Classic Live '78 Springsteen LP Reissued

 

Three disc
set arrives next month.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Among Bruce Springsteen fans, the ’78 Darkness On the Edge Of Town tour has
earned genuine godhead status, and there are plenty of live bootleg albums,
both audience-sourced and taken from FM broadcasts, to back that up. On Sept.
30 of that year the E Street Band rolled into Atlanta’s Fox Theatre and
proceeded to blow the roof off, starting with an opening salvo of “Good Rocking
Tonight”/”Badlands”/”Spirit In The Night” and proceeding through the bulk of Darkness plus selected other goodies, including
the only known performance of the old R&B instrumental “Night Train.”

 

The show has long been prized by collectors because it
was originally broadcast live over 20 FM stations throughout the Southeast and
subsequently was bootlegged a number of times over the years. Those bootlegs,
however, such as Same Old Played Out
Scenes,
Here’s To Ya and Fox Theatre Presents The Boss, typically
bore significant flaws in the audio, and as a result a number of other ’78 broadcasts,
also booted, wound up being more desirable and of course better known,
including concerts recorded in San Francisco, Cleveland and Passaic. (As the
story, possibly apocryphal goes, there was bad weather in the region at the
time of the Atlanta
show, which affected the quality of the radio broadcast, and it’s also been
reported that a lot of potential tapers that night simply failed to switch
their decks on.)

 

(No video appears to exist from the Atlanta show, but here’s a clip from Passaic, featuring so-so vidoe but stunning audio, a version of “Prove It All Night” that typifies the ’78 tour. Watch for Clarence Clemons to come in at about the 5 1/2 minute mark. RIP.)

 

 

 

Recently, though, a new version of the Fox tape
surface, reportedly sourced directly from a first generation recording, and it
quickly began making the rounds of the torrent download sites. According to
SpringsteenCorner.com:

 

“Earlier this year [the JEMS Archive] acquired
several tapes from a kind and generous soul who, while not a collector, had a
number of interesting recordings land in his lap back in the day. The tapes had
not been played in more than three decades. In the box were two cassettes of
the Atlanta
show. As luck would have it, they weren’t merely an upgrade of the broadcast
but a pre-FM recording of the show dubbed from 15 IPS reels. The sound quality
of the pre-FM source is truly first rate, lacking the heavy compression of the
over-the-air broadcast and boasting much wider stereo separation than any
extant FM source. The pre-FM also corrects most of the speed issues with the
previous bootlegs. And we do pick up some previously missing audio bits. These
includes a few sentences spoken by Bruce before “Santa Claus” and,
more significantly, the 40 or so seconds that were missing from the start of
“Backstreets” plus some band member intros after that song. That
being said, the cassettes were in less-than-ideal condition and required
re-shelling and baking for playback. Experienced ears might pick up on very
minor fluctuations (e.g. on the tape flips) that couldn’t be corrected.


“In short, what we do have sounds awesome. However, because it is Atlanta, we’re still
snake bit. The pre-FM source is missing the entire encore (presumably a lost
third cassette, and yes, we’ve asked if it might be hiding behind dresser or
something), needs a long patch (6+ minutes) from halfway through “Prove It
All Night” through the start of “Racing in the Street” (we had
hoped tape baking would fix this damaged part but it didn’t), plus a tiny patch
at the very end of “Because the Night.” But even that bad news has a
silver lining, as JEMS also found–gathering dust in its own archive–a 7-1/2
IPS reel to reel of the full broadcast from WINZ-FM Miami that we feel is superior to what’s
found on Same Old Played Out Scenes, having a more natural, less processed and
compressed sound. This new reel was used to patch the longer missing bits (e.g.
the “Prove It” to “Racing” chunk noted above) in the pre-FM
and provide the encore.

 

“The only material flaw in the WINZ source are a few short (one second or less)
dropouts in “Raise Your Hand” that, while unfortunate, aren’t
particularly annoying, they’re just there. After experimenting with using SOPOS
to patch the dropouts, we decided that the “repaired” version sounded
worse than the original as the gaps are so short, the change in sources is
jarring. So we’ve left “Raise Your Hand” from the WINZ tape intact,
with dropouts, but also included an extra file of “Raise Your Hand”
with no dropouts from Same Old Played Out Scenes. The end result is not
perfect, but it is 100% complete, for the first time ever, and it is the
best-sounding Fox Theater recording by a wide margin, especially the 85% of the
show that’s now pre-FM.”

 

Now stepping into the mix is venerable Italian label
Anubis with another one of its custom-designed, limited edition CDR releases.
Titled Night Train, appropriately
enough, it’s taken from this newly discovered master. Our source at Anubis
confirms that they used that pre-FM version and that the results are “incredible
– one of the best Bruce boots from the best Bruce era.”

 

Anubis, per tradition, did its own audio tweaking of
the tape but didn’t find it necessary to do a wholesale overhauled. Says our
source, “We cleaned the tape, made a very light equalization and a final master
to extract the full potential of the tape, but without saturating it.”

 

Night Train will be available as a three-disc set next month. It
will come with full artwork and an extensive booklet. See the track listing,
below:

 

 

1
Good Rockin’ Tonight
2 Badlands
3 Spirit in the Night
4 Darkness on the Edge of Town
5 Independence Day
6 The Promised Land
7 Prove It All Night
8 Racing in the Street
9 Thunder Road
10 Jungleland
11 Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
12 Night Train
13 Fire
14 Candy’s Room
15 Because the Night
16 Point Blank
17 Not Fade Away > Gloria > She’s the One
18 Backstreets > Sad Eyes
19 Rosalita
20 Born to Run
21 Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
22 Detroit Medley
23 Raise Your Hand

 

 

 

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