Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting For Change: Bruce's Politics in the 21st Century

For two P
residential elections in a row, Bruce has come out with a prominent endorsement of a candidate, in both cases the Democratic Party. While anyone listening close enough to his music over the last several decades, along with scattered side comments at various shows documented on various bootlegs, would know that Bruce tends to come down on the Democratic Party's side of the aisle, his endorsement of Senator John Kerry marked the first time his allegiance was made explicit. In this Election season, Bruce has chosen to endorse the Democratic candidate for President once more, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

In a PSA type speech Bruce has been giving on the campaign trail in support of Obama, he states "I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality...I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans." These statements level the playing field between artist and politician, making their values, their desires, and their goals similar so as to be indistinguishable. Surely any pure-bred Bruce Tramp will not deny the unfailing nuance and intellect with which he casts his eye towards the American character as a whole. The journey through America in Bruce's eyes beginning with Born To Run's "runaway American dream" continuing throughout the Darkness and River records and especially incisive on the Nebraska album, a stark black and white portrait of the country seen through the eyes of those not quite so lucky as to receive the benefits of the era of Reaganomics. There is an undeniable through line of dissection and thought, and it is through, not a telling, but a showing of what the country is, was, can be, can't be, will be, should be.

In these recent years, Bruce has seen fit to make that which was implicit into something explicit. There has been a shift from allowing the music to show and demonstrate an idea to making that idea unmistakably clear through speaking it, preaching it, outright saying it free from metaphor or Flannery O'Connor-esque storytelling to shroud the point in drama and detail. The facts are these: Bruce Springsteen is a Democrat, Bruce Springsteen supports Democratic candidates for the Presidency, Bruce Springsteen believes his music and vision of America within his music reflects a Democratic ideology.

The first two facts no one may take issue with, as a man and his values are to be his own and his own alone. Personal freedom of voice, of expression, of opinion in this country are some of the best parts about America and Bruce's integrity is admirable. Certainly no one in their right minds would accuse him of being anything but a patriot. Where the train comes off the tracks is in the third fact, the idea that the vision of America being represented in Bruce's music is a Democratic one.

Fans and journalists alike, when praising the music, time and time again cite one the greater parts of the music is it's cinematic quality, the epic nature of the picture painted in the music. The canvas is as far and wide as this country is, and the trains carries all, saints and sinners, losers and winners, as started by one of his best songs about America, community, and redemption. The vision is larger than life...until now. It seems by aligning this music with a particular party, it goes against the very fundamental ideal of the music to begin with. The tent of Bruce fandom is a big one. When one partakes in the concert experience it is clear to see that it certainly takes all kinds. But the populist message of the music is significantly de-emphasized when Bruce sings and dedicates songs to people who are, at the end of the day, politicians running for office.

The concern isn't a conservative one or a liberal one but rather the non-partisan plea of a passionate fan to not see music larger than life, larger than one politician or one party, be co-opted for a specific purpose and message that from now on resonates in the ears in the political context. As if now going to a concert and hearing "The Promised Land" will fill the non-registered Democrats ears with thoughts of Bruce slying winking to Democrats and singing "And I believe in the promised land....but really I'm singing about how great President Obama's universal healthcare program is gonna be"

In short, there is now a divide, a gap between between Bruce and those fans that may not be so quick to invest their faith in a politican, Republican or Democrat. These fans aren't crazy. They aren't gonna burn their records in effigy while waving Nobama signs in the air. They probably aren't going to stop going to the concerts and paying $100+ to see the best show by the best artist and the best band they know. But for these fans, the gap between artist and audience has become wider as the associations become entrenched. “No Surrender” was John Kerry’s campaign song and “Working On A Dream” was Barack Obama’s song on Sunday. For the people who gladly voted for these candidates, no dissonance exists. But for the other kind of listener, the dreamer who still dreams of an America too big for parties and politicians, Republican or Democrat, it up to this listener to reclaim the vision for their own and know that the land of hope and dreams lies not in the words of Barack Obama or John McCain but in the heart and soul of every American citizen who would believe in it. While his words outside his songs may fail to completely capture it, it is this truth that is self-evident in the music and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boss Tracks, It's All Over Now, Bobby Womack and the Valentinos

The last leg of the Magic tour suddenly saw Springsteen going back to his bar band roots. Classic covers were flying all over the place, including some new ones. "It's All Over Now" was one of those debuts with Soozie taking lead vocal. Springsteen arguably first heard this one in the version by the Stones. The Valentinos version, however, is the original take and the more interesting to look at. In many ways "It's All Over Now," written by the great Bobby Womack, reflects an important shift in popular music and culture. The song is right on the edge of a movement toward black independence, the shift from Gospel to Soul and the turning point of what would become known as the British Invasion.

The shift starts with the career of Womack's mentor, Sam Cooke. As a Pop and Soul singer Sam is often recognized as one of those key figures in the development of Soul music. Sam had started his career as a recording Gospel artist, but soon took the leap to secular music. As a Gospel artist singing with the Soul Stirrers, Sam had been extremely popular. The label Sam had been signed to, Art Rupe's Specialty, didn't think a transition to secular music could ever work. Rupe felt it would destroy Sam's career if he started singing, what his core audience perceived as, the devil's music. Specialty let Sam go of his contract. A decision he soon learned to regret as Sam started scoring monster hits for first Keen records and later RCA. Sam's Gospel like approach to his big hits is part of what later became Soul music. Together with Ray Charles, Cooke would lay the foundation.

Like Charles, Sam was fiercely independent. Even though Sam had big ambitions in the Pop circuit, dreaming of playing the Copa like Sinatra, he never abandoned his roots. Sam openly associated with 'radical' black figures like Mohamed Ali and Malcolm X. Both figures reflected strong independent black thought and business. Ali's refusal to serve in Vietnam made him a highly controversial figure at the time, Malcom's "by any means necessary," even more so. Sam's firm believe in black independence prompted him to firm his own record company, SAR records, which would eventually release the 45 we're looking at today. Though SAR never became as big and successful as Motown, initiatives like these did reflect a shift in the civil rights struggle. Increasingly prominent black figures and entrepreneurs were striving independence and equality. For Sam however SAR reflected something more, he wanted to put his roots back on the map. SAR started out in 1959 recording Gospel records, even putting new Soul Stirrers sides on wax. When Specialty had dropped them and their new lead, Johnny Taylor, Sam saw an opportunity.

One of the acts SAR would soon sign were the Womack Brothers, featuring the young Bobby. Sam had first met Bobby in 1951, when the Womack Brothers were opening for the Soul Stirrers. Bobby was eight years old at the time. Taken by them, Sam gave them money to buy uniforms so they wouldn't have to go out and steal them. Bobby and his brothers had started doing Gospel imitating their father's group the Voices of Love, hoping their mother would bake them a cake as she did for his father's group. Bobby later recollected his mother would say "you can have what ever's left. But these guys left nothing but the crumbs. Now we were from a very poor neighborhood (I mean cake was something special), and I said, Those guys don't sing that good and they eat everything! So that's how we started mocking them." So it was cake that led to the first Womack Brother's SAR session in 1961 for the Gospel and Pop classic "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," on which Bobby first took lead.

