of the take. All in all, not a bad take but it would take another 3 takes & a few edits before the Fabs realised that it just wasn’t good enough for the album.

15. Hold me Tight – [ Remake ] – ( Takes 22, 23 & 24 ) – Skipping forward to the next albums sessions ( “With The Beatles” ) the band spent a small part of the morning recording Christmas messages for Australian radio & use the rest of the afternoon’s session running through 29 takes of the one particular track. A McCartney ditty which we catch up with a little later on in the session & tempers are fraying once again as mistakes are still being made. The track here starts with a truncated announcement, a brief cough & straight in to the track which breaks down as John & George are a little late with their vocals. Paul tries to talk the band in to remembering before the tape stops by asking a rhetorical “So, what are you going to do?”. It’s Paul’s turn to slip up on track 23 by fluffing his opening line & trying to make light of the situation by mentioning that he always makes that mistake. Mr. Martins’ getting frustrated now as he shouts “24!” at the band to which the band prepare a good enough base for the released take ( baring a few overdubs & claps. )

16. Don’t Bother Me [ Remake ] – ( Takes 11,12 & 13 ) The rest of the day’s session is taken up by another ‘Harrisong’ from the second album. From 15 takes only 5 are bootlegged & 3 appear here. the tape starts with a clipped announcement, a quick run through the riff before George shouts that he’s ready but the take quickly folds as Harrison complains that it’s going too fast & he can’t keep up. Take 12 lasts a little longer before George loses his way & stumbles over his own lyrics. Take 13 is chosen as best take before the eventual overdubs although George is audibly a little weary of rushing through the track & this can be heard just under the intro.

Although this tape duplicated a few tracks from “Ultra Rare Trax” & would be deemed unnecessary in future as more of these session tapes appeared & were upgraded then this CD can’t be ignored for the fact that it was one of the first to offer tracks in this quality for collectors & would also help Yellow Dog’s name become a formidable force within collectors circles. As a historic piece it stands as one of a select few. The cover art is quite simple featuring it’s title & the artist in a black border with a shot by famed Beatle photographer Dezo Hoffman of the Fabs at the beach dressed in swim wear with the back cover a stark white background with clean black lettering. The Yellow Dog font was designed with the Beatle collector in mind with it’s font closely resembling the font of the “Yellow Submarine” film.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | The Beatles Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 1 | , | Leave a comment

Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie (1997)


According to Paul McCartney, working on the Beatles Anthology project inspired him to record an album that was stripped-back, immediate, and fun, one less studied and produced than most of his recent work. In many ways, Flaming Pie fulfills those goals.

A largely acoustic collection of simple songs, Flaming Pie is direct and unassuming, and at its best, it recalls the homely charm of McCartney and Ram. McCartney still has a tendency to wallow in trite sentiment, and his more ambitious numbers, like the string-drenched epic “Beautiful Night” or the silly Beatlesque psychedelia of “Flaming Pie,” fall a little flat. But when he works on a small scale, as on the waltzing “The Song We Were Singing,” “Calico Skies,” “Great Day,” and “Little Willow,” he’s gently affecting, and the moderately rocking pop of “The World Tonight” and “Young Boy” is more ingratiating than the pair of aimless bluesy jams with Steve Miller.

Even with the filler, which should be expected on any McCartney album, Flaming Pie is one of his most successful latter-day efforts, mainly because McCartney is at his best when he doesn’t try so hard and lets his effortless melodic gifts rise to the surface.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Paul McCartney Flaming Pie | | Leave a comment

Bruce Springsteen – Teardrops On The City (Stockholm May 1981)


Ice Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden – 8 May,1981

Disc 1: Run Through The Jungle, Prove It All Night, The Ties That Bind, 10th Avenue Freeze-Out, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Independence Day, Factory, Who’ll Stop The Rain, Two Hearts, Out In The Street, The Price You Pay, This Land Is Your Land, The River, The Promised Land, Badlands

Disc Two: Cadillac Ranch, Sherry Darling, Hungry Heart, Because The Night, You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), Wreck On The Highway, Point Blank, Backstreets, Candy’s Room, Ramrod, Rosalita

Disc 3: Born To Run, Detroit Medley/High School Confidential, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Rockin’ All Over The World

Bonus Tracks: Festhalle, Frankfurt, West Germany – 14 April, 1981: The Promised Land, The River, Thunder Road, Fire, Racing In The Street, Born To Run, Detroit Medley/Shake, Rockin’ All Over The World

In October 1980 Springsteen released his fifth abum, The River, and began a lengthy tour which took him to Europe for the first time since the four shows in London, Stockholm and Amsterdam in November 1975. The two concerts in Stockholm on 7th and 8th May 1981 were the last on the European mainland, Springsteen then playing the delayed UK dates and thereafter returning to the USA to complete the tour. Springsteen had acquired a relatively substantial fan-base in Scandinavia, perhaps partly due to the Stockholm show of 1975, and Patrick Humphries, in the narrative section of Bruce Springsteen: Blinded By The Light, published in 1985, contends that, “the European and Scandinavian concerts impressed even his critics with their commitment and their length.” The Johanneshovs Isstadion show of 8th May was particularly remarkable, the Brucebase website stating that, “this show is considered by many to be the best of all the European shows.” Ed, in a review on the website The Promise, concurs, arguing that, “the two shows in Stockholm are considered by many to be the best of the European (if not the entire) tour,” and he also refers to the 8th May concert as a “terrific show.” An anonymous reader comment adds that, “in my opinion this is THE best show of the River tour.”

Both of the Stockholm concerts appeared as 3-LP sets, Follow That Dream (7 May) and Teardrops On The City (8 May). Teardrops (no label) was a spectacular production. Chris Hunt, in the “Bruce Files” section of Blinded By The Light, describes it thus: “Cover: Superb colour gatefold. Sound: Excellent. Remarks: Excellent all round production makes this possibly the best bootleg ever made.” The front and rear covers portrayed Springsteen on stage and the sleeve opened out to show numerous photographs of Springsteen in performance, laid out on a flat surface together with the setlist written on file paper, a ticket stub, a camera and a portable cassette recorder containing a tape. The implication seems to be that the whole production process, from recording and photographing the show, to issuing the LPs, was carried out by the same individuals. Whether or not this is the case, Teardrops On The City was a Swedish release.

