Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boot Tracker, August 16th 1975, Bottomline

By now the regular readers will know how much I enjoy those '75 shows. So today is a good day for me. Rob Oslan just released another gem on his Fanatic records, his third release in line from the Bottomline series. And as it should be, Rob saved the best for last. The description for this tape on BruceBase didn't bode well, but as promised in the liner notes to this recording the sound is excellent! Dare I say near perfect, especially for an audience tape. There are a few minor drops in sound, a few moments of static and two or three small cuts but nothing shocking, save for Rosie missing a limb. None of these tapes are without warts. Other than that you could have tricked me into believing that this is a lost FM broadcast. Yes folks it is that good! I know I'm biased when it comes to this period, but really, this is good good stuff! The quality of this tape becomes especially apparent during "The E-Street Shuffle", when the band goes real quiet and there's almost nothing more than the Cosmic Kid's faint murmur and Max's soft rim shots, the taper is there to catch them for all eternity. Even on the FM broadcast those moments are lost to static. I doubt this recording will ever make it on any top 55 or top 75 list. The August 15th's historical relevance casts a shadow over all the recording of the Bottomline stand. But as, especially this third release, testifies that really is a shame. The Bottomline broadcast was instrumental in getting Springsteen's career on track, but that doesn't necessarily make it a very enjoyable bootleg with all its hiss and clicks. Fanatic's recent releases, taped by the now immortal Joe Kivak, have, one for one, been much more enjoyable bootlegs. And this last one really is the icing on the cake. Historical relevance be damned!

Of course, as with the previous shows, Springsteen really still needed to hone a lot of his skills. "She's The One" is no where near the impressive performance it would become in the years to come. But the sheer enthusiasm and looseness of these shows is highly contagious. You can almost see the mesmerizing effect Springsteen had on this crowd of 500. During his raps it almost seems he's talking to close friends. No wonder he shied from talking in London when he took the show across the pond for the first time, he was amongst strangers there, you don't talk as freely with strangers, they don't share the same inside jokes and mannerisms as your friends back home. The show is once again filled with some great covers, as if Springsteen is in his living room, spinning old 45s for his buddies. Except the Boss gives a highly original spin to some of these. "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" is slowed down by the band and almost sounds as if Springsteen is trying to convince himself he's really going to make it, really going to hit it big with this record. "Sha La La" is testimony of how well the E-Street Band works as a bar band. There's little snippets here and there again, the Cosmic Kid humming the lines to "Pretty Flamingo" before he gives us a beautiful rendition of "Thunderroad", reworked before the album even was released. Once again history in the making, highly recommended all three of these Fanatic releases, but if you want to stick with just one of them, its this one. And just chuck your old FM broadcast out the window, you won't need it any more. A thriller indeed!

"Sha La La"
Download the full show here in mp3

Sound: 4,5 out of 5
Show: 4,5 out of 5
Artwork: 4,5 out of 5

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