Sam was impressed by the young Bobby's voice, he felt he sang with authority. Cooke decided to re-cut the Gospel with the Womack Brothers as the Valentinos, re-writing the lyrics the #8 R&B smash "Looking for a Love" was born. Bobby would later recount his ambivalence toward the whole endeavor, feeling like he just made a mockery of God, telling Peter Gulranick, "He knew we were tripping because it was God's song, but he was laughing, cause he had been through it all before." Bobby remembers Sam fondly as a mentor, as the man who taught him everything he needed to know about singing, especially stressing diction, and writing, telling him "people will buy the news if it is sung with a melody." Sam's coaching eventually would lead Womack to write "It's All Over Now." Released in the spring of 1964, the record caught on fast, but the times were changing fast.

"I's All Over Now" was picked up by the Rolling Stones, who cut it in Chicago's Chess studios. By July 1964 they had their version out on the market, taking the winds out of Bobby's sails. Bobby was furious, feeling nobody could sing his song the way he did. He didn't feel the Stones' version was all that good. But Sam saw it differently. "This will be history" he'd tell Bobby, "This group will take the industry, They ain't like the Beatles, they are ghetto kids, they will make it loose for everybody." Sam strongly felt that singers like the Stones and Dylan were changing the way people were listening to music, "these writers start singing their own material. They might not sound as good, but people believe them more," he'd tell Bobby.

Sam wanted to be part of that future. When Dylan came out with his "Blowin' in the Wind" he felt the Jewish bard had written a song that should have been written by a black man. Dylan inspired Sam to write his immortal civil rights anthem "Change is Gonna Come." Unfortunately, we can only speculate on how Sam's career would have developed further as he was shot in 1964, even before the song saw release as a single. To large controversy in the Black community, Bobby would soon marry Sam's wife, even turning up in Sam's clothes on Cooke's funeral. This momentarily stalled his career. It wouldn't be until 1968 before Womack would hit big again with the Soul stomper "What is This." From there on Womack's career would take many twists and turns, but he's always prove to be a Soul survivor. By the mid eighties, Womack's Poets Trilogy was a testimony of his Gospel Soul roots in a time when many artists had shifted to a bland middle of the road formula. Bobby also featured on the Rolling Stones' "Dirty Work" around that time, one of those Stones albums best forgotten.

"It's All Over Now" by Bobby Womack & the Valentinos

Available onThe SAR Records Story

It's All Over Now, Springsteen, Milwaukee 2008

MP3 File

Sources and further reading:
Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke
by Peter Gulranick
Sam Cooke's Sar Records Story, liner notes by Peter Gulranick
Midnight Mover
by Bobby Womack

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boot Tracker: 12/31/75 – Last Tango In Philly

With his first entry we're welcoming Kevin on board. I appreciate Kevin's kind words at the start of his review, but a little hunger is all it takes to start the madness that sucked me into the details of R&R history. I hope Kevin and his writing will be a regular around this place in cyberspace.

I asked Alex if I could contribute to this blog and he kindly obliged to let me help out. I lack the depth of understanding Alex has where music history and all of its wonders are concerned but I'm young, and I'm hungry, and I've got a lot to say. I could compare it to that time when Bruce was busting at the seams of his skin to tell it all to us, let us know everything rumbling around in that head of his, and give us a show worth the price and then some. The Last Tango In Philly, it should be said, is probably the best sounding boot of its time, surpassing even the legendary Main Point and Bottom Line FM broadcasts in terms of audio quality. The recently unsurfaced Uber Release from a 24-track source yields incredible fidelity and, as Ev2's liner notes state, you will feel as if the E Street Band is in your living room. Unfortunately, the catch is that the boot is only 9 songs long, cut in half from an 18 song show, but what remains represents a beautiful Technicolor portrait of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the end of innocence.

December 31st, 1975, finds Bruce not only on New Year's Eve but also on the Eve of his own entrance into adulthood. The Born to Run tour was a sounding bell to announce the arrival of Bruce and the band, but comparatively, it has a laid-back feel in some ways. It finds Bruce with a loose sense of focus, loose in the right ways. Even concerts as early as '76 have a sense of drive and mission, less soul rave-up with the shaggy haired Jersey kid and his band and more of a rock and roll statement of purpose, no doubt attributable for the most part to the lawsuit drama with former manager Mike Appel.

It also stands as a stark contrast to the one officially released concert from '75, the first Hammersmith show, showcasing a Bruce far more comfortable in his own skin and supernova stardom. He gently pokes around at it, intoning before Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street? that "Seasons come, seasons go, you get your picture on the cover of TIME and Newsweek but the bus never stops.""Night" blazes out of the gate and firmly roots titself as a Grade A opener, being used frequently as song number #1 for the setlists of the next two years. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" gets slowed down to a wonderfully lackadaisical pace, evoking nostalgia and the Bruce's ever developing sense of storytelling. The phrasing here wouldn't be repeated on the song until the infamous Christic shows, side stepping actually singing the words "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" until the last moment possible. On songs like "Bus Stop" and "Saint", The E Street Band rips through the tempo, straddling the genre spectrum in something that might be aptly called soul-punk-rock-and-roll. Bruce covers "It's My Life" by The Animals to blistering effect, starting off with a typical "daddy issues" yarn, a thread that would continue an arc within his music through songs like "Adam Raised A Cain" "Independence Day" and "Long Time Comin'". Despite the creepy-hilarious stalker story Bruce tells about him and Stevie chasing a girl, "Pretty Flamingo" is impossibly sweet, in no small part due to Phantom Dan's singular touch with the organ. It's interesting to note that the arrangement here is essentially a mirror image of the '75 arrangement of "The E Street Shuffle", complete with the pause in the middle for a rambling story about nothing/everything.

Any serious collector should do themselves the good favor of getting this immediately. Not even the legendary Main Point show from '75 can compete in terms of sound quality. For those looking for essential versions of cover standards like "Pretty Flamingo", "It's My Life", and "Mountain of Love", it's a must. And if you listen close enough, you can hear Bruce leaving the boy behind and gearing up to meet the man.

"Tenth Avenue Freeze Out"

MP3 File

Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Sound: 5 out of 5
Show: 4.5 out of 5
Artwork: 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Down the Tracks, Tell Tale Signs, Bob Dylan

John Leland once called Dylan a trickster in his book Hip: The History. He saw Dylan as one of those enigmatic people who we are unable to capture, unable to get a real grasp of. A sense of understanding of Dylan, according to Leland, bestows us with a sense of hipness, even though in silence we must shamefully admit to ourselves that the man totally eludes us. Ironically Dylan's trickster image that made him an icon of hip, wasn't something that Zimnmerman seemed to be striving for at the time. Zimmerman has always appeared to be uncomfortable with the iconic status of Dylan, or at least for a large part of his career. I think Robert Zimmerman might have felt he wasn't all that hot, or at least no better than the Woody Guthries or the Blind Willie McTells who inspired him. So Zimmerman spend his career trying to escape Bob Dylan. Not so much a chameleon, who adapts to his surroundings to gain invisibility, Dylan developed to be a lizard, trying to slither out of his status by alienating his fans. He went electric, he went Country, got religion, but to no avail. Ironically every time Dylan tried to slither his way out, it added to his enigmatic status. Dylan radiated an arrogance that only added to his hipness. By the eighties Zimmerman was sick of being Dylan and threatened to become sick of music all together.

Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8, chronicles Zimmerman regaining a sense of himself and shows how Zimmerman grew truly comfortable with being Dylan for maybe the first time in his career. These days Dylan could rest comfortable on his past achievements, but that doesn't seem to be in his character. With the audience that once was hip, now settled and mundane, Dylan could spend the fall of his year blowing in the wind. To an extent he's doing just that. The post eighties Dylan sounds relaxed, at ease with who he his. His voice has grown both harsher and calmer. The wheezing has gone, replaced by a soulfulness that the early Dylan lacked. The current Dylan appears to allow you to get closer, or at least radiates a stronger sense of intimacy. This is a Dylan that allowed Scorsese to make a documentary on him, wrote volume one of his Chronicles and appears on the radio. But who thinks that we are slowly starting to get to know Dylan might be missing the point of what Dylan has been doing in this second phase of his career.

What Theme Time Radio Hour and Tell Tale Signs make clear is that this Dylan isn't as much opening up himself, but is opening his passion. Dylan is spending his career opening up a door to music that is threatened to be forgotten. Dylan is taking us along the houses of the great Blues and Folk legends that gave him his career. As Larry 'Ratso' Sloman writes in the liner notes, Dylan is creating his own archaic music. This Dylan realizes that he has finally lost his hip status, that the status of hip belongs to the rappers and the DJs. Yet it is also a Dylan that uses his iconic status to bear open the soul he thinks music is threatening to lose. As such Tell Tale Signs is a fascinating study of a man, not trying to escape, but pursuing something himself, trying to capture the magic that inspired him, trying to unravel what makes music tick. Though many of the tracks eventually found their way to earlier albums, in one form or another, Tell Tale Signs is still a great compilation to own in itself. Not just because most of the arrangements here are strikingly different from what they wound up to be, but because Tell Tale Signs tells a story in itself.

Listen to Tell Tale Signs on NPR

Tell Tale Signs will also be available in an deluxe three disc edition.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boss Tracks, My Girl Sloopy, The Vibrations

At 33 years of age, most of the songs I review here were already ripe with age before I was even an idea in my parents mind. Hell my parents probably hadn't even met when this gem hit the market. The up-side of missing out on all this great music when it was first released, is that I can be taken completely by surprise by a song that is common knowledge for the sixties generation. A few weeks back, me and my buddy were spinning records at a club. Seemingly out of the blue, my buddy threw on this infectious record with a sturdy dragging beat and a chorus that immediately stuck in my head for days. The McCoys version of "My Girl Sloopy," retitled "Hang on Sloopy" after the chorus, proved to be a killer and instant floor filler. All around me people were waving their hands in the air, singing "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on." Most people in their twenties and thirties who, like me, had no business with this record what so ever.

Digging into the elusive past almost made me feel like I had been living under a rock. It turns out that Garage Gods, the Kingsmen already had their version, it just wasn't on any of the LPs I own. The Five Yardbirds appeared to have a version as well, but I'm not much of a Yardbirds fan, so Sloopy managed to elude me. I scored the McCoys' version on E-bay immediately after that evening spinning records. Turns out that the McCoys were just a mask the Stangeloves briefly wore to get the record out while their smash hit "I Want Candy" was still in the charts. The Strangeloves were touring with the Dave Clark Five at the time, who had expressed the desire to put Sloopy to wax for themselves. The Strangeloves, who wanted to do the song for themselves, realized that the Dave Clark Five would probably outsell them, so they rush released their version as the McCoys, with Rick Zehringers from Rick and the Raiders on lead vocal. After "Hang on Sloopy" hit, the Raiders changed their name into the McCoys officially. The rousing little Rock and Roller the McCoys made it into would eventually become an institute as the official Rock song for the state of Ohio and Ohio University.

The story doesn't stop there. Because the song was renamed after the chorus by most artists who covered the song, I totally missed the original version by the Vibrations, released in 1964. "My Girl Sloopy" was written by the great Bert Russel, who got the quirky name Sloopy from jazz musician Dorothy Sloop Heflick, born and raised in Ohio, she recorded the forgotten classic Dixie and Sloopy in New Orleans, where she made name for herself as a piano player. I don't think Russel had ever expected the song to become an anthem, but the deceiving simplicity of the song along with the theme it addresses makes "My Girl Sloopy" more than just a little infectious ditty. In just two lines Russel made "My Girl Sloopy" a song about social stratification. "My girl Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody tries to put my Sloopy down," the song opens, with of course love eventually triumphing over adversity as Sloopy's lover begs her to hold on. Something the authors of House Concurrent Resolution no. 16 recognized which made "Hang on Sloopy" Ohio's official rock song, making Ohio the only state in the US to have one. Not bad for a little R&R boozer.

The working class lament that is buried under that infectious beat makes "My Girl Sloopy" the perfect cover for Springsteen to do. Oddly enough he only did the song twice. Once in 1984 together with singer John Eddie, who is ironically best 'known' for his album "Who the Hell is John Eddie," in the mid eighties when they shared the stage for one of Eddie's shows. The second time Springsteen included a snippet in Light of Day when the Reunion tour touched down in the great state of Ohio. If you ask me though, "Hang on Sloopy" should be his next single and close his set at this year's Super Bowl.

"My Girl Sloopy"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Boot Tracker, Oktober 9th 1980, Cobo Hall, Detroit

Today we've got a special anniversary conversion show submitted by John Urban, who aptly goes under the guise of Converted at Cobo on the forums. I think John captures the exitement of cherry poppin' time quite nicely!

October 9th, 1980 was the night I caught, or rather was caught by my first Bruce Springsteen concert, and though twenty eight years have passed, I still remember that night and its affect on what I would expect from Rock and Roll ever since. That year, I was the sixteen year old neighbor of a very dedicated Bruce fan, and he had loaned me his collection of Bruce's studio albums hoping to hear something other than KISS blaring out of my bedroom window. We used to sit in his basement with those albums; song after song would play and he'd give me the 'oh, and during this song, Bruce would….' so I was familiar with the music, I'd heard legendary tales of his performances and I'd had a taste of the live experience when I taped the Agora 78 rebroadcast on local station, WABX a year prior. I wanted to complete the circle though; I wanted to see him live.

As my junior year in high school began, tickets went on sale for the River Tour. I was in a real bind though; my circle of friends didn't like Bruce's music, I didn't have a driver's license yet to get me there if I had a ticket, and while my neighbor promised me a ticket if one was left, they were eaten up right away, and now with less than a week until the show, I'd given up hope on going. I went to the first dance of the school year, and found my usual place in the corner by the bleachers. Another friend that I'd only just met the summer before found me there and bragged that he had tickets to the concert. Before I could congratulate him in as deep a sarcastic tone as I could muster, he followed with, 'and Mark has an extra ticket if you're interested in going.' I could have passed out.