The show soon appeared in several further vinyl incarnations, some complete and some partial, but all inferior to Teardrops. Live In Stockholm (no label), which came in a box with a black-and white insert, is described by the Killing Floor Database as “an inferior copy of TEARDROPS ON THE CITY.” The Stockholm Tapes (no label) was a 6-LP set which copied both Follow That Dream and Teardrops. The artwork featured a black-and-white copy of the Teardrops front cover and Killing Floor states that “the sound quality is much reduced from the original LPs,” though Hunt still rates it as “very good.”

As stated above, there were also partial releases of the 8th May show, both with and without songs from the 7th. These were invariably shoddy productions. Eight songs from 8th May appeared on the 3-LP set Bruce Springsteen Live 1981, the majority coming from 7th May. This release was copied from Follow That Dream and Teardrops. If it was intended to showcase the highlights of the two concerts, it failed miserably. No fewer than six songs (Prove It All Night, 10th Avenue Freeze-Out, Backstreets, Candy’s Room, Ramrod and Rosalita) appear twice, in versions from both nights. Moreover, the performances of Candy’s Room and Ramrod from the 7th are duplicated, constituting the closing tracks on side 4 and the opening tracks on side 5!

Single-disc distillations of these shows were even shoddier. Truth O’ Trash (International Ltd) claimed merely to have been recorded “live in the 80’s.” Brucebase maintains that it contains songs from the 8th May, being a ”copy of sides 11/12 of The Stockholm Tapes – without Twist and Shout.” (The website neglects to mention that Can’t Help Falling In Love is also not included.) Hunt and the Killing Floor Database, however, both contend that this disc reproduces sides 5 and 6, and therefore contains performances from the 7th May. As Truth O’ Trash reproduces exactly the track listing of sides 5 and 6 of The Stockholm Tapes (and therefore also of Follow That Dream), the latter argument would seem to prevail. (Incidentally, International Ltd also copied sides 1 and 2 of The Stockholm Tapes, containing the opening songs from the 7th as Dead Trousers.)

Surplus copies of The Stockholm Tapes were recycled as the single LP The Gov’ner Strikes Back. The cover failed to mention Springsteen though collectors were presumably supposed to recognize the well-known cartoon reproduced from the cover of the noted early bootleg release The Jersey Devil (and gov’ner is, of course, a synonym for boss). As Brucebase points out, each sleeve “contains one of the LP’s from The Stockholm Tapes. You have no idea which one you will get – Matrix numbers struck out.” Bearing in mind that the discs had blank labels and the cover merely stated “live in your town,” it seems unlikely that prospective purchasers were even aware that the records had previously formed part of that set. The sleeve also claimed that “the first ten copies come with the extra bonus 12″, Kraftwerk: ‘Geisterfahrer,’” which must surely qualify as the most bizarre bonus disc in bootlegging history.

The CD history of this show is far less convoluted. Teardrops On The City (no label), which appeared in the eary 1990s, reproduced the packaging of the original LP. The front jewel case insert featured the same stage shot found on the LP cover and a single sheet foldover insert mimicked the design of the gatefold sleeve. The only other silver CD issue to feature a substantial amount of material from the 8th May show is Follow That Dream (Golden Stars). This release of the 7th May concert utilized the additional playing time of the CD medium to add nine bonus tracks from the 8th. The new Godfather set has brought the complete show back into circulation on silver discs for the first time in many years, although the Piggham label produced a CD-R version, Teardrops On The City Revisited.

The show begins, according Dave Marsh in Glory Days, with ”the wildest…new song rendition…a scarifying slowed down Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Run Through The Jungle’ with at least one original verse.” This intense performance is unfortunately imcomplete, the taper missing the beginning, so that we ony get two-and-a-half minutes of the song. This is followed by Prove It All Night. Shorn of the long piano and guitar introduction that had been so effective in 1978, the song more closely resembles, both in sound and performance, the official version from Darkness On The Edge Of Town. However, there is a longer coda with a short organ solo and a more extensive guitar part. The next number is The Ties That Bind which features, in Humphries’ words, “glorious Searchers-infuenced opening chords.” One of the songs from The River that had appeared in concerts during the 1978 tour, it is again given a reading close to the album version. An exuberant rendition of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, featuring a rather different sax solo from Clarence Clemons, is succeeded by a stark and powerful Darkness On The edge Of Town, which is marred by the fade-out that prevents the song reaching its conclusion.

Independence Day, one of the outstanding tracks from The River, was also premiered during the 1978 tour. Humphries refers to the song as “a white flag flying over the no man’s land that exists between parents and their errant children.” Springsteen prefaces the song with an account of his problematic relationship with his father. The first few notes of the understated instrumental backing are missing, though all the words are intact. With a focus on the mutual inability of parent and teenager to understand each other’s viewpoints, Springsteen points out that he needed to make peace with his father on order to make peace with himself. “It took us thirty years,” he points out, “just to be able to tell each other that we loved each other.” It is a moving preamble to an equally poignant rendition of the song. In the spoken introduction, Springsteen also states that, by the time of these confrontations, his father had been a factory worker for over ten years and that he had consequently suffered the humiliations that inevitably attend a life of low-paid menial employment. Appropriately, then, Independence Day is immediately followed by a haunting rendition of Factory, enhanced by Springsteen’s harmonica part.

