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2023/4 Albums Thing 334 - Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band “Live / 1975-85”

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A 5 LP box set that does exactly what it says on the box. It compiles performances from small clubs to huge stadiums from New Jersey to California.

Although the E Street Band (in one form or another) have been playing behind Bruce Springsteen from the beginning of his recording career this was the first album release to credit the band. But it makes sense to credit them here because on stage is where the E Street Band prove themselves to be, as The Boss often describes them at the end of shows The heart-stopping, pants-dropping, earth-shocking, hard rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, love-making, Viaaaagra-taking, history-making, legendary E! Street! Band!.

All the “hits” are here, everything you’d expect of a Springsteen show in those first ten years. The only thing that is conspicuously absent is “Jungleland”, who knows why. There are also a handful of (to me) previously unheard songs and cover versions. “Paradise By The C” is an instrumental introduced on the “Darkness On the Edge Of Town” tour to kick off the second half of the show and features the Big Man; “Seeds” is a song that has been around since “Born In the USA” but this is it’s only official release. The covers are Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand”, Edwin Starr’s “War” (which I saw him play live with Edwin at V*ll* Park on the “Tunnel Of Love Express” tour), a beautiful version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and finally Tom Waits “Jersey Girl” (recorded at the Meadowlands in New Jersey) to which Bruce added a final verse that fits so perfectly it’s almost like he wrote the whole song himself. 

Some high-spots for me are “4th July Asbury Park (Sandy)” recorded at the Roxy in LA in 1978, a superb performance highlighting Danny Federici’s accordion playing, and from the same show a great version of “Growin Up”. Springsteen goes off on one his extended stories mid-song about the time he had to go to court after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. After it’s all over his Dad is telling him he should become a lawyer and “get a little something for yourself”. But his Mom is telling him he should become an author “it’s a nice life and you can get a little something for yourself”. They’re both in the audience and from the stage he tells them he wants it all and “tonight yous’ll just have to settle for rock ’n’ roll”…and right on cue the E Street Band kicks back in and it’s just about one of the most thrilling things you could hear. There’s a performance of “Born In The USA” so full of righteous fury that, as on the tour this was recorded on it was the 1st song in the set every night, it makes you wonder what he was doing before going onstage to conjure that up. Side 5’s juxtaposition of a raging “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” followed by my great favourite “Racing In The Street” has been close to bringing me to tears more than once.

“Live/1975-85” is as close as you’ll get to a Springsteen gig in a box.

This Land Is Your Land - https://youtu.be/oxSPEgqsaec?si=6aCdc2WCEu6JaFWF

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