The day of the show was a beautiful Indian Summer day, and my friend picked me up in his Chevy convertible. With Born To Run blaring from his tape deck, we drove off to meet up with the rest of his friends and then headed down to Cobo Arena. (Many sources credit the name of the venue as Cobo Hall, but that is actually the adjoining convention center.) We passed the time buying our tour shirts and some Pepsi's, chanted 'BROOOOCE' along with the anxious sell-out crowd of 12,000 as each pre-show song faded out, and checked out the instruments on stage; Clarence's saxophone gleamed under the houselights, Roy's grand piano sat there like the long black Cadillac Bruce would be singing about later that night during Cadillac Ranch, and at the center of the stage, like a holy relic on an alter, Bruce's Telecaster.

True to form, the published start time came and went, and the crowd grew even more impatient until at last the pre-show music shut off mid song and simultaneously the houselights went dark. A thunderous roar rose from the audience as flashlights guided band members to their places, and then after a moment, Max's drum roll marked the beginning of Born To Run. They followed with Prove It All Night and then the account of the band's history in Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out before finally slowing down for Darkness on the Edge of Town and Independence Day. A song that had appeared during the Darkness tour, Independence Day was now an upcoming release on The River which was still another five days from the record stores. Bruce played brave that night; twelve of the twenty eight songs came from that album, yet it seemed the audience was still very much into the new music despite the unfamiliarity, not using those songs for bathroom or beer runs.

This show confirmed what until that night had seemed like tales of legend I'd heard from my neighbor: Bruce went into the crowd to dance during Sherry Darlin', he climbed onto the speakers to lean out over the audience during Crush On You, he bantered with Clarence during Fire and dueled with him prior to their 'Bring It Up' shout during Rosalita, and ignoring Roy's finger shaking wave off, Bruce jumped up onto that grand piano for big air on one of his song ending leaps.

The length of the show matched expectations as well. It seemed that Bruce would never leave, extending the Detroit Medley to include what turned out to be the first ever I Hear A Train. As 1980's only Quarter to Three followed, Bruce finally began begging the audience to let him go; late night Kojak re-runs were on, and Bruce never missed an episode. Assured it was an episode he'd already seen, Bruce broke back into the conclusion of that song and sadly, the end of the concert. As Bruce left, my friends and I sat back down in our seats exhausted and soaked with sweat, hoping for but not getting one of those mid tear-down surprise encores we'd heard about. But how it was that we seemed just as physically drained as Bruce looked reveals the connection Bruce has a talent for creating with his audience; he gives and the audience gives right back. Music isn't just played for the ears, it's owned, molded into something visual, then repeated over the course of three and a half hours with sheer determination.

I arrived home about 12:30 am on that school night; aware of the length of his shows from that Agora broadcast, I'd luckily renegotiated my curfew with my parents ahead of time. I went to bed that night cemented as a fan, that Agora tape playing into my ringing ears, feeling lucky that I'd gotten that ticket, and replaying all that I had seen and heard. I fell asleep knowing that I would be preaching to my friends the next day, as much like the prophet that my neighbor had been to me. Bruce claims that he picks out one particular audience member and uses him or her as his inspiration for his shows. I doubt that he could see me in my upper deck, second from the back row seat, but I can let him claim another successful Brucifixion.

"Born to Run"

MP3 File
The original recording of this show was not in the best shape when I received it. Drop outs due to tape flips have been patched, and the playback speed (which ran fast) has been corrected in the files submitted.

Full Show:

Disc 1
, Disc 2, Disc 3.
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Boot Tracker, Oktober 5th 2008, Columbus Ohio

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality." -Bruce Springsteen

The above quote sums up Springsteen music pretty well. For years I've been trying to explain my fascination for that man to my friends, who more than once looked at me and my borderline obsession quite bemused. I can assure you, I've never been able to capture him in one simple sentence. Unfortunately I'm much to verbose for that. Springsteen's association with Barack Obama makes perfect sense when you set it off against his work and that one sentence. If I were to over simplify Barack Obama, he'd become an image of hope. It has been argued that Obama has been more image than content. In a sense that is true. Senator Barack Obama's strong charisma radiates a hope that America hasn't seen as strong since the mythic Kennedy was president. In a sense his image is as grand (and maybe overblown) as Springsteen's "Promised Land." Obama's image touches something that's bigger than himself, in the same way Springsteen's songs touch that big vision. Barack Obama radiates the vitality and youth that is the American dream. A dream that quite a few of us Europeans are smitten with as well. With its sense that every man is created equal and should have an equal chance to achieve his or her goals, how can you not be?

Yet, as the quote betrays, between dream and reality there's a gap. A gap that these days seems to be widening rapidly. With the stock market crashing, Iraq an continued bloody mess and New Orleans still struggling to get back on its feet, many of us are scared. Truth tell, I'm scared, afraid that I'll learn more about the era the Joads came from than I bargained for. America's brand of capitalism seems to have stretched itself beyond its capacity and once more there seems to be an awful lot of truth in these words, "if America sneezes, the world catches a cold." America has been sneezing big time as of late. So while a lot of Europeans look at the American dream with a sense wonder, we look at the American reality with a sense of fear or apprehension. Often this is mistaken as a form of anti-Americanism in more conservative circles, but it simply isn't. The world has almost as much invested in the American dream as America itself.

The question is if Barack Obama can help restore that American dream. Strip away the image, a man remains, as vulnerable and prone to mistake as we all are. More importantly, as limited in capacity as we all are. Not one man can change society, it takes a nation to do so. Springsteen may claim that "One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down," but the current administration did it an awful lot of damage. Not just damage to the economy and its standing in the world, but to the spirit of America. Right now America needs a president that can built bridges, or rather that can inspire people to built bridges. I believe Barack Obama is that man. He has proved as much in Chicago with his community work, he has proved as much by building a grass roots movement that proved bigger and more powerful than the top brass in the Democratic Party. In the "Audacity of Hope" Barack Obama shows himself as a man of character, a man who is able to approach people with respect and leave room for other points of view. More importantly Obama demonstrates in his book sufficient concrete ideas on how to improve people's lives, he understands what the common American needs to achieve a base sense of quality in their lives and how to get it to them.

In the light of the current economic crisis, both his image and his practicality are important. Economy, for a large part, is based on trust. When consumers and investors start to get cold feet, start to loose faith, the economy shutters to a halt. Practical measures are needed and in recent days Obama proved he was able to recognize the severity of the economic crisis, recognize the measures that needed to be taken and inspire people to make difficult choices. If that isn't the measure of leadership, I don't know what is. So in short, I fully support Springsteen's endorsement of Obama. While all three rally shows were sober and not really all that special, none of these versions will ever become a definitive version, these performances do radiate that electrifying sense of promise and resilience that makes the man so inspiring in the first place. The context is what gives these rally shows their edge. In a few years from now they'll probably won't sound like anything special, but right now I find it enormously exiting to hear Springsteen chant "Yes We Can" along with a crowd that is bigger than the crowd of the average Magic show.

"Mr Spaceman"

MP3 File
A short, but very cool samply. Bruce got introduced by John Glenn in Ohio. Glenn is one of those few people who really seen it all. So if he takes pleasure out of introducing our man, that means something right?

Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Read the review from the Columbus Dispatch here

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boss Tracks; Gino Washington, Gino is a Coward.