The sombre mood created by these songs is dissipated by Springsteen’s version of another Creedence Clearwater Revival number, Who’ll Stop The Rain? This was first played at New York’s Madison Square Gardens on 19 December 1980, and thereafter featured in all but three River Tour concerts (those being two of the London shows and the performance in Largo, MD, on 5 August 1981). Things move further up-tempo with Two Hearts and Out In The Street, the latter’s “defiant” mood, according to Humphries, failing to disguise the fact that it “finds Springsteen at his most brash and feeble.” Despite Humphries’ derision, I would argue that this is more effective than most of the other rather vacuous “rockers” from The River, and it works well in a live setting. The Price You Pay, described by Humphries as “an epic song, in both ambition and achievement,” completes a trio of songs from The River. It receives a fine performance that is unfortunately marred by a small cut and some extraneous noises that sound as if the taper was having some problems with his machine.

The show’s third cover version is Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. Springsteen’s interest in Guthrie had been kindled by his reading of Joe Klein’s Woody Guthrie: A Life and the song made its initial appearances at the three Nassau Coliseum shows at the end of December 1980. The song was composed as a riposte to Irving Berlin’s jingoistic God Bless America but ironically, as Dave Marsh points out, Guthrie “went to his grave immensely troubled that the most radical of his lyrics were forgotten as his finest song was adopted by the very jingoists and false patriots the song meant to attack.” Springsteen is well aware of Guthrie’s true intentions. He told the audience in Paris that, “it’s been misinterpreted a lot. It was written as a fighting song.” However, in a further irony, by performing the number in a version that is much slower and less obviously folk-based than the original, he creates, in Marsh’s uncharacteristically critical view, an “interpretation…smack dab in the middle between Woody Guthrie…and Irving Berlin.”

A short and simple, though rather beautiful, piano introduction leads into The River. Along with Independence Day, this is one of the two truly moving songs from the River album and it is one of the songs from the album which deals, as Paul Nelson stated in his Rolling Stone review, with “grim reality.” Humphries points out that the song was based on conversations Springsteen had with with his brother-in law. His sister married early in life and the couple suffered hard times when her husband, a construction worker, lost his job. Awareness of the circumstances which inspired the song makes this poignant rendition even more affecting. The River is followed by stirring renditions of The Promised Land and Badlands, which bring both the first set and the first disc to a close.

The second set opens with songs intended to get the audience moving and they clearly have the desired effect. Disc 2 begins with Cadillac Ranch, a number described by Humphries as “throw-away,” but which (as is the case with Out In The Street) is effective in live performance. The party atmosphere is then enhanced by an exuberent Sherry Darling and a crowd-pleasing rendition of Hungry Heart. Springsteen stated that the song was an evocation of the effects the Beach Boys and Frankie Lymon had on him. Christopher Sandford, in Springsteen: Point Blank, calls the song “audaciously commercial, singalong pop,” and the ecstatic audience gleefully sing the first verse, a ritual dating from the show in Chicago a week into the tour. A hectic version of Because The Night follows without the longer guitar introduction that was a feature of the song in 1978, though there is a fairly lengthy solo later in the song and this is succeeded by a furiously-paced rendition of the slight You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch).

After all this activity the pace slows and the volume abates for the reflective Wreck On The Highway. A song which Humphries refers to as “stripped down to the bone musically and lyrically,” it provides a haunting conclusion to the River album and it is equally atmospheric here. The serious mood continues with Point Blank which, along with The Ties That Bind, Sherry Daring and Independence Day, had been performed during the 1978 tour before apearing on The River. Described by Humphries as “chilling” and “bitterly resigned” the song lost its overt but not overstated drug abuse theme to concentrate on, as Springsteen tells the audience, “two people that once had [a] connection but got broken apart.” The change of emphasis came late, as Marsh points out when he states that it was “the last song completed for the new album – Bruce added he central monologue only in the final days of recording.” Marsh goes on to say that “in Stockholm he nearly rewrote it again,” adding some extra lyrics in an impassioned vocal performance.

Some wordless vocalising by Springsteen then introduces Backstreets, impressive here as it invariably is in concert, and this is followed by the searing guitar work of Candy’s Room. A driven version of the rather vacuous Ramrod then gives way to the second set’s closer, a barnstorming performance of Rosalita, complete with band introductions.

Disc 3 begins with the encores. A fine performance of Born To Run is missing its beginning, the taper seemingly caught out by the start of the encore as he was with the start of the show. A frenzied performance of the Devil With The Blue Dress Medley, which incorporates Jerry Lee Lewis’ High School Confidential, provides the highlight among the encores. Perhaps surprisingly at such a stage in the show, Springsteen inserts a slow and quiet number in the shape of his “favourite Elvis Presley song” Can’t Help Falling In Love, from the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. Normal service is resumed in the shape of John Fogerty’s Rockin’ All Over The World and Twist And Shout, entirely appropriate show closers which leave the audience ecstatic.

Godfather provides a bonus in the shape of eight songs from the Frankfurt concert of three weeks earlier, of which Thunder Road, Fire, Racing In The Street and Shake (included in the medley) are unrepresented in the Stockholm show. They are all fine performances, with a superb Racing In The Street, featuring Roy Bittan’s gorgeous piano playing, providing the highight.

Although, as stated earlier, Chris Hunt rates the sound quality of the original LP as “excellent,” other commentators have been less impressed. Ed’s review on the website The Promise refers to the first CD incarnation as being “in sound quality that isn’t too bad” and a reader comment adds that “the sound of the recording doesn’t live up to the show itself.” Ed states that the Piggham CD-R is “remastered” and a further reader comment contends that it is “improved sound quality.” All LP and CD reissues of this show derive, directly or indirectly, from the original vinyl release, which presumably limits the extent to which the sound can be improved. The sound is mono, and despite lacking a little depth and sounding rather “flat” at times it is generally quite clear and detailed. The slower, quieter songs fare better and listening to these, one can understand why Hunt felt able to describe the sound as excellent. The sound on the louder and faster songs sometimes gets congested, as on You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch). However, this is not invariable, and some more raucous numbers, such as the medley and Rockin All Over The World, sound remarkably fine. Overall, although the difference is minimal, Godfather’s new release does have a little more presence than the original CD issue. The sound quality of the bonus tracks is slightly less good than that of the main show, though still very listenable.

