Tuesday, 28 August 2018
Bruce Springsteen - Live 1975-1985
Released November 1986
Live material from 1975-1985
When this was released, in 1986, I had luckily witnessed Bruce Springsteen live in concert twice, in 1981 (Stafford, UK) and 1975 (Wembley Stadium, London, UK). I eagerly awaited this product, hoping it go some way to replicating the almost life-affirming experiences I had undergone at those two excellent gigs. I certainly appreciated all the live material included here (great to hear incredible live versions of "Sandy" and "Growin' Up" for example and previously unreleased songs like "Seeds", the instrumental “Paradise By The “C”, Bruce’s version of "Because The Night", “Fire" (a hit for The Pointer Sisters), Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand”, Edwin Starr’s “War”, Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Tom Waits's "Jersey Girl". Manna from Heaven for Springsteen aficionados like me. It is also good to hear “Nebraska”, “Johnny 99” and “Reason To Believe” from the acoustic “Nebraska” album give more expansive instrumentation.
However, because these live cuts are taken from different gigs, spanning ten years, there is no "live concert" feel to them. There is not, for me, any real continuity. Some of the tracks would appear to be edited somewhat - the prelude to "Badlands" and also "Racing In The Street". The latter is not played before the full band version of "Thunder Road" as is was so spectacularly on the 1978 tour, for example. The sound quality, while not marred by any crackling or audience whooping has always been, for me, very muffled and decidedly "lo-fi". I even got hold of the Japanese edition, hoping for an improvement, but it was minimal.
So much subsequent live work has now been officially released (particularly via Springsteen's official site) that you wonder just why this was never done in the first place. Those wonderful 1978 and 1980 shows that we can now enjoy so much were around then. Why didn't they release them?Even then, in 1986, when this was the only live Bruce Springsteen material I owned I felt it was a missed opportunity. I do not listen to this album now, ever. I do not need to. Look around, there is plenty better out there that showcases this remarkable live performer as he should be, the best there is.
- August 28, 2018