"Gino is a Coward" is the song Springsteen based his 1988 Tunnel of Love Express tour show piece on, "I'm a Coward." It's one of those songs that prove that R&R lyrics do not have to be all that elaborate or sophisticated to really make a connection. "Gino is a Coward" is of the most simple poetry, yet it perfectly captures an emotion a lot of us are only all to familiar with. Within those rambling guitars and gusto vocals Gino Washington bares his Soul, he confesses a fear most of us like to leave unspoken, that we're simply affraid of love. We might just feel more fear for love than that grizzly bear Gino likes to wrestle. Love does have that power to paralyze us, to make you feel like your heart is bleeding on the floor. Love is a roller coaster ride of emotions, where it is not all that certain that the cart will stay on the tracks. Now, be honest, who isn't just a little scared of that! It is not without irony that the B-side is the haunting "Puppet on a String."

Gino Washington is one of those more rough and raggedy talents that got eclipsed by Motown's sun. With Detroit buddy's Nathaniel Mayer and Nolan Strong, he never gained the fame of a Marvin Gaye, but did become one of those cult figures that gained a quaint following amongst Garage bands and R&B fans who were drawn to the more unpolished side of the equation. Gino's dad had been a failed Blues singer, so Gino was aware of the disappointments the trade could bring. Yet when he saw Jackie Wilson perform, Gino knew what he wanted, he wanted to be on stage. After winning the talent contest on local television's Milky's Party Time four times in a row, Gino got his break with the fledging Correc-Tone label. "I'm a Coward" was the first single he ever cut, what a way to introduce yourself. Very few copies on this label were ever printed and very rare indeed today. The Ric-Tic version presented here is a re-recording of that very song, without the horn arrangement that is so prominently there in Springsteen's version. In the liner notes for the excellent compilation Gino explains what happened. "With the first time I cut the song, with the horns, it bombed! The arrangement was all wrong, so I went in with Jeff and the Atlantics and tried my arrangement". Correc-Tone than put the single out on their subsidiary Sonbert, when the song broke in Detroit Ric-Tic picked it up nationally.

By the time "Gino is a Coward" started to hit, there was only one thing keeping Gino from the top, those pesky Beatles. As influential as the Beatles may have been, they did change the market. Just when white teen-agers started to discover R&B and allowing people like Gino Washington and Gary 'US' Bonds some cross-over success, the Beatles gave those very white teens a clean cut, easier to identify with, alternative. Though in Gino's case it might also have had something to do with his way of doing business. As Jeff remembers in those same liner notes, the shows were getting bigger and bigger after "Gino is a Coward" hit. Gino got the chance to open up for quite a few big names, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones. The problem was Gino was always late. He'd walk in the very last minute, dressed to kill looking ready to do business. The promoter got fed up with them and when Gino showed up late for the Beach Boys gig, he yelled; "That's it you're not doing the Beatles." If the reaction he evoked during the live shows is any indication, Gino could have been bound for much greater things. Not everybody gets an audience hollering his name, "Gino! Gino! Gino!," during a Rolling Stones concert! If you want to know what Gino is all about, keep an eye on him. He's still out there on the road somewhere, like at last edition of the Ponderosa Stomp! What ever you do though, don't ever mistake him for that fraud Geno Washinton!

"Gino is a Coward"

Available on Out of This World

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Down the Tracks; Southside Johnny, Hearts of Stone beneath a Grapefruit Moon

Some 30 years ago, when Springsteen released his seminal Darkness on the Edge of Town, John Lyon, better known as Southside Johnny did the same with his Hearts of Stone. Though the album didn’t sell all that well at the time years later Rolling Stone magazine would vote it as one of the best albums recorded at that period of time and it has since achieved some kind of cult status. Those in the know recognize Hearts of Stone as one of the best Rock and Soul albums of the late seventies. I sought out Southside Johnny to talk to him about that unrecognized master piece and was thrilled to find the man is as much a fan-boy like his audience. Throughout the interview Southside remained charmingly humble about his achievements and his talent, coming across as a man who is simply thrilled that he’s still able to perform in the shadows of his heroes on stage.

Southside Johnny first started to make his mark at the Upstage, a club down the Jersey Shore. Which according to Southside was more or less a musicians bar, “after all the clubs had closed, we used to just come there and jam into the night,” he recalls some 40 years down the road. Because of its loose atmosphere the Upstage was a draw for musicians from all over the garden state. Southside lived not to far from the club so he would walk up there nightly. Pretty soon he was the constant factor on stage, “because I knew how to sing all those songs,” he explains today. Southside Johnny had been spoon fed Jazz and R&B by his parents. “There wasn’t any Monteverdi or anything like that in our house,” he remembers “they would come home from work and open a beer, have a great time listening to Big Joe Turner or Ray Charles.” His love for R&B made him a perfect match first for Garry Tallent, Springsteen’s future base player, and later for Miami Steve, whom he met at the Upstage club. Southside knew Tallent and Vini Lopez, the first drummer from the E-Street Band, through school, but Miami lived in a whole different area. So if it hadn’t been for the draw the Upstage had, Lyon and Van Zandt might never have met. With a similar sensibility to music his friendship with Miami would later prove key to Southside’s early career as van Zandt became his producer and manager.

The Asbury Jukes, as Southside’s band is called, didn’t form over night however. Southside recalls today that most of the time, whenever somebody scored a gig at the Jersey shore club scene, bands were just formed then and there for the occasion. Lyon was the logical choice to do the vocals, again because of his encyclopedic knowledge of the R&B classics. “It was all less formal than having a band just trying to make it, we were all just musicians learning,” Lyon explains “Nobody was really ambitious, we just wanted to make music and do things.” Things changed when Little Steven started to work in construction, “he was working on the New Jersey turnpike, working a jackhammer, he had been working the guitar for years and years, except there was no money and he had to do something.” Steven had no place to stay, so he was staying at Lyon’s, “one day he walked in, he was covered in asphalt,” Southside remembers “I looked at him and said, Stevie you can’t do this.” Realizing that day jobs wasn’t what was going to make them happy Steven and Johnny started to get serious about music again.

Right around that time Springsteen finally got his big break with Born to Run. Southside got offered a record contract in the slipstream of that success. Something he still is baffled by today. Lyon remembers he was convinced that “they are never going to give us a record contract, they must be crazy! But they did!” Adding with a laugh, “up to this day I don’t know why!!” Steven and Southside went into the studio before all the formalities were taken care of, convinced the record company would change their minds. “We kind of sneaked into this recording studio, the Record Plant, and we didn’t have any money,” he confides today. Jimi Iovine, who had engineered Springsteen’s Born to Run, aided and abetted. “There really was a lot of pressure on us to go out there and make this happen right away,” Lyon explains “Once Born to Run hit, Bruce was swimming in a sea of sharks, he really needed somebody close who he could rely on and relate to, and that was Steven.” So it was also a matter of the Jukes signature guitar player being swooped up in the circus that Springsteen’s career would soon become.