This release comes in Godfather’s usual impressive packaging. The customary tri-fold sleeve reproduces the front and back covers of the original LP, though the black-and-white photgraphs from the inner side of the gatefold sleeve are nowhere to be found. Instead there are colour onstage photos, some of which show Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Steve Van Zandt and Garry Tallent hamming it up during a show. There is also a booklet with further photographs and notes. This was a notable LP release of an important show and the original CD issue has been unavailable for many years; Godfather deserves the gratitude of collectors for restoring it to circulation.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Bruce Springsteen Teardrops On The City | , | Leave a comment

Bruce Springsteen bootleg – You Can Trust Your Car To The Man Who Wears The Star (1975)


Though it contains only two-thirds of the songs performed at Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s concert at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA, on February 5, 1975 (a benefit for WMMR-FM broadcast live), the double-LP You Can Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star is the definitive concert bootleg for the period between Springsteen’s second and third albums.

“Born to Run,” “Jungleland,” and “She’s the One” were already in the set list, and this show marked the introduction of “Wings for Wheels,” later retitled “Thunder Road.” The showpieces are the major songs from The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle — “Incident On 57th Street,” the title track, performed as a ballad with a long introduction in which Springsteen tells the story of how he met Clarence Clemons and “Kitty’s Back,” though “Spirit in the Night,” “Growin’ Up,” and “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” from Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. are also brought out, and the covers include Harold Dorman’s “Mountain of Love,” Bob Dylan’s “I Want You.”

This was one of the last shows featuring violinist/backup singer Suki Lahav, and she is heard most effectively on “Incident on 57th Street” and “Jungleland.” This was the kind of show that brought Springsteen an impassioned cult following and the critical raves that convinced Columbia Records not to drop him and instead to give him the recording budget he needed to make Born to Run.

Sound quality is exceptional for a bootleg.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Bruce Springsteen You Can Trust Your Car... | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Nassau 1975


Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – February 14th, 1975

Disc 1 (57:57):  Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (53:53):  Kashmir, No Quarter, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (73:00):  Dazed And Confused, Tangerine, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s St. Valentine’s Day show in the Nassau Coliseum was the penultimate show of the first leg of the troubled 1975 tour.  The tape is fair to good and at times is very good.  But nasty distortion at some points, most noticeable during “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” ”No Quarter” and “Stairway To Heaven” are a big distraction.  TDOLZ use the same tape that was used for prior releases such as St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (Off Beat Records LZCD 1) with eight tracks from this show, and St. Tangerine’s Day (Image Quality IQ-040/41/42) released right about the same time as the TDOLZ.  There are several cuts on the tape including at 7:45 in “In My Time Of Dying,” 2:50 in “Kashmir,” two small cuts after “No Quarter” which eliminates some dialogue, a cut at 1:28 in “Moby Dick” cutting out about ten minutes of the drum solo, at 9:23 in “Dazed And Confused” eliminating the transition to the violin bow episode, 6:24 in “Stairway To Heaven,”  and cuts in “Heartbreaker” at 2:52 and 3:01. 

It is a pity the tape is so difficult because this is one of the all time classic Zeppelin concerts.  Perhaps being in New York for the better part of two weeks calmed the band down since they music is inspired and the band are loose.  Plant rambles on in the song introduction and carries on conversations with chatty fans in the front.  After the opening duo of “Rock And Roll” and the still unreleased ”Sick Again,” Plant speaks about the ”last of the pagan traditions that’s carried on into the twentieth century. It’s a day for sowing the wild seeds, in fact, now they call it St. Valentine’s day. So Happy St. Valentine’s day. In fact, I think we should dedicate this whole show to St. Valentine. He’s done us a lot of good, even when he hasn’t got a day. Well, we’re gonna do some things for the benefit of Mr. Kite.”  He compares the set list to “glorious ice cream” as they begin “Over The Hills And Far Away.”

“We came here in a state of ah, Jimmy managed to get to sleep at three o’clock this afternoon, and he was up again at four thirty. So we didn’t really know whether we had the strength to walk on the stage, but we have, and it’s feeling good. We were, we spent a few hours with St. Valentine last night, you see?”  “In My Time Of Dying” is a ”traditional thing traditional thing that you might have heard from, I think Bob Dylan did it about ten years ago, before that ah, Billy Cotton.” 

When they decided on the setlist for the tour, they dropped “Since I’ve Been Loving You” since it was played at every show in the past five years.  It is however their favorite song to play and in keeping with the looseness they play it for the first time since the last tour.  It is a bit ragged but one gets the feeling they could play it in their sleep if they wanted to.  Plant says they intend to shake the building “despite our depleted physical forms” before “The Song Remains The Same.”  Page makes a small mistake, playing the riff which introduces the third verse in the introduction.

As Plant is introducing “No Quarter” Page plays opening notes to “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”  “We’re going through our whole live history here, just flashing on different numbers” Plant quips.  The Houses Of The Holy track is more than twenty minutes long and Jones plays on the organ only.  When they come back for the second half he will be switching to grand piano for the solo.  Page plays an effective, chilling solo in the middle improvisation.  “Dazed And Confused” is referred to as “one of those things that we got together and played, and went, gosh, oooo. We’d like to dedicate it to all the people who’ve been good to us in New York. All you people, we done six gigs here. It’s a lot of gigs, and we’ve seen a lot of people, and we’ve had a lot of good receptions.”  The song reaches extremes in violence and tenderness and includes the syncopated funk section before the call and response section, a part of the song they normally didn’t play on this tour.

