Sunday, April 6, 2008

Boot Tracker; November 29 1974, Trenton NJ

It is fair to warn you that when it comes to early Springsteen recordings, from the period '74 to '77, I'm a bit biased. I love those shows with a vengeance. Springsteen as an artists was still trying to find his groove, the E-Street Band wasn't set in stone yet. Especially in '74 and '75 in the months going up to the Born To Run album exiting things were happening. Tracing the bootlegs from that period you can slowly see how the songs of that land mark album are taking shape. Some might even say that this is Springsteen's peak as a song writer. Though I do not agree with that assessment it is certainly a period where Springsteen wrote his most romantic street scenes in his own brand of verbose beat poetry. You could see the cosmic kid growing up before your eyes.
The Kivak master series have been a blessing if only for that reason. "From The Churches To The Jails" is now available through Jungleland. Like many of the tapes Mister Anonymous provided to Joe Kivak the sound quality leaves somewhat to be desired. "From The Churches" is an audience recording with a hopelessly muffled sound suffering from the echo of the venue. The drums often sound flat and the various instruments leak into each other. But the show is absolutely amazing.

The set opens with a haunting "Incident on 57th" street, Springsteen backed with Suki's lonely violin and some spare piano. Enough to get you sold. But it doesn't stop there, the show also sees the debut of Springsteen's version of Dylan's "I Want You" and has an early study of "Jungleland" where Clarence's epic solo is still missing. "New York City Serenade" here is able to compete with the definitive version of all time although you could argue that Max's drumming misses a certain swing the song needs. The show closes with a trailblazing encore made up from three cover songs amongst which "A Love So Fine" and "Wear My Ring (around your neck)". It's in those encores and "NYC Serenade" though where this boot becomes frustrating to listen to at times. Though there are moments where the music carries you away and you forget the mud and hiss, there are just as many moments where you'll find yourself cursing the sound. In essential moments in the show Springsteen isn't allowed to fly. And that's a shame, because even though his land mark songs are missing, this is a stellar show!. Kivak created Fanatic records for these releases, but I'd say that this is a must have recording for anybody who enjoys the '74 shows despite the frustrating sound. I applaud Mister Anonymous and Joe Kivak for all the effort they put in this series.

"Jungleland mp3"
Download the complete show in mp3 format here.

Sound: 2,5 out of 5
Show: 4,5 out 0f 5
Artwork: 3 out of 5

6 comments:

bsfanatic said...

I would like to thank you for posting a review of this show. I agree with your comments as far as the quality of the recording. Back in the 70s cassettes were used as the primary trading format. So, you can imagine recordings being dubbed and losing so much quality by the time it reached the 50th fan. Another thing is that the recorders used during the early 70s were state of the art for that time, but primitive compared to today's technology. So, the quality won't be the same as today's recordings. The idea behind the master series was to release first generation shows to replace the multi-generation copies that had circulated for years. The one thing you mentioned that was incorrect was that Joe Kivak created Fanatic Records. Joe Kivak created the cassette recordings, but I created Fanatic Records. My website is www.fanaticrecords.org. It's not really a record label, but an artwork cover project. I was approached by Mr Anonymous to upload his original master cassette recordings and create artwork using many of the original photos he had taken at the actual venues. So, it was a thrill and honor for me to participate. My other part in this was to edit any space gaps, glitches and pitch problems. I’m in no way an engineer, but improvements have been made. None of these recordings will ever be sonic masterpieces, but the feedback that I’ve received from fans that have collected the previous circulating versions was positive and that most of these were welcome upgrades.

As always enjoy!

Rob Oslan
Fanatic Records

SoulBoogieAlex said...

Hey Rob,

Thanks for setting the record straight. Although I am critical of the recording, I've enjoyed all the releases I found from fanatic records so far. As I said, I'm a big fan of early Bruce.

Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Over the many years I have continued to try to find better versions of shows I already had from the 70's. After listening to several releases of the Roxy 75 FM broadcast it was obvious that my original cassettes were the only recordings of this show in circulation. It was also obvious that really bad copies were all that was in circulation. The internet has given us the perfect vehicle for circulating recordings from the original tapes, warts and all.

I welcome anyone who has a different source recording for any of the Master Series and Kivak Master Series recordings to post it. It is pretty amazing that only one source appears to be available for so many of these 1974-76 shows.

I remember one other New York fan who was taping and has never traded as far as I know. I believe his name is Robert Bauer and if anyone might know him urge him to share whatever he recorded.

Anonymous said...

good review, but wondering was Max part of this tour? Always thought he didn't join band on tour until after recording Born to Run.

SoulBoogieAlex said...

According to Brucebase Max first met Bruce on March 7 1974, some four months before he would audition for the E-Street Band in August. Bruce was headlining, Max was playing in the Jim Marino Band who opened for him. Max's live debut with Bruce on stage would be in September that year. The nineteenth to be precise, at the Mainpoint. That venue seems to have had more than its share of legendary Boss moments.

Apesbrain said...

Thank you so much for pointing me to this show. It was my hometown and I was there! My second ever Bruce concert having seen him under the stars in Central Park that summer. Must have been back from college on Thanksgiving break. Can't believe I got tickets at that late date. Sat in the orchestra pit since there was a spotlight in our seats. I'll never forget being so close when Bruce opened the show singing alone and shrouded in his leather jacket at center stage. The cover photo of Suki from that opening really brought back memories. While still formative, the version of "Jungleland" on this recording is simply stunning and really captures the feel of a Bruce performance of that era. By the way, it was my first time in the War Memorial Theater and I was surprised at how beautiful it was inside; something of an anomaly for Trenton at that time and maybe still. My next Springsteen concert would be the legendary Jadwin Gym show in 11/78. I wish I had a recording of that one! I do have the 9/78 Capitol Theater show so that's pretty close.