By lucky coincidence Ronnie Spector made a cameo on that very first album. “Jimmy Iovine was engineering that first album, sneaking us into the studio” Southside elaborates, “He had just come of from working with John Lennon on that roots album. Phil Spector produced that, and Jimmy met Ronnie Spector.” While in the studio working with Johnny, Jimmy got a call from Ronnie. Jimmy seized the opportunity and asked Ronnie if she would be interested in recording a duet with Southside. Much to the latter’s excitement, she accepted, “for us she was just a Goddess from our youth!” That fan mentality, the sheer love of the music translated well unto the album and, for that time, it sold very respectable, some 250.000 copies, “so the record company looked at us with some favor” Southside laughs. Yet ’75 proved to be a watershed in the music business, just before the mega million sales started to dominate the market. Southside’s debut was released at the same time as Boston’s first album, “they broke right out of the box office!” Lyon recalls. “We did some shows with them,” he elaborates, “and we were the better band. But they sold 12 million copies, so now the record company is looking at us……”

With the company aiming to repeat Boston’s success, Southside Johnny’s relationship with them would soon sour. Always convinced the record company wouldn’t allow him to do another album, by the time Lyon started working with Steven on Hearts of Stone, this fear was rapidly starting to become reality. To top it off the recording sessions for Hearts of Stone didn’t exactly go as smooth as planned, “we already recorded eight songs, but then decided that they just weren’t what we wanted. It didn’t sound right, it didn’t feel right, so we decided we had to start all over again. The record company by this time was fed up.” Complicating matters was the fact that Miami and Southside had already ran over budget even before they started working on the new batch of songs. “The record company was very, very unhappy with us. They didn’t like the music, they didn’t understand the music, they didn’t really like us. A regime change had happened, people we didn’t know, people who had no history with us. So I told Steven, it’s over”

Hearts of Stone was recorded Southside’s and Steven’s back against the wall, literally on their way out. It was possible that this was their last shot at ever making an album together. “We were under such pressure to make this record that it came out as an intense emotional experience” Lyon reflects on it now “it was one of those moments where you realize that making music is more important than anything else in your life, it made me dig deeper inside myself”. The difference between Hearts of Stone and its predecessor is indeed striking. Where This Time it's For Real was still laden with stylistic exercises (complete with a Leiber and Stoller pastiche featuring the Coasters), strings and sugar sweet blue eyed soul, Hearts of Stone became a whole different ball of wax. In little under 35 minutes all the anxiety and frustration from dealing with the record company, combined with the sheer love of the music, just comes poring out. Hearts of Stone is at the same time jubilant as it is uneasy, brimming with mixed emotions. Steven’s stiletto like guitar slashes though the Motown Soul with raging love. Lyon delivers a vocal performance of a man who is trying to cling on to the love of his life as she’s walking out of the door. In what sounds like a clash between the Four Tops and the King’s Men, Miami and Lyon delivered an album that is a text book case of how a Rock album should sound, a feverish exorcism, a raging celebration. But without the support of the record company, the album sank like a rock.

Despite all that was going on, Southside Johnny remembers that working with Steven on the album, the latter being notorious for his headstrong views on how music should sound and be recorded, was easy. “Because we had faced the adversity of the record company, it gave us the inner strength to say; we know what we’re doing, so we’re going to go out and do it and come hell or high water we’re going to go do it the way we know it should be done,” he reflects on it now, “and of course Steven and I had the same view point on how recording should be done, that it should be a visceral experience, that it should be honest music. So that part was pretty easy, except it was late nights and I’d come of the road, the tour bus would drop me off at the studio and I would sleep on the studio couch.” Despite Hearts of Stone turning out to be one of the best Soul albums recorded after ’75, Lyon doesn’t feel he trumped his heroes, “we paid the best tribute we could” he humbly says today.

When Hearts of Stones was released, Lyon was swimming against the current with his music. “It was actually a time when music had become a little bloated,” he explains “and I think we were part of the reaction against that.” Southside explains that “all the records that I love are moments caught in time, they are not as produced and structured.” From that perspective Lyon was able to relate to the punk movement as well, even though his brand of music (and the Asbury Park scene) was quite a bit more sophisticated. Lyon acknowledges they had different roots, “but we certainly understood each other. Steven and I used to go and see the Ramones in CBGB’s and they were great! Holy shit! The punk scene to me was kind of a breath of fresh air too, for some reason we managed to get along with them. I think there’s a real bond between people who are not part of the system and don’t want to be part of that system.”

With Hearts of Stone sinking, the Jukes were threatened with a life in the bar scene again. Southside Johnny admits that he resented it at the time, “I felt we were better than that.” Lyon was determined not to give up and continued to keep touring while his career hang on a thread. “We just kept going and that’s 30 years ago” he laughs at it now. Lyon elaborating on how he “just want to have a chance to be me and be honest about what I feel,” might just be the key to why he continued to struggle with record companies. Lyon is not the type of artist to compromise his music in favor of current trends. He is first and foremost a fan of music like his audience. Lyon is capable of recounting is first James Brown concert in the early sixties in a fashion that makes it sound like he just stepped out of the venue, still brimming with excitement. Record executives concerned with sales figures, big sales figures, have a hard time following that train of thought. “Most of the people in the business have nothing to do with music,” Southside claims, “and that’s an immediate alienation for most of us.”

It is the same fan boy like admiration that seeps through on his latest project, Grapefruit Moon, a big band take on the songs of Tom Waits. On the surface Waits’ music might seem like a big leap from the R&B records by the Drifters Lyon loves to collect, but as Southside explains, “I think there a real connection between that, there’s a little Howlin’ Wolf in Tom, there’s certainly a lot of cool Jazz like Charles Brown. There’s a real R&B background in Tom, you can really feel it,” adding with a laugh, “he sounds like he’s down on the street, where he belongs.” The big band project first came into fruition when Johnny met Tom after an Amsterdam show Waits just gave. Lyon sprang his idea on Tom and Waits immediately warmed up to it, “so I said ok, if he can understand it, than I’m alright.” Lyon admits that covering Waits was a challenge, “it had been done but it had not done very well. Not to be cool or anything, but I knew if we did it the way I wanted to do it, it would be different” Eventually Lyon got up the courage to ask Tom if he wanted to sing on the album, Tom agreed. “It was a great moment, I was standing in this funky little hippie studio in California, and it was one of these little moments in your life where you just say I’m grateful to have this opportunity.” Southside Johnny’s drive to approach music open and honest, maybe surprisingly, makes Grapefruit Moon an artistic success. The album is as much about the love of music as the music of Tom Waits.

Lyon’s career has been rough and bumpy, and as he admits not without regrets. "I’ve regretted it many times. I hate to be blunt about it, but its true. You know, pulling up four o’ clock in the morning at a gass station where they have a little lunch counter and you know you’re gonna eat a chili cheese dog at four in the morning and be sick, and you’ve got a gig to do that night and the next night, with ten hours of driving in between and you just think, What the fuck am I doing.” Still he is quick to add, “once you get on stage, it all clears up, you understand what you do.” With charming humbleness Southside admits that his aspirations were modest, “I just wanted a chance to tour, a chance to see the world, it may not see like much to most people, but that’s what I wanted.” The audiences all over the world still respond with a fervor to the Jukes on stage. Southside explains “mostly what I wanted to do is have fun. I know that seems like a small ambition but I never wanted to be a R&R hero. I wanted people to come to the shows and have a good time, just enjoy themselves.” Southside in that sense is R&R’s foremost anti-hero. Standing on stage in a plain jeans shirt and small sun glasses, he looks like he just stepped out of an auto parts shop or the construction site Little Steven escaped all those years ago. As such Southside Johnny is easier to connect to than most of R&R’s super stars, maybe even easier to connect to than Springsteen, in whose slip steam he got his first break. “I didn’t think my fans had to worship to any throne or anything like that,” Lyon says about it himself, “I wanted it to be like the music I used to see, where you would go and see the Drifters and just enjoy yourself, I never wanted anything more than that.” Going by that standard you might just say that Lyon’s career has been a great success, a success in honesty and love of music.