The people in the front row keep badgering Plant with requests and beg them for “Tangerine.”  “Who’s doing this show, you or us?  Both of us, right” before singing a couple lines of the song.  “I’ve forgotten the words.”  The final encore “Heartbreaker” is proceeded by a violent sounding, funky tune with lyrics that is hard to discern since the tape is so distorted.  In the solo Page leads the band into an impromptu version of Elvis’ “Mess O’ Blues,” a tune they regularly played in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley in 1971.  Although the tape is good, it really makes on wish that a better sounding recording existed to better enjoy the show.  Nassau 1975 is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve with simple graphics and use of two Earls Court photos.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Nassau 1975 | , | Leave a comment

Bruce Springsteen bootleg – Vintage Broadcast ’75


The Bottom Line, New York, NY, USA – 15 August, 1975 (early show)

Disc 1: Interview Before The Show, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Spirit In The Night, Then She Kissed Me, Growin’ Up, It’s Hard To Be a Saint In The City, Intro To E Street Shuffle, E Street Shuffle, When You Walk In The Room, She’s The One, Born To Run, Thunder Road

Disc 2: Intro To Kitty’s Back, Kitty’s Back, Rosalita, Encore Comments, 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Quarter To Three, Closing Comments

Springsteen was still a local or regional, rather than a national figure in the early months of 1975. As stated in Clinton Heylin’s Bootleg: The Rise And Fall Of The Secret Recording Industry, he “was barely known outside certain fanatical enclaves of New York, the New Jersey Shore, Philadelphia and Cleveland.” By October, this situation had changed dramatically.

Springsteen’s third LP, Born To Run, was released on 25 August, and Greil Marcus’ Rolling Stone review called it “a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed on him.” There was a high profile four-night, six-show stand at the Roxy in Los Angeles during 16-19 October and the hype culminated in Springsteen featuring on the covers of both Time and Newsweek on 27 October.

However, the process of bringing Springsteen to national prominence began with the ten shows performed at New York’s Bottom Line during 13-17 August. The significance of these shows was considerable. As Dave Marsh writes in Rolling Stone, “not since Elton John’s initial Toubadour appearances has an artist leapt so visibly and rapidly from cult fanaticism to mass acceptance as at Bruce Springsteen’s ten Bottom Line shows. This was not pure chance.

As I pointed out in my review of Crystal Cat’s The Roxy Theatre Night, “the single show on the first night was used by Columbia to promote Springsteen’s career by reserving a significant number of seats for music journalists and celebrities, including Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.” John Rockwell, also writing in Rolling Stone, similarly states that, “the ten sold-out Bottom Line shows [were] carefully orchestrated to garner press quotes and industry attention…Columbia bought 1,000 of the 4,000 seats for the Bottom Line dates…to proselytize the press, record dealers and radio personnel.” Heylin also points this out, stating, “shows from New York’s Bottom Line in July 1975 and LA’s Roxy in October were certainly intended to capitalize on the media buzz that Springsteen was creating.”

However, Rockwell also contends that the enthusiasm was genuine, with “block-long lines of people hoping to buy the fifty standing room tickets sold for each show. Every performance saw a good 200 extra bodies crammed into a club that supposedly seats 400 [Marsh states 450]. Springsteen’s entrances were greeted with standing ovations, and by the end of each set the crowd’s mood was one of delirium.” Ross Warner, on the American Heritage website calls the Bottom Line shows “electrifying” and WNEW DJ Dave Herman, who had previously resisted the allure of Springsteen, describes the concert he attended on 30 July as “the most exciting rock ‘n’roll show I’ve ever seen.”

The level of excitement is effectively described by the clubs’ co-owner, Stanley Snadowsky: “The raw power was unbelievable. He climbed on the building’s poles, the piano, the tables. He was so exposed in such a reckless way, everyone felt it.” Springsteen commented that, “the energy of the band forced me out on those tables. Playing a little place like that, and it starts boiling. we were so set up for that kind of playing.” He was extremely pleased with the performances at the Bottom Line. “It went pretty ideally,” he said shortly afterwards, “the band cruised through them shows like the finest machine there was. There’s nothin’ – nothin’ – in the world to get you playing better than a gig like that. The band walked out of the Bottom Line twice as good as when they walked in.”

One other thing acted to raise Springsteen’s profile: the first bootlegs of his performances. As Heylin argues, “this was one instance where bootlegs were helping to establish an artist, rather than riding on the back of his success.” It was the radio broadcast of the early show from 15 August at the Bottom Line which provided the source for what is sometimes stated to be the first Springsteen bootleg, Coral Records’ Live (though this honour is also claimed by the noted early bootlegger Lou Cohan for his Jersey Devil). The Brucebase website has this to say of the genesis of this historic artefact:

“The first (early) show was broadcast live by New York’s influential WNEW-FM – and it was a cannibalized home taping of this show off the radio that appeared on the very first-ever Springsteen vinyl bootleg ‘BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN LIVE’ (Coral Records) in late 1975. However, this late 1975 boot, as well as countless boot permutations of the performance that came afterwards, was heavily edited, with no-in between song chatter/stories and, in some instances with tracks missing.”

The LPs came in a black gatefold sleeve featuring the head-and-shoulders photograph, taken during the Born To Run photo-shoot, of a smiling Springsteen in floppy flat cap on the front cover. Tinted in pastel shades, the design featured a garland surrounding Springsteen, and it also incorporated his guitar with a pair of sneakers dangling from the neck. The design is doubtless well known to Springsteen collectors due to its use on the artwork of several other LP and CD releases. The rear of the sleeve carried an onstage shot of Spingsteen together with the tracklisting, and the sleeve opened out to reveal two further photographs. Chris Hunt, in Springsteen: Blinded By The Light contends that this is, “certainly the rarest of all [vinyl] Bruce bootlegs.”

Copies of the original Coral Records issue included two releases entitled Live At The Bottom Line. One, on Butterfly Records, featured the same front cover picture as the original, again in colour on a black background although it was a single sleeve. This was pressed on red vinyl. The other release, on Black And Gold Records featured the design in black-and-white on a white background. A version called The Boss Is Back appeared on the Record Man label. There was also a picture disc version which utilized the title and artwork of the original release, together with a similar catalogue number, but with no label identified.

