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

1 comment:

Bad Scooter UK said...

The version of 10th Avenue is utterly, utterly awesome. It's amazing to see how this and the other songs have developed over time, and how as you say you see how important story telling is to Bruce.