"Gotta Find a Better Way Home"

From Hearts of Stone

Grapefruit Moon is available on line through the Southside Johnny store and Amazon

Down the Tracks; Tom Morello, The Fabled City

We're back on line! While being out of the loop I've made myself useful and prepared two articles that might be of interest to you. The review of Tom Morello's new album is one of them, but I've got a big surprise for you tomorrow!

“The Fabled City” is Tom Morello’s second solo outing as the Nightwatchman. Though Morello admittedly performed a lot of these songs “amidst the tear gas attacks at the G8 protest,” there is, again, little common ground between this solo album and his work with Rage Against the Machine. Though in both projects Morello presents himself as a socially and politically engaged artist, the methods are strikingly different. Morello has called the Nightwatchman as his antidote against arena rock. In tone and approach of the complex social issues Morello likes to address it is exactly that, the opposite of Rage Against the Machine vicious guitar riffs and raging vocals. Morello’s album is more reminiscent of a Rubin produced Johnny Cash album, his voice strikes a resemblance to Iggy Pop, sans the irony, the content closer to a Steve Earle record. On the surface there’s little what links the two projects.

Morello’s inspiration for the Nightwatchman came from a rather unexpected corner for most Rage Against the Machine fans, I can imagine. Explaining the project today Tom claims that “the clear model for me was seeing Bruce Springsteen on his Ghost of Tom Joad tour. I was stunned at how powerful and heavy a concert could be without any Marshall amps in the room.” For Morello fans who view Springsteen through Reagan’s patriotic shades this link might be somewhat of a shocker. But fans who paid attention to Rage Against the Machine’s cover of the “Ghost of Tom Joad” and managed to look beyond the synthesizer layered sound of the “Born in the USA” album, might have found quite a bit of common ground between the two artists. From Springsteen Tom went back and explored the extensive catalogs of Dylan and Woody Guthrie, from where the Nightwatchman started to take shape. Though the two artists shared the stage for a fiercely rocking version of the “Ghost of Tom Joad”, their approach to songwriting bares little resemblance to each other’s work.

Where Springsteen constructs his songs as miniature novel or films, Morello’s songs are decidedly more abstract. Using quite a bit of biblical imagery, Tom paints a rather apocalyptic picture of American society. Though the protagonists Springsteen likes to use, you know, the working class and disenfranchised, Morello chooses to take snap shots of them rather than chronicle the events that mark their lives. Morello’s songs are more like the murals from Diego Riviera, images of working class heroes and victims of capitalism’s shadow populate his songs. Though explicit criticism of the current Bush administration drifts in and out of the songs, the songs keep a certain abstract quality. Where the songwriting at Rage Against the Machine was littered with the same catchy, though strikingly more vicious and rebellious, one-liners politicians like to use, Morello’s albums leave more room for your own reflections.

Question is of course which approach is more the more successful. Graduated from Harvard university with honors as a Political Science master, Morello has always been more of a political activist than he was a rock star, even though his current appearance in the Guitar Hero video came might have you suspect otherwise. Like Woody Guthrie, Morello is a songwriter with a mission. Though lacking the depth Morello’s Nightwatchman has, Rage Against the Machines hard rocking one-liners might just be more effective in getting the attention of a large audience. On the other hand, Rage Against the Machine’s albums have never been as thought provoking as “the Fabled City.” One-liners can be rather off putting in their uncompromising insistence. Morello’s acoustic albums may never reach such a large audience as Rage Against the Machine has, but for who is willing to listen, there is quite a bit more room for developing your own opinion on the issues Tom addresses.

In all, while the record breathes a sense of resilience and rebellion, its atmosphere is dark and dreary. Another vital point where Morello differs from Springsteen, who’s records are always balanced with songs that breathe an enormous amount of hope (though less so in his acoustic albums). Morello’s more skeptical outlook on the elections is no surprise after listening to “the Fabled City”. Where Springsteen is an open supporter of Barack Obama, Morello’s opinion of the man is steeped in criticism. While he concedes that an Obama presidency would be a major step forward symbolically, he also adds :”I firmly believe that it’s the system that’s the problem, rather than one party or the other. When a candidate steps forward who will end poverty and end the war and save the environment and be unbending to capital, we’ll see. Racism is as American as apple pie and baseball. A black president would definitely be a step in the right direction for civilizing the nation. But at the same time there’s Obama’s vow to continue a war in Afghanistan and saber-rattling in Iran. Whatever the voice is in his soul that whispers the good things, there are political demands. That’s why I’m a guitar player and a singer. I answer to no one”

"Whatever it Takes"

Morello will tour behind “the Fabled City” this fall.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Bossday Everybody!!

The internet connection at home is still down. Its been more than a week now. But I couldn't let this day pass without a birthday wish for our man. So I'm borrowing a few more minutes of my Boss' time here and hope to be back soon! Meanwhile, if I'm able to give frantic 3 hour shows at the age of 59, I'll count my blessings. Though I suspect that even at 33 years of age, I wouldn't be able to do it today. 59 sounds old, but it sure as hell didn't look old over the past year. I've got a sneaking feeling that our man will be defying age for quite a few years yet! Have a good one!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Legend of sir Lattimore Brown

Hi folks, my internet connection at home is on the frits. Till I get it back up I'm not able to create any new posts, so I hope to find out what's wrong with it soon! In the mean while, here's a post I did at Twangville earlier this week. A quick copy and paste in the boss', my boss, time. As far as I know there's no connection between Lattimore and Springsteen, save for the fact that the Boss enjoys his Soul music. But I felt this story was well worth sharing.

It's Such A Sad, Sad World

Who you might say? That's what I thought when I first saw this name pop up over at the "B" Side, Red Kelly's excellent blog. These days the net is swarming with Internet publications, blogging is so easily accessible that anybody with a half functioning computer can work it out. People like me who just like to write, but people like Red as well, who actually can write! For the past few years Red has been calling himself the Soul Detective, digging up all kinds of half forgotten Soul platters while digging deep into the fabric of what made them tick. But it wasn't until Red started his Lattimore Brown chronicle last June that he really earned his self-given moniker. It is impressive enough that Red knows who Lattimore is. Though a stellar Soul shouter, sir Lattimore never had much of a career in the spot lights. It is even more impressive though that Red found Lattimore when he was thought dead since the eighties. Each of Red's entries is dressed up with a mind blowing music download that makes you wonder how it is possible that he was even forgotten or passed by.