The Great White Boss (Hangman) provided something extra in the shape of a third disc, a 12″ EP featuring You Mean So Much To Me Baby (from My Father’s Place, New York on 31 July 1973) and Don’t Look Back and Action In The Street (both from the Music Hall in Boston on 25 March 1977). It came on both black and coloured vinyl. This was later repressed on Blockhead Records. A no label release also entitled The Great White Boss came without the EP but with an additional track, Circus Song (from the Ahmanson Theater in LA on 1 May 1973). There were several represses of this, including a picture disc version.

The first CD release. Great Dane’s 1989 release Live At The Bottom Line is, according to the Killing Floor Database, a “reproduction of the epic CORAL RECORDS LIVE vinyl, but the source is not the vinyl.” This reproduces the original front cover artwork. Lynn Elder’s guide to Springsteen bootlegs, Bruce Springsteen: You Better Not Touch, published during the 1990s, states that, “Great Dane’s catalog indicates an improved ‘Master Plus’ edition of Live At The Bottom Line is on the way,” though I do not believe it ever appeared. There was also a release on the Main Stream label, entitled Down In The Bottom, which included backstage interviews before and after the show.

There has also been a CD-R release on the Hot Stuff label entitled The Bottom Line On The Bottom Line, derived, according to the sleeve notes, from “a substantially better source.” This utilizes completely different artwork on its card gatefold sleeve, with a different photograph of Springsteen from the Born To Run cover sessions on the front. There is also a booklet with some interesting photographs of Springsteen with David Bowie, Billy Joel, Janis Ian and WMMR DJ Ed Sciaky, an early champion of Springsteen’s music. This would seem to be derived from the Main Stream release due to its inclusion of the two interviews and the fact that, like Down In The Bottom, it cuts off Kitty’s Back after a mere five-and-a-half minutes. (I believe the the Main Stream release appeared in 2002, whereas the Hot Stuff is dated 2004 on the sleeve, which would indicate that the Hot Stuff is a copy of the Main Stream rather than vice-versa,)

The version from Godfatherecords, The Punk Meets The Godfather, also uses the original artwork on the front of its trademark tri-fold sleeve and additionally features some photos from the Bottom Line shows. It also has a foldover booklet with brief notes. The Brucebase website contends that this represents “the best sound quality release of this show, including (for the first time ever) the entire broadcast without edits.”

The Killing Floor Database also mentions the “good dynamic sound and no edits.” Versions of two classic Springsteen shows (this one and Passsaic, 1978) have appeared on torrent sites under the titles The Way It Was: The Complete Bottom Line Broadcast and The Way It Was: Sept 19 1978. The idea was to provide a listening experience that replicated the original broadcasts, complete with DJ comments and interviews. The person behind this, known as Scoper, states that this was Godfather’s source: “This is the same source tape as used for Godfather Records ’The Punk Meets The Godfather’ – they took it from this set when I first posted it on the net.”

Now the Godfather version faces competition from this new no label release, Vintage Broadcast ‘75, a further take on the complete broadcast. Although it is a no label issue, it takes no more than a casual glance at the packaging to realise that this version comes to us from the same source as the recent release of the Born To Run Tour’s opening show, Ready To Run (already reviewed by eric99).

Disc 1 begins with host DJ Richard Neer talking to his WNEW colleague, morning slot DJ Dave Herman. The latter again points out his aversion to the “pre-publicity” and especially the comparisons with Bob Dylan, though he refers to Springsteen himself as “fantastic.”

Commenting on the show he attended on the opening night of the Bottom Line stand, Herman says, “it was a rock and roll show unlike anything I’ve ever seen, at least I’ve ever seen in five or six years. He has the extraordinary power of making rock and roll what is traditionally has been and making it that again, which a lot of people have been unable to do for a long time.” Herman goes on to state that, although “his rock and roll is based on music that goes back not only to Dylan but long before that,” Springsteen is, “totally unique and totally fresh and some thing truly outstanding.”

Neer then comments on the excitement of Springsteen’s live performances, “which cannot be properly captured on record.” The band passes the DJs on the way to the stage, and, as Dave Marsh writes in Born To Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, “Springsteen delivers a spiel patterned after Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title fight boasts,” concluding, “I figure I can take this guy in a few rounds.”

The show opens with a wonderfully vibrant Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, played with a lightness of touch and a sprightly good humour that sets the scene for the show. Then comes a splendid Spirit In The Night, propelled by Clarence Clemons’ saxophone. During the slow section where the protagonist is “making love in the dirt” with Crazy Janey (thereby, according to Peter Basham, in Bruce Springsteen, bidding “farewell to youth”) it is clear from the audience reaction that Springsteen has made his first foray onto the tables near the stage. As Marsh tells us, “Springsteen crawl onto one of the front tables, prompting squeals of delight from the patrons, to sing a verse up close.”

The Crystals’ Then [S]he Kissed Me, the first of the show’s oldies, follows, demonstrating Herman’s point about Springsteen’s lengthy musical heritage. As I stated in an earlier review, Springsteen approaches such songs with a mingled irreverence and love which is most effective. As Marsh continues, “Springsteen dives into the magic world of of the Crystals’ ‘Then She Kissed Me.’ The beauty of the arrangement has Springsteen almost breathless; he sings as if the song were new to him, as if he really had just mustered up the nerve to go up and ask that dream-date if she wanted to dance.”

Next comes Growin’ Up, the song Marsh refers to as Springsteen’s “comic autobiography…its delight balanced between the devilish and the angelic.” It is played here with an almost palpable spirit of wide-eyed youthfulness and it is appropriately succeeded by an impressively swaggering version of It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City. At the end of the song Neer interjects to explain that a minor “slip on the vocal” was due to the fact that “Bruce had crawled out into the audience on one of the front tables and his mic cord was disconnected.”

Curiously, I can discern no such vocal slip and there is no evidence to suggest that Springsteen had crawled on the tables during this song. There is, however, such a slip during Springsteen’s time on the tables during Spirit In The Night. Abrupt shifts in the audience noise clearly indicate cuts between songs, so that the placing of Neer’s remark may indicate that the songs do not appear in the correct order, despite them being arranged thus an all releases.

The intensity of It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City then gives way to the far more relaxed slow version of The E Street Shuffle, which is preceded by a lengthy story, one of the many disparate accounts of how Spingsteen first met Clarence Clemons. Springsteen prefaces this version of the tale with an account of the vagaries of being in a struggling, unknown band. One show was in “the darkest, dingiest, dampest place you ever seen,” and earned the band a collective $13.75! At another they played their hearts out, having been set up by the club’s owner, who told them that the manager of The Byrds was coming to see them.

After one such show, according to the tale, Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt were walking home along the boardwalk when they encountered a large figure “dressed all in white…walking like there ain’t no rain, no wind… carrying a saxophone.” After the climax of the story, where Springsteen and Clemons touch to produce the sparks mentioned in the first line, the song itself follows, in a marvellously atmospheric, laid-back version which is a spellbinding as the preceding story. It also contains a shorter spoken section near the end of the song and a short but searing guitar solo which punctuates the otherwise mellow mood.

Next up is the show’s second oldie, a vivacious rendition of The Searchers’ When You Walk In The Room and things remain uptempo with the first of a trio of songs from Born To Run, She’s The One, a song which, in the words of Jimmy Guterman, in Runaway American Dream: Listening To Bruce Springsteen, “invokes the primordial Bo Diddley beat.” A spirited though rather ragged Born To Run then gives way to Thunder Road in its slow incarnation with piano accompaniment. It has a tremendous emotional impact, making it perhaps the best solo piano rendition of the song.

Ross Warner, writing on the American Heritage website calls the Bottom Line performances of this song “gut-wrenching.” The Rolling Stone website, listing the Bottom Line shows among “50 moments that changed the history of rock & roll,” calls it “the show’s emotional centrepiece: a gripping version.” Astonishingly, this seems to have been essentially unintended. “The band hadn’t learned to play that song real well,” Springsteen later pointed out, “that’s the only reason I did it solo.” Although this may seem surprising, especially as the song had been recorded for Born To Run between March and June, it must be remembered that the song, initially titled Wings For Wheels and with different lyrics, had only made its live debut at the main Point on 5 February (a classic show available on Crystal Cat’s Main Point Night, already reviewed).

Moreover, at this stage the instrumental arrangement of the song was different, heavily featuring violinist Suki Lahav, who played with the band until the concert at Constitution Hall, Washington, DC on 9 March. Furthermore (as I pointed out in my review of Godfather’s A Star Is Born), the band had only played ten shows during early 1975 and had only undertaken one rehearsal for the Born To Run Tour, which began in Providence, RI on 20 July. Considering these factors, the band’s difficulties with the song seem more comprehensible.

Disc 2 starts with another long spoken introduction, this time preceding Kitty’s Back. Disappointingly, it lacks the charm and coherence of the rap delivered before The E Street Shuffle. The rambling and seemingly pointless story involving a fortune teller does, however, have the audience in stitches at several points, and it culminates in Springsteen seeing the rerurn of Kitty for himself in a crystal ball. Fortunately, the song itself is far superior to the intro, and Warner refers to it as a “jazz-fueled tour-de-force.” As was common at the time the song develops into a long, loose jam with frequent soloing. This performance, played with tremendous bravura, clocks in at nineteen minutes, and it is clearly a contender for the best ever live version.

The main set then concludes with a splendidly high-spirited performance of Rosalita, which includes the band introductions (complete with a snippet of the Theme From Shaft for Clarence Clemons). After a brief interjection from Neer, we are treated to the two encore numbers. First up is the 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), which, of course, features Danny Federici’s accordion. Although inherently tinged with nostalgia, this early performance is a little lighter of touch than renditions from recent tours where first the passage of time underlined the song’s wistful character and then Federici’s death overlaid it with an inevitable poignancy.

Then comes a jubilant and breathless rendition of Gary US Bonds’ Quarter To Three, which leaves the audience ecstatic at the show’s end. The spirit of the performance is aptly summated by Dave Marsh in Bruce Springsteen On Tour 1968-2008: “The music burned with passion and jumped for joy.” After Quarter To Three we get further input from Harman and Neer as the band leave the stage with Springsteen reprising his boxing spiel. Finally, Neer hands over to late night WNEW DJ, Alison “The Nightbird” Steele, in the station’s studio, whose closing comments clearly indicate that she would rather have been at the show.

The performance undoubtedly makes this show a classic, but the sound quality has remained problematic. Although it is very listenable, the sound of the various releases has never been quite as good as one might expect from an FM broadcast. Additionally, all versions of the show, whether on LP or CD, have suffered from a distinct hum and an unpleasant scratchy clicking noise at many places during the performance. Elder writes of the Great Dane version that, “sound quality is clear, but not very dynamic.

This broadcast exists on tape in somewhat better quality, though no copy of the original broadcast sounds as good as it should, due to problems inherent in the broadcast itself.” Magnus, in his review of the Great Dane release on the Dutch website The Promise, states that ”the source for this bootleg is a radio broadcast, but unfortunately it doesn’t sound as good as most radio broadcast boots.” Two anonymous commentators on his review also have pertinent things to say on sound quality. The first refers to “the sad shame of this botched broadcast. There are no known existing tapes…that do not suffer from the poor sound quality…Somewhere there must exist a soundboard feed (not broadcast feed) version of this one!!!”

Picking up on this, the other commentator, echoing Elder, says, “I know a better tape of this does exist…the defunct WNEW-FM in NYC that originally broadcast the show used to play portions of the show over the years in much better quality (not great but much better than these discs). I know I have a handful of songs taped to a cassette somewhere in my archives…who is in control of that WNEW tape?”