The whole story started with a nurse, treating a delirious patient, after the patient had been stabbed with a rusty screwdriver. The patient claimed he was a singer. Going beyond her duty, she googled Lattimore and word eventually got to Red. It turned out that Lattimore had been living in Biloxi all these years. Though New Orleans got all the publicity, it was Biloxi that got the direct hits from Katrina. The town was devastated by the storm, Lattimore lost damn near all he had in it. Red decided to look him up and caught up with sir Lattimore after losing track of him a couple of times. In a series of lengthy posts Red chronicled his times with Lattimore. The story that enfolded is without a doubt one of the most impressive I've ever read in the blog sphere. Through Lattimore's story Red traveled an alternate route through the history of Soul music. Lattimore may not have made much of a name himself, it appears he was lurking behind the scene at quite a few key moments. From Isaac Hayes, to Wilson Pickett, they all pass by. Slowly his story gives you a deeper understanding of how music works and the significance it has in the lives of people who create it and the lives of people who are captured by it. In almost a Hollywood like script we bare witness to Lattimore getting back on his feet while the musical landscape of America passes by.

That is, until Gustav hit. For the second time Lattimore lost all his earthly belongings. When Red finally caught up with him this 77 year old soul surviver was unsure where he would sleep that night, with only the clothes on his back to comfort him. Red opened up a fund to help Lattimore get back on his feet. I like to take this opportunity to ask you to support Lattimore anyway you can. If you want to know why, just take a few and read all about the Legend of Sir Lattimore Brown

Friday, September 12, 2008

Boot Tracker, On The Tracks: November 24th 2002, Tampa

Another guest story by a fellow Tramp, Brian Frederick. Brian picked the story of his first show and is planning to do a series of them on the forums. His cherry busters happens to be captured on a stellar sound board recording. Without a doubt one of the finest bootlegs of the Rising tour. One of those tapes that trumps the official live in Barcelona release, even though the audience is a bit too distant for my taste. The set however is a killer!

So much has and will be said of my adoration of the Rock and Roll legend that is Bruce Springsteen. In fact, that is what I am going to be doing here today. I am beginning a writing series….NAY, a writing odyssey chronically my brief glimpses of rock perfection. I am going to tell the amazing, zany, sometimes outrageous stories behind each time I have seen the Boss in concert. As I sit here today I have had the honor of doing just that Eleven (11) times in the last five (5) years. I realized today that each single concert has some epic adventure leading to, happening during, or taking place after. The year 2002 was an interesting year in my life. By the time half the year was gone I was once again facing a major crossroads in my life. I was living in Minnesota at the time and I had been there about 4 years. Soon after I moved there is when I discovered my admiration for Bruce and he really made a big impact on my life. It was my new "thing" that I loved to get immersed in. You see I was never a Bruce fan growing up in New Jersey. Sounds odd I know but it wasn't until I "busted out" of there that I grew to appreciate my home state and Bruce kind of represented that for me. Anyway things had gotten pretty rough in MN and one of my escapes was the fact that Bruce had a new cd coming out, 'The Rising.' It was his first new album in almost ten years and obviously his first new disc since I had become a fan. When the first single was released I would leave the radio and use a cassette to try and catch it and record it. The first time I did hear it I drove around aimlessly through the back roads of MN waiting for it to come on the car radio. The DJ kept saying it was coming right up but didn't play it for almost an hour. When he finally did I pulled over to take it in. I was not only like a kid at Christmas; I was like a kid at Christmas who had been blind his whole life then woke up Christmas morning to not only his presents but his sight as well. Ok, that might be a bit much, but I was excited. With a new record out Bruce and the E St band were due to go on tour. I was hell bent to catch him live. Only trouble was, life had blown up in my face and I knew I needed to make big changes. It was time to evacuate MN. But where to go? Back to NJ with my grandmother? Down to Tampa to live with my folks? Where would I see the Boss (yes, obviously priorities were firmly in order)? I chose to move to Florida but planned on hitting Jersey along my route to meet said grandmother. When I left the Midwest I missed Bruce there by only a week. When I made it to Jersey I missed him by only day. Feeling beaten I thought maybe life and got the joke over on me and I wouldn't add a Bruce show to my life's story. Then the fall dates came out. Bruce would play the Ice Palace in Tampa in November, mere months after I arrived. My plan started to take shape.

Flash forward to August and I was a resident in Tampa Bay. I kept eyeing the November date when my idol would arrive. I thought I would kill two birds with one stone. Not only would I see the show, screw it, I would get a job in the arena as well! And I did just that, working the next month as security. I figured I would get to see the show for free, get paid, and hell maybe meet the man as well. Well that idea went to heck quickly. I worked security for the arena but had a steady string of luck getting stuck outside telling folks where and where not to smoke. I missed quite a few good shows and feared the worst once the Jersey Boy came to my new home. Needless to say my stint working at the Ice Palace ended shortly thereafter. I obviously was not going to let a silly thing like work keep my dreams from coming true.

The days started to fade away and my first dance was about to take place. Somewhere on the net I came across a nice pair of women from the great state of California who were coming to town for the show. They just happened to have an extra ticket and I found my in. I met them at some swanky Tampa hotel and was so nervous I wouldn't find them or something would go wrong. This was before I was introduced to the world of cell phones. Well things worked perfectly and I got my ticket and headed off to the arena to prepare. I was there way before show time which allowed me ample time to purchase my first Springsteen shirt. It was kind of pricey and I think it exhausted all of my funds, which left me without toll money for my return. I didn't really seem to care. They let us in and I wasted no time finding my seat. I sat and just looked in awe at the stage. This was really gonna happen. I had been waiting almost 4 years for this night. I wanted to change into my new shirt but was not about to leave my seat, god forbid I miss a single thing! I ended up just putting it on over my existing ensemble which was fine because they didn't call the place the "Ice Palace" for no reason.

"Good evening Tampa!" was all he said and off we went, 15,000 of my closest new friends and I with one of the greatest stage performers of all time. I don't have a problem telling you that when he took the stage I had tears in my eyes. I had such a blast cheering, dancing (!) and singing along. I laugh now because I had just purchased 'Born to Run' that day and wasn't familiar with all of it yet. So when he broke into 'Night' and 'She's The One' it was like hearing new songs, where today they are staples of a Bruce show and I know them like my birth date.

The show was marvelous and went by like a speeding train. When it goes by you look in the windows and make out bits and pieces of things. But once it’s gone you fondly look back as if you caught every color, every detail. The highlights were definitely towards the end of the set most notable Bruce playing 'Incident on 57th St' alone on piano. It was haunting and beautiful. At the time I knew it was amazing but it turns out it is kind of a rarity so I was very, very lucky. To this day it is my favorite performance of any of his songs that I have seen. The women I sat with went bat shit crazy when he did it. Now I do too when I listen to it on my Ipod. As the show was wrapping up it didn't seem like Bruce wanted to leave us anymore than we wanted him to. After the encores he took the stage to cover 'Twist and Shout' just to make sure he sent us all home in a frenzy. And like that it was over. The very first step in a long, beautiful journey I have taken with my musical idol. I suppose I couldn't even imagine the places I would end up and what I would experience. But I do now and I am gonna share it! My second go round would still be very amazing, but pretty much NOTHING like the experience I had the first time. My crazy Boss adventures were just getting started.

Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street

MP3 File

Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Recording: 5- out of 5
Show: 5- out of 5
Artwork: Various available through the link section.