Despite the limitations of the Great Dane version, which receives a rather harsh 6 out of 10 rating for sound quality from Elder, I would prefer it to the Hot Stuff release. (I have not heard the Main Stream version, though, as suggested above it seems likely that the Hot Stuff release is a copy of it.) Oswald, in his review of The Bottom Line On The Bottom Line on the Hotwacks website, contends that, “Hot Stuff has mastered its tape ‘hotter’ than Great Dane’s so there is now a sharper high end and fatter low end.” Certainly there is a little more immediacy to the sound of the Hot Stuff version, but it comes at the cost of a far greater prominence for the hum and the scratchy noises. which at times, for example in 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), almost overwhelm the music.

The enormous cut in Kitty’s Back also makes the Hot Stuff release one to avoid. There is also a cut of a few seconds at the end of It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City and a rather abrupt end to Thunder Road. The Great Dane does, however, have occasional fluctuations in sound quality, notably a few seconds in Born To Run with conspicuous echo and a segment in Kitty’s Back where there is a clear drop in sound quality. The former problem is less evident on the Hot Stuff issue; the latter defect is clearly also present. The other major difference between the two releases is the extra-musical content. The Great Dane has only the music, whereas Hot Stuff additionally includes tracks entitled Introduction and Interview With Bruce.

The former cuts in after Springsteen has begun his pre-show mock boxing spiel, thereby omitting Neer’s and Herman’s initial comments; the latter is also truncated, being largely confined to the second part of the boxing spiel and omitting both Neer’s and Herman’s comments and Alison Steele’s remarks. The comments after individual songs are omitted, aside from Neer’s first word (”incredible”) at the conclusion of Rosalita.

As indicated above, both the Godfather and no label releases contain what seem to be all of the DJ comments and interviews, indicating that the no label release also originates with the work of Scoper. The Godfather version has a depth and presence that makes it superior in sound quality to previous releases, thereby justifying the comment from the Brucebase website quoted above. The levels of hum and scratching/clicking are kept relatively low on the Godfather version, with the exception of some surprisingly prominent noise at the start of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and the level of extraneous noise is much lower than on the Hot Stuff release.

For example, on 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) the noise that marred the Hot Stuff version is barely audible. However, Vintage Broadcast ‘75 also has full, clear and very enjoyable sound, similar to that of the Godfather release. At times the sound of the new release comes across as marginally superior than that of the Godfather, but (with the exception of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out) the extraneous noises are a little more prominent. Then S(he) Kissed Me, for example, has slightly clearer instrument separation and a marginally fuller bottom end on Vintage Broadcast ‘75. Max Weinberg’s drums seem to pound harder and Clarence Clemons’ sax is more raspy. Elsewhere, however, differences in sound quality are barely discernable. When You Walk In The Room, for for example, sounds, to my ears, identical on both versions. Thunder Road has less background noise on the Godfather issue whereas the no label version has enough noise to mar the sound of the piano, the only occasion where the noise becomes a real issue. Overall, the difference in the sound quality of the music is marginal, whereas the difference in the level of the extraneous noise is a little more than marginal.

This would seem to give Godfather the advantage, and I suspect that this may be the deciding factor for many potential purchasers. However, I also suspect that, when I want to listen to this show in future, the slightly more satisfying sound will ensure that the no label version is brought down from the shelf. One thing, however, is clear – both are much superior to the older releases. This is noticeable not only in general terms but in specific instances. For example, the echo on Born To Run is virtually eliminated and the drop in sound quality during Kitty’s Back is not quite so drastic.

The Godfather release, unlike the no label release, has the advantage of a bonus track, which, to quote the booklet notes, is “an incredible version of Jungleland, jazzy and incomplete [i.e. not in its final form]” from the Bottom Line show of 14 July 1974. A superb performance, excellent sound and significant differences from the official version, principally different lyrics and some extended instrumental soloing, make this highly desirable. However, this performance also appears as a bonus track on Crystal Cat’s The Roxy Theatre Night (an essential component of any serious Springsteen collection), which would seem to negate Godfather’s advantage.

As with Ready To Run, the packaging of this release is simple but effective. Fitting into a slimline jewel case, the packaging features four onstage photographs from the era, at least one of which is from the Bottom Line. Three of the photos are familiar to me from Marsh’s book, Bruce Springsteen On Tour 1968-2005. The outer side of the single sheet front insert shows part of a shot which appears on pages 60-61. It is a colour photograph but the colours are subsumed within a deep red colouring (presumably an effect of the stage lighting). The shot is credited to Phil Ceccola, but no location is given. The outer side of the rear insert has an uncredited colour photo (from page 86) taken at the Hammersmith Odeon gig of 18 November 1975. Springsteen is shown acknowledging the audience by raising his guitar.

This shot has been given a reddish hue so that it matches the front insert. The inner sides of the inserts feature monochrome photographs tinted a plum colour. The front insert (from pages 80-81 and credited to David Gahr) carries part of a photo taken at one of the Bottom Line shows and depicts Springsteen walking along the front of the stage, while a security man holds back a female member of the audience. (This shot also appears on page 118 of Marsh’s Born to Run.) Finally, the inner side of the rear insert, which I have not seen elsewhere, shows a smiling Springsteen between his bandmates on stage, dressed in a fashion identical to his appearance in some of the many Bottom Line shots included in Marsh’s book. The track listing appears on the outer side of the rear insert; there are no band credits or notes.

This is a classic performance and a historically significant show, which all serious Springsteen collectors must own. As Magnus states in his review of the Great Dane version, “the red hot performance is what pushes this bootleg into the ‘classic’ level. There is a certain intensity that runs through the entire show.” The first of the two quoted commentators on his review (who actually attended the late show on the first night) argues that, “15-8-75 is a magnificent show, containing, what remain in 2003, many of my all-time favorite live versions of Springsteen classics and covers.” It is noteworthy that Marsh considers the Bottom Line concerts to be so important that he devotes the entirety of Chapter 1 of Born To Run to an account of them, focusing particularly on the concert under consideration here. This is a must-have show and it is to be hoped that one day a better tape will surface; in the meantime there is much enjoyment to be gained either from the Godfather or this new no label release.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Bruce Springsteen Vintage Broadcast '75 | , | Leave a comment